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Funding Boost For “12 Years A Slave” + Details On Characters To Be Played By Fassbender & Pitt

Funding Boost For "12 Years A Slave" + Details On Characters To Be Played By Fassbender & Pitt

Finally some news on this project…

New Regency is said to be “in talks” to co-finance and distribute 12 Years A Slave, the adaptation of Solomon Northup’s slave narrative, to be directed by Steve McQueen, with Chiwetel Ejiofor in the starring role, and Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt in supporting roles.

In my “book-to-film” writeup on the project (HERE), I wondered what characters Fassbender and Pitt would play in the film; thanks to Deadline, we now know.

Fassbender will play a plantation owner (there were a few in the novel I read, so it could be any of them; but as reader Accidental Visitor astutely noted in his comment in response to my writeup, Fassbender will likely play Edwin Epps – your garden variety uneducated, ignorant, alcoholic redneck asshole to put it plainly, and the plantation owner Northup spends 10 of his 12 years in bondage working for.

As I noted in my writeup, Epps is middle-aged and, from what I gathered in Northup’s description of him, large – more fat than muscle – and just a mean bastard; an ignorant one who drinks a lot. A lethal combo I’d say – ignorant, mean and an alcoholic. And in a position of power too I should also add.

As you know, Fassbender does not fit that physical description, but continuing on with what Accidental Visitor said…

Just as the case with Leonardo playing a character in “Django” that, by script decision, was the total opposite of him, Fassbender will probably be doing the same in this adaptation. That’s how it works. When it comes to casting it is typical, when white folks are involved, for the thespians to be “prettier” than how they are described on the page. That’s how you get funding for such films: promote the white prettiness. This is why when a major white character is an evil Nazi or a vicious slave owner, films pick good-looking types that allow the audiences to tolerate them (and for some perhaps sympathize with them).  

And besides, I doubt Fassbender’s role would be a small one; although Brad Pitt’s is. As Deadline notes, Pitt will play a Northern lawyer who helps free Northup; if I recall correctly from the book, this lawyer features primarily towards the end of the book, and not very much.

But Pitt is also acting as producer of the project via his Plan B company.

The film’s budget is listed at around $20 million.

Shooting is scheduled to begin in June in Louisiana.

I expect this will be a 2013 release, unless it’s rushed for a late 2012 limited opening to make it eligible for Oscar consideration next year.

If you missed it, read my book-to-film report on the project HERE.

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Bondgirl, I don't think we have to worry about Chiwetel not bringing it, as he's proven to be quite the talented thespian. I'm a huge fan of Fassbender as well but I think his ability to master the Southern American accent is really the only concern I have about either man. And that isn't much of a concern, considering Fassbender's talent and dedication. Frankly, I can't wait to see these two playing opposite one another…I foresee some great clashes/moments between them.


Promote the white prettiness? Huh? What was pretty about Ed Norton in Fight Club, American History X, or Primal Fear? Or Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men? Christoph Waltz was not easy on the eyes in Water for Elephants or Inglourious Basterds. Alan Rickman in Die Hard is nobody's sex symbol. I could go on and on….Jack Nicholson (The Shining), Kevin Spacey (Seven, The Usual Suspects)….I can't believe you bought into that analysis, Tambay. And Chiwetel betta BRING IT, because Fassbender's going to kill every single scene. Should be interesting.


You don't think Fassbender is willing to gain weight and "DEGLAM" for this role? Look at the physical extremes he went to in Hunger, starving himself to near organ failure.


I read the book in school, but I want to check out a copy of this – Anybody have a pdf?



MIcah, Misha and Accidental Visitor have all made excellent points, but notwithstanding the "yawn" element, I am leaning toward Comrade's remark. I do not believe the average movie-goer has read the book, nor intends to read the book before seeing the movie. Consequently, the general public's vision of the characters in question will be shaped by the director and the actors choosen to play the parts. So, looking at what Comrade said "You attach two prominent white actors to the project and it's a recipe for Oscar success" one might quickly believe that "prominent" is the optimum word. Now, since we're talking about a "slavery" film, to compliment my point, I believe the same can be said about Django Unchained. It does not matter if the actor(s) are fat, pretty or whatever, it's all about popularity and name recognition. Opps, I didn't intend to go here, but how else can someone explain Kerry Washington's inclusion in Django? Was it her looks, her acting ability or her "name"? Isn't she in a popular TV series, Sandals, Flip-Flops or Dirty Scoundrels?


I'm happy to see a film about slavery told from the perspective of the slave by a black auteur. I cannot think of very many movies made about slavery. That has a lot to do with the fact that America doesn't like holding a mirror because looking back is the ugly, sordid, shameful truth.


Yes, another film about slavery. You attach two prominent white actors to the project and it's a recipe for Oscar success. Yawn


AV has a point but it doesn't perfectly apply here, if I understand him correctly. While the casting may play into how Holllywood likes to portray things and the way a portion of the moviegoing public can digest things, I'm sure the casting happened this way for a much more benign reason. The reason Misha stated of course. McQueen has found an actor he likes to work with and will take any opportunity to do so. It's the feeling is mutual from Fassbender's end, judging by his own comments. I can assure the financiers said "Brad unless you are in front of the camera and listed as an actor on the marquee, we are not throwing our money behind it." That is not uncommon when big name actors want to play producers. And who knows actors have gained weight and transformed physically for a part before, perhaps that will happen here.


Hmm…not sure if I agree with AV's observation for a couple of reasons. One, I've found that Hollywood is really only concerned with an actor being "pretty" when he/she is playing the hero/heroine. After all, it is usually said hero/heroine who's used to sell the movie. With the villain, it's more of a toss up and I've seen some not so pretty villains, especially in films of this ilk. Moroever, McQueen likely set his sights on Fassbender playing the meatier, more controversial part from the outset. Not to mention that he (McQueen) doesn't exactly seem like the type who'd easily acquiesce to Hollywood's warped ideology. Oh and "pretty" isn't a word I'd used to describe Fassbender, as I don't think he fits into the conventionally "pretty/hunky" category. So in other words, I think the McQueen/Fassbender connection was more of a factor than the latter's physical appearance. Anyhow, I'm really looking forward to seeing what the combination of McQueen, Ejiofor, Fassbender and Pitt will produce. It certainly has the potential to be a memorable, award-winning production.


Tambay, I'm glad you remembered my comment. Trust me the formula is almost always in play when it comes to casting.

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