It has been quite a journey for everyone involved with Benh Zeitlin‘s “Beasts Of The Southern Wild.” Bowling over audiences at the Sundance Film Festival and Cannes Film Festival, the magical film has also put two previously unknown faces — Quvenzhané Wallis and Dwight Henry, in the lead roles, each making their first film — firmly on the map. And now they’re getting the attention of Hollywood with the latter now bagging a role in one of the most star-studded, highly anticipated dramas of next year.
Henry has joined the increasingly amaz-tastic cast of Steve McQueen‘s “Twelve Years A Slave” where he’ll star alongside Chiwetel Ejiofor, Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Scoot McNairy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Paul Dano, Sarah Paulson, Garret Dillahunt, Ruth Negga, Taran Killam, Adepero Oduye, Alfre Woodard and Michael K. Williams. And the remarkable thing is, Henry nearly didn’t star in ‘Beasts’ at all. The Washington Post, who have revealed his casting in ‘Slave,’ note that Henry, who owns and operates the Buttermilk Drop Bakery in New Orleans, turned down Zeitlin’s film three times before finally accepting.
“We went there every morning for grits and doughnuts, and we got to know him,” Zeitlin said. “He talked about his life, things he had been through, and parts of his life got written into the film. At some point, we realized he was the one we wanted for this film.”
“I’m glad I did it, but at the time, I was reluctant to do it, to sacrifice my business that I had worked so hard to open for a chance at a possible movie career,” Henry said. We’re glad he did it too. He’s a pretty astounding presence in Zeitlin’s film and it’ll be interesting to see him as part of a group of much more seasoned actors.
No word yet on what his role will be, but “Twelve Years A Slave” is currently filming so we’ll find out soon enough.