The Love That Changed America: The Touching Photos That Inspired the Movie Loving

Loving v. Virginia,Interracial marriage,Jeff Nichols,Michael Shannon,Ruth Negga,Joel Edgerton

Richard and Mildred Loving never sought the spotlight, even as their bid to overturn state laws against interracial marriage grabbed international headlines during the civil rights movement. They rarely gave interviews, and even when their case reached the Supreme Court, the couple declined a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend the proceedings. The Lovings won their right to live as husband and wife in their home state of Virginia after the Supreme Court ruled in their favor in 1967. The court’s decision wiped away the country’s last remaining segregation laws, which until that point had outlawed interracial marriage in 16 states. The most enduring images of the reluctant activists comes from a series of candid photographs taken in the spring of 1965 by LIFE magazine photographer Grey Villet. The pictures underscored the love story at the heart of a divisive and racially charged legal battle, and captured a rare glimpse of what the Lovings were really fighting for. Now, the makers of the new film Loving, which has garnered early Oscar buzz since its Cannes debut, have honored some of Villet’s most famous stills in a new slideshow (above). Director Jeff Nichols, who cast Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton as the Lovings, and Michael Shannon as the photographer, explained how important the images were to his research. “That’s why I ended the film with one [of his photos] and built an entire scene about the creation of one – the images really seemed to capture the essence of these people,” Nichols told PEOPLE. The final...

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