[WATCH] ‘Loving’ director Jeff Nichols on landmark Civil Rights story starring Joel Edgerton, Ruth Negga

“The nature of these people is what really drew me in,” reveals writer and director Jeff Nichols during our recent video chat (watch above) about what attracted him to the film “Loving.” Based on a true story, this Focus Features release stars Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga as Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple in 1958 who are sentenced to prison in Virginia after they are married. They take their case all the way to the Supreme Court, leading to a landmark Civil Rights decision that ended anti-miscegenation laws.

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Despite its historical significance, the filmmaker behind “Take Shelter” (2011), “Mud” (2012), and “Midnight Special” (2016) divulges, “I didn’t know about it. I’d never heard of it.” He wondered, “why is this story not part of the foundation of our American history?,” and decided, “this needs to be on our lips. We need to be talking about it.”

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Using Nancy Buirski‘s 2011 HBO documentary “The Loving Story” as a guide (Buirski serves as a producer on this film), Nichols set out to find the right actors to bring Richard and Mildred to life. Negga, who has had small roles in “World War Z” (2013) and “Warcraft” (2016), was the first person to audition for the role. “That decision was easy,” he admits. “She just fell out of the sky.” Edgerton, meanwhile, was in the middle of shooting “Midnight Special” with the director, and Nichols knew, “if I could give him this research, this archival footage of Richard, that he’d nail it.”

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Both “Loving” and “Mud” competed for the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. “Take Shelter” won Nichols the Critics Week Grand Prize, the SACD Award, and the FIPRESCI Prize at the fest. Check out our full interview above for more about the making of “Loving.”

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Be sure to make your Oscar predictions. How do you think “Loving” will do with academy voters? Weigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how this film is faring in our Oscar odds. You can keep changing your predictions right up until just before nominations are announced on January 24 at 5:00 am PT/8:00 am ET. Be sure to read our contest rules. And join in the fierce debate over the Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our forums.

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