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.
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.