Steve McQueen on Why Chicago was the Perfect Setting for ‘Widows’

     November 13, 2018

There are seventy-seven boroughs in Chicago (for comparison’s sake: there are only a grand total of… five boroughs in New York City). Chicago’s boroughs are all totally different – economically, socially, & racially – facets that Steve McQueen’s Widows uses to comment on the growing divide within the country as a whole. In Chicago, what separates the rich from the poor is often no more than a block or two. And in Widows, each character knows this – whether it’s the old-money ‘one-percenters’ (Colin Farrell & Robert Duvall), hanging on to their last vestiges of power and influence; or the ‘new-money’ drug-dealers (Brian Tyree Henry & Daniel Kaluuya), trying to go legit and discovering there may be no such thing; or the economically downtrodden (our ‘widows’ – Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki & Cynthia Erivo), making a mil or two the only way they know how—by robbing the rich blind. It’s a fairly bleak worldview – everyone struggling to make their own ‘American Dream’ (i.e., become rich) a reality, no matter what the cost is on anyone else.


Image via 20th Century Fox

In the following interview with filmmaker Steve McQueen, he discusses why Chicago was the perfect setting for Widows, how the city has changed, and choosing which locations to utilize for filming. For the full interview, watch above.

  • Why was Chicago the perfect setting for Widows?
  • How has the city changed over the years?
  • What’s Steve McQueen’s process for finding locations?
  • Were there locations McQueen couldn’t use?
  • How did McQueen and his editor Joe Walker cut the opening for the film?

Here’s the official synopsis for Widows:

From Academy Award®-winning director Steve McQueen (“12 Years a Slave”) and co-writer and bestselling author Gillian Flynn (“Gone Girl”) comes a blistering, modern-day thriller set against the backdrop of crime, passion and corruption. “Widows” is the story of four women with nothing in common except a debt left behind by their dead husbands’ criminal activities. Set in contemporary Chicago, amid a time of turmoil, tensions build when Veronica (Oscar® winner Viola Davis), Linda (Michelle Rodriguez), Alice (Elizabeth Debicki) and Belle (Cynthia Erivo) take their fate into their own hands and conspire to forge a future on their own terms. “Widows” also stars Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall, Daniel Kaluuya, Lukas Haas and Brian Tyree Henry.

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