A movie by U.K. helmer Steve McQueen is always cause for celebration, but this one sounds like it’s going to be his most brutal. And it’s not like “Hunger” or “Shame” were easy walks in the park either. Based in a true story, McQueen’s latest, “12 Years A Slave,” is just what it sounds like, a harsh slave drama set in the South. In fact, someone on Twitter the other day says a friend saw it and described it as “Django Unchained” without the comedy. Sounds like a bundle of laughs, right? Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, the actor plays Solomon Northup, a free man tricked, captured and sold into slavery in the film based off of Northup’s autobiography. The rest of the cast is rather stellar too and features Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti, Paul Dano, Sarah Paulson and Alfre Woodard.
USA Today has a first look from the movie including photos that include Dwight Henry of “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” Henry’s ‘Beasts’ co-star Quvenzhane Wallis is also in the film, but not pictured. We know that Fassbender plans a ruthless plantation owner, but USAToday also reveals that Benedict Cumberbatch plays Baptist preacher William Ford, Ejiofor’s first owner (and a benevolent one at that). Sarah Paulson plays Fassbender’s wife Mistress Epps and the film also includes actress Lupita Nyongo (pictured with Paulson), Scoot McNairy, Michael Kenneth Williams and Garret Dillahunt.
Pitt’s role is small, but as a producer, essential. “Without Brad, this film wouldn’t have been made. Fact,” McQueen said. “Just his presence sometimes could lift everyone’s mood. It’s like having a great ballplayer on a team. He doesn’t have to play a big role, but his presence can lift everyone’s game.”
“He goes through an extraordinary ordeal, a very painful, brutal experience, and found a kind of redemption on the other side of it,” McQueen told USA Today about Ejiofor’s character, and apparently Fassbender’s performance is fierce. “[It’s one] that no one’s ever seen before, and that’s saying something.” Probably not for the faint of heart, Fox Searchlight is releasing “12 Years A Slave” on December 27, 2013.