Speculate no more; after months, and several posts wondering what role Michael Fassbender would play in Steve McQueen’s adaptation of Solomon Northup’s 12 Years A Slave – specifically, whether he’ll play the narrative’s main “villain” the incredibly cruel plantation owner, Edwin Epps (who Northup spends a significant portion of his 12 years in bondage with) – we have our answer.
Based on today’s casting news, I was able to determine that Fassbender will indeed play Epps in the film.
First, recall I said in my book-to-script write-up that I didn’t immediately see Fassbender in the Epps role, if only because they just aren’t a physically match; Epps is, as already noted in previous post, is described as middle-aged and, from Northup’s description of him in the book, a large (more fat than muscle) intimidating man.
Of course McQueen might be taking some creative liberties with the part in casting Fassbender; either that or Fassbender will be putting on a bunch of weight.
In today’s casting news, it was announced that Paul Giamatti and Sarah Paulson have joined the cast of the project, with Giamatti taking on the role of Freeman, who takes possession of the slaves when they arrive in New Orleans, and Paulson playing “Fassbender’s jealous wife,” the Variety report reads.
Now, as both Vanessa and I have noted in our individual write-ups of the film (my book-to-film report, and Vanessa’s review of the actual script), the one character we know of who has a jealous wife is Edwin Epps… ie, Fassbender.
Epps is married, and his wife is aware of his infidelities with Patsey (one of his slaves), and for that reason, she routinely orders Patsey whipped. She hates Patsey and of course blames her for Epps’ indiscretions, even though Patsey doesn’t exactly have any say in the matter.
So, as far as I’m concerned, this is a solved “case.”
It’s one heck of a role for Fassbender. If he does his job, and is believable as Epps, you’re not going to like him much after this, because Epps is almost as *evil* a plantation owner as you’ll find in the history books. He’s uneducated, ignorant, an alcoholic, and just a mean bastard. Add the fact that he’s in a position of power, and you’ve got a lethal combo there.
Giamatti and Paulson join the already-cast Chiwetel Ejiofor, Ruth Negga, Adepero Oduye, Paul Dano, Benedict Cumberbatch, Scoot McNairy, Garret Dillahunt, and Brad Pitt.
Production will begin this summer.