Jeff Nichols Q&A: ‘Loving’ director
Filmmaker Jeff Nichols wanted to make “Loving” “because I immediately fell in love with these people,” he says in our recent web chat (watch above). “I fell in love with the love they had for one another. I really do think, and I say this without hyperbole, this is one of the greatest love stories in American history.”
“Loving” tells the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving (played by Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga), an interracial Virginia couple whose 1958 marriage was outlawed by the state of Virginia, prompting a nine-year legal battle that led the Supreme Court to invalidate such racist laws nationwide in 1967.
This is Nichols’s fifth feature film as a writer-director, but it’s his first based on a true story, and when it comes to making a fact-based film, “There’s a lot of responsibility to get it right, especially with a story like this that takes place at such a tumultuous time in our nation’s history,” he explains. “I was born in 1978, so I think there was a lot of trepidation and fear on my side of things that I wouldn’t be able to tell that story or give that perspective correctly.”
But despite the weighty social, historical and political subject matter Nichols’s approach was rooted in something quite simple: empathy. “We aren’t talking about issues, we aren’t talking about religious beliefs or political stances, we’re talking about people,” he says. “I think that’s an important thing for us to remember right now: how much power we have as citizens, how much power we have as individuals as long as we are staying true to something in ourselves – that is a hopeful place to be.”