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Alfre Woodard, Lupita Nyong’o Join Cast Of Steve McQueen’s ’12 Years A Slave’ (We Have Our Patsey!)

Alfre Woodard, Lupita Nyong'o Join Cast Of Steve McQueen's '12 Years A Slave' (We Have Our Patsey!)

Boy… the cast of Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave continues to impress! Even if I had absolutely no idea what the project was about, with this cast, and director, I would definitely be interested to see whatever it was they were cooking up.

Alfre Woodard will join a cast that already includes Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael FassbenderRuth Negga, Adepero OduyePaul DanoBenedict Cumberbatch, Scoot McNairyGarret Dillahunt, Brad Pitt Paul Giamatti and Sarah Paulson.

Woodard will play Mistress Shaw, a former slave who climbes the Southern caste system. I read the book, but I don’t immediately recall that character; and skimming through Vanessa’s review of the actual script, there is no mention of a Mistress Shaw either. So I’m guessing it’s likely a relatively *minor* role. Although I’ll have to flip through the pages of the book again to see where exactly she’s mentioned.

Maybe Vanessa remembers and can add to this in the comments section.

Also joining the cast is newcomer Lupita Nyong’o, who will reportedly play “a slave who is the object of both the affections and cruelty of Master Epps (Fassbender),” says The Hollywood Reporter. And I believe that answers another major question we’ve had about the project – and that is, who will play the role of Patsey.

We speculated that Adepero Oduye would play that role after it was announced that she’d been cast in the film; but it looks like Lupita will play Patsey.

Why do I think this character as described is indeed Patsey? Well, as I said in my book-to-film reportPatsey’s story is a sad, sad one. She’s considered the best cotton picker of Epps’ slaves, and is also his mistress, although certainly not because she wants to be. Epps is married, and his wife is aware of his infidelities with Patsey, and for that reason, she routinely orders Patsey whipped. She hates Patsey, and of course blames her for Epps’ indiscretions, even though she doesn’t exactly have any say in the matter. So Patsey is forced to sleep with Epps, facing his wrath if she doesn’t; but if she does sleep with him, she faces Epps’ wife’s wrath. There’s a scene in which Patsey is whipped by Epps so cruelly that I felt it just from reading Northup’s words as he described the scene. I don’t know how McQueen will shoot that particular sequence, but it’ll be incredibly painful to watch. If you don’t already hate Epps by then (and really, given everything else he does prior, you should), this will most certainly do it.

So, with a description that reads “a slave who is the object of both the affections and cruelty of Master Epps,” Patsey is really the only slave woman who fits that description.

Looking over Lupita’s IMDB page (she’s originally from Kenya by the way), she’s actually primarily a filmmaker, and has done some crew work on other projects. But little in the acting department. Although on her Twitter page, which I found via Google search, she lists herself as an actor first, and says that she is a Yale School of Drama graduate!

But I’ll do some further digging to see what more I can learn about her, and will report my findings here.

As I said in a previous post, Patsey’s is a meaty role, and she’ll certainly chew up quite a bit of screen time. So this could certainly be a showcase for Lupita’s talents.

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Judy Adong

Well, Lupita will make some people swallow their words! Let them watch this space. I am her great fun! TALENT AT IT'S BEST!


I believe an international cast for 12 Years a Slave will result in international markets for 12 Years a Slave. Smart of McQueen not to allow his projects crew and cast to be controlled by cliquish, clannish, sometimey Hollyweird.


I first saw Lupita in the MTV Africa production: Shuga:love sex money and she was great. People need to get over themselves – Slavery was not only an issue for African Americans – be open minded and grow up. Your opinions limit you – whilst those you have negative opinions about go and achieve their dreams because they did not hold back because 'of where they come from.' For some of you the issue is you believe that because they are African it somehow lessons them. utter nonsense. Is that how you want to utilise your mind? Really? I cannot wait to watch this when it comes up – the cast is awesome and inspiring.

James Evans from the Cabrini-Green

This will be an interesting flick if only because the director is NOT an American Black man.


I can't believe some of the comments I've read implying that Steve McQueen should've cast African American women instead of Lupita and Adepero. Unless you've read the script, were at the auditions, and know how he wants to tell the story, where do you get the right to be so judgmental?

Did it cross your mind that these women may have had the best auditions? Lupita just graduated from one of the best acting programs in the country while Adepero has proven her chops both on film and stage. I've seen English actors steal American roles from American actors on a regular basis, and it wasn't because they were English. They were just better. One's history doesn't entitle anyone to a role in the present. Having worked on Steve McQueens last film, Shame, I can guarantee, he cast the ladies on talent, definitely not on their public profile or legacy.

The notion you should cast people from the area you portray, gives neither due credit to the craft of actors or the imagination of the director. To abide by such simplistic logic would have robbed fans of seeing an English Jew, Liz Taylor, play a tragic southerner in Cat on a Tin Roof, or Idris Elba's tortured Rwandan in Sometimes in April, or Forest Whitaker's amazing take on a Ugandan despot. If Steve Mcqueen auditioned African American actors he thought were better for the role, they would've been cast. That's the kind of filmmaker he is.

Lydiah Kubo- Randall

Lupita was a star way back as she participated in great School Musicals in St. Mary's Nairobi Kenya.Outstanding student


btw, the fragrant ruth negga is Irish so there are actually TWO Irish actors in the movie her and fassy.


Mc Queen is a Caribbean Brit with slave ancestry. Native born African Americans also forget that chattel slavery took place from Canada to Argentina. African communities were decimated by the slave trade colonization. They did not have it easy. Django Unchained is packed with "authentically" African American actors, do you think that it will be more realistic that 12 Years a Slave?


Just because one steps onto North American land does not make them American. Thus just because Africans were brought over to the US did not make them immediately African Americans. It's a silly argument to believe that African Americans can give a more real performance than actors born in Africa. I hope Steve Mcqueen's movie is a success because he is a great director.


But Lupita is just kenyan, not originally kenyan, has she been of late, anything else other than kenyan am not aware of?


Lupita's acting credit is from the Kenyan show 'Shuga' which revolved around a group of students and their love lives with a message of Aids prevention. She was in season 1.


McQueen has the right to cast whoever the f*ck he wants. In my book you direct Hunger and Shame- you call your shots? Who are we all to questions McQueen's artistic choices?

David Muriithi

As a Kenyan film addict who has seen Lupita's talent grow from strength to strength – I strongly believe this will be her BIG break. She is beyond talented and will give A-list actresses/actors a run for their money. McQueen is a genius and I trust he knows exactly what he is doing. On the whole American/Brit/African/Nigerian/Kenyan/Authentic thingy – One word. Obama!! :) ;) *ducks for cover*


My hunch is that McQueen went with non-American Black actors because he perceives them as having less historical "baggage" given the film's subject matter. Or it could just be a budgeting issue. And yeah, I too have wondered if Ruth Negga has a middle name that she could use professionally, especially if she is crossing over to Hollywood. But given that she wasn't raised in the US, and that Negga is actually an Ethiopian word meaning royalty, she may not have any hang-ups about it.


If McQueen can choose primarily White American actors, what's up with all the Black actors with ethnicities that are not American? I did not care about Chiwetel in the lead, he's well known and a great actor. Then another African Brit, then an American with Nigerian ethnicity, now an East African in the lead roles portraying North American slaves that are main characters. Admittedly we've seen this before in a film like Lena & Boesman with Americans playing the leads. And the soon to be horrific Winnie Mandela movie-lol. But the America actors are Hollywood names so i understand the marketing. This, not so much. Maybe he has specific reasons-((shrug)). Aside from that it's incredible this is only his third feature film and the scope is so epic, regardless of the casting I want to think McQueen has the depth to treat the subject matter with respect and dignity.


Lupita is originally kenyan? She's still Kenyan as far as I know. I know coz I'm "pretty" Kenyan myself. Her dad is a minister in the Kenyan government too so…


It's weird…all of this…I still feel Lincoln wil be the only "slave" film I will watch.cause of Daniel Day Lewis…I didn't come to play no fu*cking slave! I rather be the next Diana Ross in Mahoghany…so next!


LORD HAVE MERCY. Somebody dail 911. Nadine has lost her mind. Just like a Holy Ghost possessed santified woman, she's dancing around in the street with her wig in her hand and no bra on. She talking about leaving her husband for a man name Steve and she's yelling "JEEEZZZZUMMMM PEACE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THANK YOU STEVE MCQ!!!! LAWDA MERCY!". Somebody call the law b/c she's on FIRE! lmao. Nadine, I am happy for you. I've followed your passion on this project and I witnessed you heated debates over the part of Patsey and who should play that role. So believe me when I say, I feel good with you and for you. Now, if we can just keep the "We don't like no stinkin slave movies" crowd at bay, this will certainly be a match made in heaven. But darling please, pull down your dress and get back in the house before Mr Man peeks out the window, sees your hysteria, and hears you call another man's name… "happily" married might be a thang of the past. **BIG SMILE**


Love, LOVE, the cast. McQueen brought heavyweights to the project and I like that. Strong story. Apparently, a strong script, and and a superb cast directed by a man who's already proven he can handle hard, gritty subjects with integrity. Looking forward to it.


Whew! I was worried for a moment that hype would override art, but I see McQueen knew who was ready for the part of Patsey…unlike some. I don't know her pedigree, but this lady's gorgeous! She beat some STIFF competition, for real!

Adam Scott Thompson

I love it when a "Roots"-type project — minus the possessive "Tyler Perry's" — comes along that allows all the black actors to team up and collect a check!


I am a huge Alfre Woodard fan. This is very exciting news. I am definitely looking forward to this one!


Oh man! This movie is going to be deliciously painful to watch! A Must See of 2013!


I am enjoying these "12 Years A Slave" casting updates immensely. Inspiration.


"Pardon my French but f*ck Django Unchained. This is the one we should be talking about." – !!!!!!!


I've met Lupita! I'm so excited for this now! :D


Pardon my French but f*ck Django Unchained. This is the one we should be talking about.


Nadine, are you excited about this film or not? I can't tell. LOL No seriously, I would have no problem fangirling for this film. McQueen truly has all the ingredients to produce one hell of an adaptation.


Lupita is known for playing a leading role on the MTV produced mini series Shuga, set in Nairobi.


Okay… I'm going to stop after this… but HARRIET SHAW, who will be played by the lovely Alfre Woodard, is the Black wife of Epps neighbor. …the soap incident…


This is one IMPRESSIVE (yes I am shouting) cast!!


So if Negga is probably Eliza and Lupita Nyong'o is Patsey, does that mean Adepero is probably playing Solomon's wife? Or is it more likely that her role is expanded from the autobiography, possibly one of the slaves on the plantation?


Well, having read the script, I can say that Woodard's role is minor yet poignant. She's so going to kill this part too! :)

She was a slave who's now more of a common law wife of Master Shaw, a well-to-do plantation owner, whom Master Epps is jealous/envious of. Woodard's character "gave in" to his "affections" long ago, so she wouldn't have to struggle working in the field. She's settled, comfortable and perhaps arrogant in her position, a victim of the times and cirmcustances nonetheless. BTW, Patsey visits her on Sundays.

That's all I will say!



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