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Movies & TV

08th Oct 2022

WATCH: The stars of The Woman King on why Irish audiences need to see the movie

Rory Cashin

“The Irish, they know! They know! They’re fighting them wars!”

94% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Topped the US box office on its opening week.

Some serious talk about Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress.

The Woman King is proving to be a massive success, which is why it is such a surprise that it had a long, complicated journey to the big screen.

Based on the true story of the Agojie, an all-female warrior unit that protected the West African kingdom of Dahomey from the 17th to the 19th century, this particular story is set in the 1820s, when the warriors are led by General Nanisca (Viola Davis).

With the same mix of historical action and powerful performances that make the likes of Gladiator, Braveheart and The Last of the Mohicans so iconic and memorable, the script was sent around numerous Hollywood production companies, who all either turned it down or were offering minuscule budgets for it to be made.

Thankfully someone saw sense, the movie was eventually given a $50 million production budget to work with, which it has already recouped in the States alone.

Now the movie is arriving in Irish cinemas, and JOE had the opportunity to catch up with the cast, including Lashana Lynch (No Time To Die), Sheila Atim (The Underground Railroad) and John Boyega (Star Wars).

You can check out those chats right here:

During the interview, we mentioned that The Woman King had an advance screening for some Irish viewers and it had an incredible response from the audience.

Considering the long road the movie was forced to take in order to eventually make it to the big screen, does this feel good knowing that it is generating such a response from audiences around the world?

Sheila Atim responds: “Yes. I’m not even going to mince the words. Yes. Because sometimes it can feel like you’re having to justify your very existence to people who don’t understand it. It’s like ‘I’m real, man. I exist! I’m not a concept. I’m a real person, with a real history. There are people like me who exist in this industry, there are people like me that are going to exist in the future’.

“So how could it be that a story about somebody like me, like us, is not relevant? Could not sell? Would not be executed well? Would not engage audiences?

“To hear that an audience in Ireland loved this film about 1800s Benin is both really heartening to me, because I’m like ‘Oh, what a relief!’, but then I’m also like ‘Well yeah, of course!’

John Boyega adds: “Especially the Irish, they know! They know! They’re fighting them wars!”

Atim continues: “So I’m like yes, and this is not a moment to sit back and not do the I told you sos. This is definitely an I told you so moment. Loudly.”

Lashana Lynch adds: “It’s true, there was nothing in my mind that questioned the amount of work that was put in it. The script that we had. The rich history that we were telling. Everything about it is a strong and powerful, successful film. I genuinely feel like we’ve created the blueprint here. And this is the example for many films like it.”

The Woman King is in Irish cinemas right now, and you can also check out our chats with Viola Davis and Thuso Mbedu right here:

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