Young 'Beasts Of The Southern Wild' Star Quvenzhané Wallis Joins Steve McQueen's 'Twelve Years A Slave'

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by Oliver Lyttelton
August 1, 2012 11:18 AM
6 Comments
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Given the quality of "Hunger" and "Shame," it's no surprise that there's a long queue to work with director Steve McQueen, but even considering that, the cast he's put together for period epic "Twelve Years A Slave" is quite extraordinary. The film's led by one of the most exciting actors working today, Chiwetel Ejifor, who plays Solomon Northrup, a free man in the 1840s who was kidnapped and kept for the titular dozen years as a slave before escaping.

And the cast also includes McQueen's regular collaborator Michael Fassbender, megastar Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Paul Dano, Sarah Paulson, Garret Dillahunt, Ruth Negga, Taran Killam, Adepero Oduye, Alfre Woodard and Michael K. Williams, making it probably the single 2013 release that we're most excited about.

But McQueen isn't stopping there, as a set photo from the film uncovered by our Indiewire colleagues Shadow & Act reveals that he's also added one of the most talked-about actresses of the year so far to the film; albeit one who certainly isn't old enough to have seen either "Hunger" or "Shame" -- Quvenzhané Wallis, the young star of acclaimed indie hit "Beasts Of The Southern Wild." The photo reveals Wallis in costume with Ejiofor, and Shadow & Act, who've confirmed independently that Wallis is in the cast, suggest that she might be playing Northrup's daughter, although there are also reasons to believe it could be another role.

Wallis, who was only six years old when 'Beasts' was filmed (she's now eight), has received universal acclaim for her role in Benh Zeitlin's film, with many tipping her to become the youngest-ever Oscar nominee for her performance. And neatly, the new film will serve as something of a reunion for the young star, as her screen father in her debut, Dwight Henry, is also in the cast of "Twelve Years A Slave" -- the actor landed the part of 'Uncle Abram' a few weeks back.

It's unlikely to be a major role in the film, but it's exciting to see Wallis land something so exciting as her follow-up, and just as thrilling for McQueen's ludicrously talented cast to get even better. Filming is now underway, and this should be a major player in the 2014 Oscar race -- our money's on a Cannes debut for the film.

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6 Comments

  • oresteio | August 1, 2012 4:39 PMReply

    Chiwetel Ejifor is one of the most exciting actors working today!? What kind of statement is that? I'm shocked to read it.

  • NHK | August 1, 2012 8:59 PM

    Well, he is one of the best actors of his generation (stage and screen) but unfortunately rarely gets the opportunities that his fellow (and white ) countrymen do. How about that instead?

  • J | August 1, 2012 2:48 PMReply

    Was at a screening of BOTSW with one of the producers this weekend and he mentioned that she was shooting scenes for McQueen. Very exciting for her, especially with zero acting training. This little girl is already an amazing talent.

  • Kate | August 1, 2012 11:59 AMReply

    I don't know how much this info's worth, but one of the guys in the cinematography department has a Twitter account and said that they were aiming for January. Whether that meant a limited release or Sundance, I'm not sure. But he's also tweeted a bit about what awards season might be like and it sounded as if this film's producers might try to start a conversation about white paternalism and black stories (see Django Unchained).

  • Ren | August 1, 2012 11:46 AMReply

    How is it going to have a Cannes debut and be in the running for the 2013 Oscars? Films wishing to be contenders for the 2013 Oscars need to be released before Jan 1, 2013 and Cannes is in May of 2013. Also, Northup's daughter is not Eliza. Eliza is a completely different character in the story. His daughter's name is Elizabeth.

  • Adam | August 1, 2012 7:26 PM

    Actually, the Oscars that will be held next year award movies released in 2012, so they will be the 2012 Oscars, despite the event taking place in 2013.

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