Emancipation producer Joey McFarland has expressed regret for walking the red carpet at the film’s premiere with the original photo of an enslaved man that inspired the film.
Taking to his Instagram on Sunday, McFarland shared a detailed note, addressing the criticism he received after speaking to Variety about the image of the man who inspired the historical drama starring Will Smith.
McFarland, 50, disabled the comment function on his Instagram post. He wrote, “I wholeheartedly apologize to everyone I have offended by bringing a photograph of Peter to the Emancipation premiere.”
“My intent was to honor this remarkable man and to remind the general public that his image not only brought about change in 1863 but still resonates and promotes change today,” he added.
McFarland showed off the photo - of the enslaved man whose real name was Gordon, and was called 'Whipped Peter' - during the Smith film's premiere event.
The photo shows the man as he was fit for a Union army uniform, and the scars on his back. The film, which is directed by Antoine Fuqua, is based on Gordon's escape from slavery.
McFarland told Variety at the premiere, “I have the photo. This is the original photograph from 1863. I wanted it to be here tonight. I wanted a piece of Peter to be here tonight.”
In his apology statement, McFarland said that he hoped that the controversy involving the photograph “didn’t distract from the film’s message, Peter’s story and just how much impact he had on the world.”
Emancipation is slated to premiere on Friday on Apple TV+.
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