Director Steve McQueen has pulled together quite the impressive cast for his new project, Twelve Years a Slave. The true-story slavery drama will be headlined by Chiwetel Ejiofor (Serenity, American Gangster) with support from Brad Pitt and rising stars Michael Fassbender (Prometheus) and Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock).
Among the additional side players previously confirmed for Twelve Years a Slave are acclaimed character actors/actresses like Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood), Adepero Oduye (Pariah), Scoot McNairy (Killing Them Softly), and Ruth Negga (Love/Hate).
Twelve Years a Slave was co-written by McQueen and John Ridley (Three Kings, Red Tails), based on the memoir titled "Twelve Years a Slave: Narrative of Solomon Northup, a Citizen of New-York, Kidnapped in Washington City in 1841, and Rescued in 1853." Here is an official synopsis for the film adaptation (you can also check out Northup's original writings online):
SOLOMON NORTHUP (Chiwetel Ejiofor), an educated black man with a gift for music, lives with his wife and children in Saratoga, New York. One day, when his family is out of town, he is approached by two men claiming to be circus promoters. Solomon agrees to travel with them briefly, playing the fiddle while they perform. But after sharing a drink with the men, he awakens to find he has been drugged and bound and faces a horrifying reality: he is being shipped to the South as a slave.
Variety is reporting that the latest additions to the Twelve Years a Slave cast include Oscar-nominee Paul Giamatti (Sideways, Cinderella Man), Golden Globe-nominee Sarah Paulson (Martha Marcy May Marlene, American Horror Story) and celebrated character actor Garret Dillahunt (Deadwood, Raising Hope). Can you say "most awesome cast ever?"
McQueen has only directed two feature-length films to date (Hunger and Shame), but both were critically-acclaimed for their captivating, unflinching examinations of difficult subject matter - specifically, the 1981 IRA Hunger Strike, and the life of a man with a sex addiction/disorder. Hence, if there's any director out there who has demonstrated the skills necessary for a proper film treatment of Northup's brutal and heart-breaking tale, it's McQueen.
Given the fantastic cast at McQueen's disposal, it's difficult to imagine Twelve Years a Slave will be anything but a great piece of cinema. Admittedly, though, it should also prove to be a very difficult film to sit through - much like the director's previous work. We're up for the challenge - how about you?
Twelve Years a Slave is slated to begin production later this month. Look for it to reach theaters by late 2013.