A Familiar Heist: ‘Widows’

October 2nd, 2018A Familiar Heist: ‘Widows’

Oceans 8 won’t be the only heist movie this year with a cast of incredible women. Widows, in which a group of women attempt to finish the criminal work that killed their husbands, opens on November 16.

The film is written by Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl) and Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) and directed by McQueen. The cast includes Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki and Cynthia Erivo. All told, Widows is likely to be a serious heist story, in contrast with the more comedic Ocean’s 8.

There’s some interesting backstory, too. While Widows sounds like a very modern premise, this isn’t the story’s first time on screen.

A British TV Series Came First

[Credit: FremantleMedia]

The first incarnation of Widows was a short-lived British TV series created by crime writer Lynda La Plante (Prime Suspect). Twelve episodes aired between 1983 and 1985. The plot is pretty similar to that of the upcoming film, with some details rooted specifically in the 1980s.

Three armed robbers are killed during a job, leaving their widows Dolly, Shirley and Linda to fend for themselves. Dolly (Ann Mitchell of EastEnders) assumes a leadership role. She acts fast to prevent rival gangs from taking over her husband’s crime organization. Linda (Maureen O’Farrell) and Shirley (Fiona Hendley) help Dolly to finish the job that killed their husbands. To do so, they enlist the help of a fourth woman, Bella. Eva Mottley played Bella in Season 1, while Debby Bishop took over the part for Season 2.

The First Sequel And First Remake

[Credit: ABC]

Widows wrapped up in 1985 after two successful seasons, but that’s not where the story ended. In 1995, La Plante penned a follow-up series, She’s Out. That focused on (spoiler for the end of the original show) Dolly’s release from prison and her integration back into society. Mitchell was the only one of the four leading actresses to return.

And the film Widows isn’t even the story’s first shot in the US. In 2002, the UK series became an ABC mini-series. Much as with the new movie, the plot was slightly altered a bit to suit the early-2000s period. This time, Dolly, Linda, Shirley and Bella attempt to procure a famous painting their husbands were killed trying to grab. Mercedes Ruehl, Brooke Shields, Rosie Perez, and N’Bushe Wright portrayed the cunning women in this version.

Steve McQueen’s film features Viola Davis in a renamed take on the Dolly role, while Michelle Rodriguez and Elizabeth Debicki play the other two widows. The great stage actress Cynthia Erivo, who is also in Bad Times at the El Royale, plays Bella.

An additional set of great actors rounds out the movie’s roster: Liam Neeson, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, and Jon Bernthal play the husbands, while Colin Farrell, Brian Tyree Henry, and Daniel Kaluuya play important characters. Then there’s Jacki Weaver, Carrie Coon, Robert Duvall, and Garret Dillahunt. You couldn’t ask for a better cast, and we’re excited to see how they all reimagine this premise.

Widows hits theaters on November 16, 2018.

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