Loving premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, and has already cemented itself as a strong Oscar contender. Written and directed by Jeff Nichols, the film stars Ethiopian-Irish actress Ruth Negga (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and Joel Edgerton (The Great Gatsby, Black Mass). Negga and Edgerton portray the real life interracial couple Richard and Mildred Loving who were icons of the civil rights movement as their fight for equality led the Supreme Court to rule the ban on interracial marriage unconstitutional.
The interracial couple from Virginia were married in June 1958, when interracial relationships were illegal. Authorities broke into their home, arrested them, and sentenced them to a year in the state penitentiary. The sentence was then suspended under the condition that the couple leave the state of Virginia. The couple then spent nearly a decade fighting a legal battle that ultimately resulted in the Supreme Court’s declaration that the ban of interracial marriage were unconstitutional (the landmark Loving v. Virginia decision of 1967).
The film was inspired by Nancy Buirski’s beautiful 2011 HBO documentary The Loving Story which consisted of footage of the couple and contemporary interviews with Peggy Loving, their daughter.
“I’d seen the documentary, and I was so struck by this couple. Individually, but also their love for each other just seemed such a beautiful, delicate, rare thing. I felt such outrage on their behalf, like many others, that the simple act of wanting to be married to another human being would incur the wrath of the law and also make people really angry. So angry, violently angry. I was just so shocked by that.” – Ruth Negga
Due to Negga’s critically acclaimed performance in Loving, there is already buzz for a Best Actress Academy nomination. Negga has been working as an actress in the United Kingdom and Ireland since 2004. Her first major role was in the Neil Jordan film Breakfast on Pluto in 2005, and was then featured in Misfits, World War Z, 12 Years a Slave (uncredited), the Jimi Hendrix biopic Jimi: All Is By My Side, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. She currently stars on the AMC series Preacher, and can be seen next on the big screen in Warcraft released on June 10th by Universal Pictures.
Loving will be released by Focus Features in the heart of awards season on November 4th.