Mildred and Richard Loving are not quite household names, but that may change with Jeff Nichols’ film “Loving.” The movie stars Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton as the interracial couple whose marriage defied the anti-miscegenation laws that were then on the books in Virginia.
Nichols, Negga and Edgerton have spoken about how the Lovings’ civil rights story is a love story, no less powerful or significant than the marches or riots covered in school textbooks about the civil rights movement. It was Mildred and Richard’s love story and actions that lead to the landmark 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision Loving vs. Virginia, which found anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional, paving the way for other interracial (and, eventually, same-sex) marriages to be recognized.
The film was shot in Virginia, including the jail and courthouse where the real-life Lovings were detained and tried.
During a Q&A with the actors and director following a screening of the film, Negga discussed the experience of filming in these places where the real events took place.
“When you see footage of things, when you see history, it’s very distant,” said Negga. “I think to walk in their footsteps, to see the walls that they were contained in, the walls that they had to plead guilty in, it sort of brings it all so much closer. Makes everything so much more urgent and specific.”
The actress explained that the cast and crew were able to channel a very specific energy by shooting on location.
“I really think that there was a potent energy in Virginia where we were filming,” explained Negga. “I think it was very important for Jeff to film there. It was super helpful for us. We were treading in their footstep. You could feel that energy. You could feel the reverence from everybody, the cast and crew, for this place, because of this couple.”
Watch more clips from the Q&A below.