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First Look: Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch & Chiwetel Ejiofor In '12 Years A Slave'

by Edward Davis
June 18, 2013 8:43 PM
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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.

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  • DHHV | September 5, 2013 11:32 PMReply

    Incredibly reckless to sacrifice the safety of a group of people over an hyper exaggerated art piece loosely based on a glimpse in history. While these actors go home to Beverly Hills, normal white people go home and become targets of an increasingly violent hyper sensitive racist black youth that are killing whites at a growing rampant number. daily

  • Grace | July 28, 2013 12:07 AMReply

    Lena Foster aka GorillaHunter is allegedly an ex girlfriend of one of the main characters of the cast. He dated a AA woman that got her extremely angry because he probably refused her generous offer to be his doormat. She has a modus operandi:1. lie low 2. emerge with outrageous statements on several sites etc. He has another crazy that goes around impersonating young AA women when in actual fact she is an middle aged Avon lady from Michigan. Her personas include British, Canadian Puerto Rican. etc all done very badly. Especially galling is her impersonation of young AA: they are always arguing projecting and deflecting : one suspect that it is her personality. Please do not let these two haters derail any serious conversation about film. They have infested IMB purseblog forum and in part LSA. Please engage at your own peril. They are haters really. Both have posted on this topic in the comment section.

    This is better submission of the prior comment.

  • Grace | July 28, 2013 12:03 AMReply

    Lena Foster aka GorillaHunter id allegedly an ex girlfriend of one of the main characters of the cast. He dated a AA woman that got her extremely angry because he probably refused her generous offer to be his doormat. She has a modus operandi:1. lie low 2. emerge with outrageous statements on several sites. She has another crazy that goes around impersonating young AA women when in actual fact she is an middle aged Avon lady from Michigan. Her personas include British, Canadian Puerto Rican. etc all done very badly. Especially galling is her impersonation of young AA: they are always arguing projecting and deflecting : one suspect that it is her personality. Please do not let these two haters derail any serious conversation about film. They have infested IMB purseblog forum and in part LSA. Please engage at your own peril. They are haters really.

  • n.fe | July 13, 2013 9:35 AMReply

    oh, lena. you sad, pathetic, racist moron.

  • Dede | June 19, 2013 3:51 PMReply

    PLEASE do not feed the Lena Foster troll. She's actually getting scarier.

  • mika291 | June 19, 2013 2:30 PMReply

    Looks really great- and I agree with Steve- many kudos to Brad Pitt for consistently working to make sure that worthy stories get told that otherwise wouldn't.

  • AE | June 19, 2013 10:53 AMReply

    "Without Brad, this film wouldn't have been made. Fact," WTF is up with movie financiers, are they intent on boring us all to death, it seems anything vaguely interesting or challenging is deemed unfinanceable. Surely if anyone's responsible for the decline of cinema it's the censorious men with the money bags.

  • Simone | June 19, 2013 7:23 AMReply

    I can't wait to see this at TIFF. it's going to be a very difficult film to watch, but I also expect it to be brilliant.

  • Susie | June 19, 2013 6:17 AMReply

    McQueen's films are intense; this film, from the sound of it, will be uncompromising in its presentation of the day-to-day reality of slavery. I hope this leads to an oscar nomination for Fassbender for supporting actor. He is one of the best actors of his generation, and it is really shameful (pun intended, I suppose) that both he and McQueen have been overlooked.

  • Susie | June 19, 2013 10:50 AM

    Dirty Pretty Things was 2002, Hunger was 2008. No need to be competitive in this regard. It just so happens that Fassbender's body of work in the years since Hunger has impressed and moved me greatly; I have a right to my feeling that he deserves at least a nomination. I meant nothing against Ejiofor.

  • spassky | June 19, 2013 9:30 AM

    I would say it is much much more shameful that Ejiofor has not received a nomination yet. Fassbender and McQueen have been on the prestige scene for a pretty short time, but DIRTY PRETTY THINGS came out, what? like 11 years ago?

  • A.J. | June 19, 2013 6:10 AMReply

    Can't wait to watch the film. McQueen always makes films that are made to be talked about and critiqued. He isn't a director that makes comedies with happy endings, so if someone has such objections about his films, should take into account that McQueen's background is in the fine arts.

  • A.J. | June 19, 2013 6:09 AMReply

    Can't wait to watch the film. McQueen always makes films that are made to be talked about and critiqued. He isn't a director that makes comedies with happy endings, so if someone has such objections about his films, should take into account that McQueen's background is in the fine arts.

  • Daniella | June 19, 2013 4:42 AMReply

    Please ignore this Lena Foster "person". She/he is a racist troll who goes around the internet and spreads her insane rhetoric on every post or article that has anything to do with Michael Fassbender. She/he is notorious on his IMDB message board for being obsessed with him, his choice in women and the race of those women. She/he is especially adept at having the majority of her insane posts deleted by the IMDB admins. In a nutshell, she/he is a nut without the shell. Keep feeding the troll. You'll see the crazy come out.

  • Louise | June 20, 2013 7:19 PM

    But Lena, you're the only one that's fighting here. Your large quantities of words to try to defend yourself just make you sound worse and worse. You've ruined a discussion about a MOVIE. Your tone sounds so angry. As if you personally know Steve and Michael and they have wronged you somehow. Sheez! If you have been offended personally by these two, then just stay away from anything to do with them. I would. I would not pollute my life with anything to do with them.

    I love history and have seen Steve's other two movies and they are just fantastic. I have no doubt that this one will be as well. I started reading the Book that this movie will be based on and it is intense. I had to put it down because I was so upset by it. I know these kinds of things happened, but being spelled out like that, it brings it to a different light. I hope I will be able to watch this movie. I will for sure need tissue as I did while reading the book. This is a historical story and well as Anne Frank. Anne and Solomon wrote about their experiences although we don't really know exactly what Anne went through as her diary stops before the really atrocious things took place in her life. With Solomon's writings we get to learn what was done to him. It is truly appalling. We know the things Anne went through because of others accounts. We know all peoples were treated the same. Both the Solomon character and Epps characters are played by incredible actors. While reading the cast, well I am just in awe of the talent involved in this production.

  • Fassbender | June 19, 2013 4:15 PM

    @lena - I still make movies, what do you do? haha troll on message boards

  • theGrEek | June 19, 2013 4:09 PM

    you are a fucking troll, get a life

  • Cinemadude | June 19, 2013 4:00 PM

    Wow that explains everything, she does seem rather obsessed in any matters regarding Fassbender, forum stalker perhaps? Her banal argument denouncing any artistic credibility in a film honestly depicting slavery is rather sophomoric.

  • craaaaaazy | June 19, 2013 1:56 PM

    Wow... Someone is cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs! Daniella, you were spot on.

  • Lena Foster | June 19, 2013 1:46 PM

    Hi Daniella,

    And there you have it folks. "Please ignore Lena Foster." Notice she said "keep feeding the troll. You'll see the crazy come out." And, then after that Daniella just happens to direct all of you to the IMDB message board to check out the fight. Interesting choice of words, Daniella. Thanks for making my point. Folks, what other actor does this to the fan base? Other actors do their jobs, have PR teams, and get themselves out there legitimately through the "front door." I have thought for some time now that Fassbender (whom I have read does not have a PR team like other actors/actresses) or someone connected to him either pays people or gets people (for free) to swarm the public fan boards to take control of the same, and chase anyone away (through the type of cyber bullying behavior evidenced by Daniella above) that says the slightest thing negative about him. This is just my opinion based upon the venom I have seen on Fassbender boards (and not others) inflict on myself and others at IMDB and other places where there are a group of posters that sit there all day long and feed information through the board (a lot of times insider information) and when someone comes along with a differing view they all report them as trolls, and call them names like "racist," "obsessed" "insane" "nut without a shell," "troll" and "crazy" etc. I suppose if this fight escalates, subpoenas can determine who all the players are (as computers store information even after deletion) and the public can find out the identity of posters through subpoena power with appropriate connections made through judicial discovery if necessary. But for now, this is merely what I have been wondering about for some time. I read that celebrities do hire people to post on blogs for them, so my speculation is not far fetched. Whether Fassbender is one of them, I do not know, nor am I saying he is. But, I personally do not agree that a free public fan board should be used by any celebrity as some sort of "back door," free, or discounted PR team (unless properly disclosed to the public) where the message is not only controlled, but fans are slandered, attacked, and/or bullied day in and day out in an attempt to keep the image scrubbed clean for the celebrity. Especially, if it is being done without full disclosure that it is not just a group of fans behind the bullying, but rather insiders with an agenda. And the bitter irony of all of this is Daniella's comments asking you to feed me as a "troll," mentioning IMDB (so that people will go there to see what the fuss is about), while calling a regular citizen all kinds of names. Sadly, in my opinion, Fassbender/McQueen would love nothing more than to stir up controversy for themselves (regardless of who they throw under the bus) in order to get attention for themselves which will mean more fame, fortune, and public exposure for themselves. That's my opinion, the First Amendment allows that in this country. I doubt seriously that Daniella or those people at IMDB or Fassbender for that matter (if he knew what was going on) would have a problem with any fight on IMDB, because in my opinion, given what I have heard and read about this man, he is a man that seems to gravitate to the center of controversy (with a smile on his face), align with others who enjoy stirring up controversy (while throwing others under the bus), and would possibly have no shame in throwing anyone under the bus to get whatever it is he wants for himself, for himself. And if he is doing this, is this with the support of his agent? The film companies? I have no problem with good legitimate PR. But, I don't see controversy like this around any other actor. Other actors have fans that are zealous but critical as well. I just think behavior calculated to get people agitated and irritated and fighting with each other is disgusting. Especially if it is calculated just to get more attention and more money for the actor/actress.

  • Jim | June 19, 2013 2:42 AMReply

    I must say that I am really intrigued by Cumberbatch's role. Baptist preacher and slave owner??? Interesting!!!

  • Akira | June 19, 2013 12:35 AMReply

    These still frames are fantastic. Ejiofor reflects pure agony.

  • Chris L. | June 18, 2013 10:59 PMReply

    I've only seen Chiwetel Ejiofor in a few films, including "Dirty Pretty Things" and "Talk to Me," but the impression left is that this man is one of the best, most quietly ferocious actors on the planet. And while it seems likely that winning awards is not high on his list of motivations (especially for this project), it would be very fitting if a host of moviegoers got to know and pronounce his name because of it.

  • lac | June 18, 2013 10:56 PMReply

    "Sounds like a bundle of laughs, right?" I bet that would not have been written about Schindler's List. But North Americans have such a problem dealing with slavery except if it is a spaghetti western type movie.

  • Louise | June 20, 2013 3:14 PM

    I am sorry I irritated you, Lena. Would you not call slavery atrocious? By 'making amends' I did not contemplate a compensation in any form, because there cannot be any compensation for the suffering caused and I do not see what harm a film could do to raise awareness in young people about past and, sadly, present history. Memory is short and should be kept alive. I was not only referring to the US. I could cite Nazi Germany or countries colonizing other countries, allegedly to export civilization or democracy. Or countries where women are slaves inasmuch as they are the property of men, countries where child labour is a widespread reality and countries plagued by sex tourism and prostitution. However, you do know that it is against German law to deny the holocaust. It is a little but important step towards 'making amends'. The funny thing is that I have not seen any films by McQueen or with Fassbender.

  • Lena Foster | June 19, 2013 3:35 PM


    Make amends for? Make amends for? So, there you have it white movie goers , Louise actually nailed it. A possible McQueen/Fassbender agenda? These men coming to America to "teach" all the allegedly racist white Americans a history lesson so that white America can once again be called upon to "make amends" for the many alleged atrocities inflicted on black America. Oh no... am I in denial? If I don't agree that white people are racist and bad, then I am a white racist in denial? If I don't side with black racist attitudes and hate myself and white people in general, then I am a racist? If I don't "cry uncle," relent and agree to "make amends" I am a white racist? Never mind that no one tells you how you are supposed to make amends, although someone once told me that they thought Congress should pay $$ to black people as damages. And on a related note, Lac "North Americans have such problem dealing with slavery..." what do you suggest we do in order to "deal with it?" What would make you Louise, McQueen and Fassbender happy, huh? Any specific plan? Do white Americans just make themselves disappear so that black people don't have to feel victimized anymore or feel inferior? Do white Americans just agree to vacate their homes and their jobs so that black people can take those over without competition or merit? Do white American's need to be imprisoned as a group as punishment? 50 Hail Mary's? National "time out" and standing in a really big corner? Somehow make it so that black people never have to suffer any sort of capitalistic stress again? Do you actually have an "answer" to how to "deal with it," or are you just trying to sound "brilliant" by being cryptic while trying to shield your excitement for just another movie targeted at white America in order to irritate, agitate, anger and stir up conflict among the masses?

  • Louise | June 19, 2013 6:23 AM

    For chrissake, Lena, sit down! The US intervened in WW2 when the Nazi army had already been vanquished by the Russians, who lost in the war 20 million people. 20 million. You love your country, and you are right to do so. But you should not ignore your past history. I live in a European country, and I love it. But if I look at our past history and mistakes made I cringe. We all have our fair share of atrocities to make amends for.

  • hank | June 19, 2013 4:33 AM

    that's right, we saved you from the Nazis!

    Actually, the Russians saved you from the Nazis, but we'll take the credit.

  • Lena Foster | June 18, 2013 11:25 PM

    Oh, and you know all 300,000,000 of us Americans? And where are you from? Possibly one of the countries us fighting Americans rescued from the Nazi regime (as you brought up Schindler's list, not me) or the untold other oppressive regimes all over the world during our history. You're welcome, by the way. This movie ought to do great in countries with people that hate America; at least until they are oppressed and come begging for our money and help. Didn't happen to see (did you) McQueen's analogizing Northrup, one of the free adult black men of the era who somehow managed to get himself tricked into slavery for 12 years (but yet survived his ordeal) because "all he wanted to do was get back to his family" to Anne Frank (in the USA article), a mere child who was slaughtered in Nazi gas chambers along with her entire family? McQueen/Fassbender definitely have an agenda to teach about America. I love my country. If you don't like my country, then don't let the door hit you on the way out guys. No one is asking you to come here, lecture us on how terrible we are and ask us to pay you to do films for the privilege of your lecture directed at us.

  • Mason | June 18, 2013 9:55 PMReply

    I saw it at a screening and it is not Django without the comedy. What utter crap. Sounds like something someone who knows absolutely nothing about slavery would say. You all are going to feel like fools for even posting that person's ridiculous description once you see the film for yourselves. Also, how many times does it need to be mentioned that this film is nothing like Django? Has the author of this post even researched the movie?

  • Lebowski | June 19, 2013 4:07 PM

    Woe is me, Mcqueen said ONE comment that got your douche flustered, cry me a river. And how they continue to make great films is a matter of their own discretion. Atleast they're not imploding the film industry, like all of the major conglomerates who blow ridiculously asinine production values on sugarcoated biopics.

  • Lena Foster | June 19, 2013 2:08 PM

    Oh, I expected someone to say that the Frank/Northup comparison was just about their writings. You wouldn't say that if you knew McQueen's past. The analogy may have well been a pretentious controversial and intentional "bait" to get the conversation going (because McQueen and Fassbender's movies generally don't stand on their merit any other way, in my opinion and they got to have something to bring attention to themselves don't they?) but, I am of the opinion that McQueen knew very well that his comment was about comparing the severity of Northup's plight to that of Anne Frank. The differences: Anne Frank, a mere child who was a victim of the most hateful regimes in mankind's history, who did NOT survive the holocaust, but was rather slaughtered along with the rest of her entire family (and millions of others) in a calculated worldwide quest to wipe out (commit genocide) of an entire race of people. Solomon Northup (who was one of the few black men of his era "born a free man" who was not the child victim of a world wide genocidal psychopathic war machine, but rather was a free adult who got himself "tricked" into slavery (for 12 years), who suffered like many others (who were actually born into and died in slavery) and who was able to escape and live another day, i.e., returning to his family. The only similarity (objectively) between Frank and Northup is pen and ink. No other objective similarity.

    What is so pathetic about Fassbender and Mcqueen is that I believe they pat themselves on the back because they feel they are so successful in getting everyone all "riled" up and fighting each other. They don't just make movies. Their agenda is to irritate and provoke people into talking about things that really have no social relevance TODAY. But, Anything for a buck, in my opinion. It's disgusting to me.

  • Kate | June 19, 2013 11:46 AM

    Yeah, I found that comparison to Django to be particularly clueless & I haven't even seen the movie. I guess all films that have slavery as a subject are exactly alike? Without taking into consideration things like tone, character and narrative arc? Django is an action/fantasy/comedy about an illiterate slave becoming a free, literate man taking revenge in very cartoonish fashion. 12YAS is the horror story of a black man who was born free, was professional and literate, but was illegally enslaved and lived through torment. So similar right? They're actually mirror opposite character arcs.

  • Alan B | June 19, 2013 3:46 AM

    "I think one can make similar comparisons between Northup and Frank. They survived ..." Err, Frank didn't. The comparison was that both people experienced significant turmoil and their writings were iconic explorations of their respective subjects.

  • Akira | June 19, 2013 2:01 AM

    Lena's rhetoric is rather flawed, I think one can make similar comparisons between Northup and Frank. They survived the slaughter, the turmoil, discrimination and xenophobia, all the while tirelessly raging against subservience and oppression.

  • EGGHEAD | June 19, 2013 1:41 AM

    @Lena. Are you trying to brush off slavery as a pointless subject just because you think it doesn't compare to the holocaust?

  • Alan B | June 19, 2013 1:12 AM

    Damn, what is your problem? Is it SO OFFENSIVE that one person's tragedy were compared to another? THAT's offensive to you?

  • Lena Foster | June 18, 2013 11:58 PM

    "Has the author of this post even researched the movie?" Of course, you , Mason, know that McQueen stated in the USA Today article that he felt Solomon Northup was the "Anne Frank of that time." As if an adult survivor of captivity could ever be compared to a child victim of the holocaust (a child who was slaughtered in a gas chamber with her family and millions of others in systematic worldwide ethnic genocidal cleansing)? And who is not researching what again? Better have a conversation with your man McQueen to do his own research before making dumb comments like that. How pathetic. And this is the man to teach us Americans about our history?

  • EGGHEAD | June 18, 2013 9:10 PMReply

    This film will surely prove that Tarantino should of never made the type of slavery movie he did (and I love Tarantino). To use slavery as a form of comedic entertainment seems so irresponsible as a filmmaker. Being that '12 years' is based on a true story it looks as though McQueen actually has something to say about the subject.

  • Alan B | June 19, 2013 8:45 PM

    "And to that Alan B, who suggested I am trying to "brush off slavery," are you "brushing off Anne Frank's""

    Yeah, I never said that you were "brush off slavery" but I am glad to see that your reading skills are as well developed as your critical thinking skills. Can I please, please have another incoherent, hateful and BORING rant about pesky Europeans? That shit is RIVETING!

  • lena foster | June 19, 2013 2:53 PM

    DavidGoyer blah blah blah,

    I would not tell you to get your head out of your *ss because I'm sort of wondering whether they are one in the same and non-detachable. No, Spielberg can do what he wants. And, the last time I checked being Jewish is not about "country," its more than that. If you are asking me what is wrong with a film maker doing things? Nothing if it has to do with a film. But, if it has to do with just trying to throw anything out there (controversial) to get attention to make a name for yourself, that to me is not good cinema, and is in fact cheating (just my opinion). But, as I have said before, that is why they paint garage doors white and sell lawn chairs. But, by the same token, I don't have to praise it. And, here's the real cool thing. If the guy says something smarmy, I get to voice my objections. Or does your fass have eyes to even read this? And when I said fass, I was merging the words "face" and "*ss" which incidentally spells...well you know...

    And to that Alan B, who suggested I am trying to "brush off slavery," are you "brushing off Anne Frank's" slaughter in the gas chambers by reducing this child's plight to that of an adult man who was able to survive his confinement and to live another day thereafter? Don't worry about it. Fassbender and McQueen are probably "high fiving" themselves right now in that they have been able to irritate, agitate, anger, and upset in order to get attention for themselves. The one thing that they will not be able to get around though is that thus far, none of McQueen or Fassbender's films have made large sums at the box office. So, I guess they have to resort to lots of nudity, gratuitous sex, feces smearing, comments like the Anne Frank comment, just to make people pay attention to them in an effort to hang on in the movie making industry. Pathetic. And no, Spielberg NEVER had to do this. His work (alone) carried him along the way to success for many many decades.

  • davidgoyershouldntwritemossequel | June 19, 2013 2:36 AM

    My God, Lena Foster, get your head out of your ass, will you? What's wrong with a filmmaker making a story that he feels is compelling, but just happens to not be from his own country? By your definition of things, Steven Spielberg shouldn't have even made Schindler's list because the story was from a "foreign" country, or any other director making a lot of other compelling movies.

  • Jean | June 19, 2013 2:16 AM

    American's are too anal to accurately depict slavery, instead opting for hyper-exaggerated renditions such as 'Django Unchained' to historically incorrect melodramatic pieces such as Spielberg's 'Amistad" or 'Lincoln' and even Griffiths intolerable masterpiece 'The birth of a Nation'. Sooo yeah evidently it will take a snobbish Brit and his equally snobbish muse to teach us "dumb" Americans how to depict slavery.

  • Lena Foster | June 18, 2013 11:34 PM

    Get over it. This is a remake of Solomon Northup's story. McQueen isn't even the first film maker to do it (am I wrong about that? or correct?) And, how many other movies (have been made about slavery)? Oh, but we have all just been waiting, waiting, waiting, for a British foreign film maker who has described himself as a "terrible student," and a "bit of a snob" and who has the callous audacity to compare an "adult" man (who was born free, but thereafter got tricked into but survived "captivity") to Anne Frank (an innocent child who was slaughtered in a horrifying gas chamber with her family) to come along with his foreign acting muse (Fassbender) to teach us "dumb" Americans the "true" story behind slavery. Give me a royal break. Pass.

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