By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com August 1, 2012 at 11:18AM
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.