Cynthia Erivo
Cynthia Erivo

A project first announced in 2014, Steve McQueen re-teamed with his “12 Years a Slave” producer and financier New Regency, for a big screen adaptation of the British TV series “Widows,” which aired in 1983, and told the story the widows of 3 crime bosses killed during a robbery attempt, who are being pressured by the police, as well as a rival group of thieves intent on taking
over their husbands’ crime business. The widows then team up to eliminate both problems, as they bring on a 4th woman to pull off a heist of their own.

In the original, the 3 widows are played by white actresses, but the 4th woman who’s enlisted, was played by a black actress in Eva Mottley.

McQueen’s adaptation will be a feature film, not a TV series, and will be set in the U.S.A.

On September 27, Viola Davis was announced as the first actress to be cast in the project, which is being scripted by Gillian Flynn (“Gone Girl”) and McQueen, who will also produce, alongside Iain Canning and Emile Sherman of See-Saw Films (“Shame,” “The Kings Speech”).

Announced today, Tony Award winning “Color Purple” actress Cynthia Erivo, has joined Davis in the film.

No word on what role either actress has signed up to play at this time.

McQueen is still in very rare air right now – a black filmmaker, universally loved and respected, across all racial and ethnic boundaries, who is in a position to do almost anything he wants to do for his next project, as the world awaits in anticipation to learn what exactly that will be. Although his HBO series, “Codes of Conduct,” was eventually scrapped by the network. He also had plans to direct a feature film on the life of Paul Robeson.

As for Davis and Erivo, Viola will next appear alongside Denzel Washington in “Fences”out next month; and Erivo, who’s primarily a stage actress, will be making her feature film acting debut in “Widows.”

Variety was first to report the news of Erivo’s casting.

The original British “Widows” TV series isn’t available for USA audiences at this time, but I did find several episodes in full, on YouTube, so you can check them all out if you’re interested. I certainly will at some point. Below you’ll find season 1, episodes 1, 2 and 3 of the series: