Filmmaker Jeff Nichols made a big splash with his first three films, Shotgun Stories, Taking Shelter, and 2012’s Mud, which in turn led to his first studio picture, the upcoming Warner Bros. sci-fi pic Midnight Special. However, instead of going even bigger for his next film after his studio debut, it appears that Nichols is going back to the world of indies. Per Deadline, Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga have signed on to lead the drama Loving, which Nichols wrote and will direct for a September start in Virginia.
Inspired by Nancy Buirski’s documentary The Loving Story, Nichols’ film is based on the 1967 civil rights case Loving vs. Virginia, which was borne out of an interracial couple being sentenced to a year in prison simply because of their marriage. They were told their sentence would be suspended if they left the state of Virginia, and they subsequently spent nine years fighting for their right to return home together.
This is a curious move for Nichols, but also an admirable one. He’s reportedly one of the screenwriters working on Warner Bros.’ Aquaman and had been rumored as a possibility to direct, but even if he weren’t keen on helming the superhero pic, he likely could have stayed in the WB fold and directed another high-profile studio picture. Instead, he’s returning to his indie roots to tell a difficult and relevant (both thematically and textually) story.
Edgerton is reteaming with Nichols after working with the filmmaker on Midnight Special, which also stars Michael Shannon, Kirsten Dunst, and Adam Driver, while Negga was most recently seen on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and just landed a lead role in AMC’s potential Preacher series. Loving will be produced and financed by Big Beach.