Twelve Years a Slave (2)

The name Solomon Northup may not ring a bell for most people, but Steve McQueen and his star-studded cast could help change that this winter with Twelve Years a Slave.

Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Northup, a free man who was tricked and sold into slavery as an adult. He spent a dozen years working on plantations before eventually finding his way to freedom once more. Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Fassbender, Sarah Paulson, Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight HenryPaul Giamatti, Michael K. Williams, Alfre Woodard, and newcomer Lupita Nyong’o are also among the cast. See the first official stills from the movie after the jump.

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This week Fox Searchlight has picked up two films that could be huge winter releases for the label. Yesterday we caught word of the finalization of a deal for Searchlight to distribute Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, with a release possibly happening in late 2013.

Now the company has announced plans to distribute Steve McQueen‘s Shame follow-up Twelve Years a Slave. The film is set for a December 27 release.

McQueen’s latest is drawn from the 1853 autobiography of Solomon Northup, who detailed his kidnapping and enslavement and the fate he suffered while being sold from one owner to another. The picture features Chiwetel Ejiofor as Northup, with performances from  Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Paul Dano, Alfre Woodard, Garret Dillahunt, Lupita Nyong’o, Adepero Oduye, Scott McNairy, Sarah PaulsonMichael K. Williams, Chris Chalk, Dwight Henry, Quvenzhane Wallis and Brad Pitt. The first image from the film is here.

Director Steve McQueen‘s last two films, Hunger and Shame, were relatively intimate affairs with smallish casts anchored by Michael Fassbender. In contrast, his upcoming Twelve Years a Slave, boasts a far more expansive cast — and what a cast it is. In addition to established names like Fassbender, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Brad Pitt, the lineup also includes up-and-comers like Pariah actress Adepero Oduye and Beasts of the Southern Wild star Dwight Henry. Now, with shooting already underway, Henry’s Beasts co-star Quvenzhané Wallis has apparently been added to the roster as well.

The first photo from the set shows Ejiofor and Wallis alongside an adult actress and a child actor. It looks like the foursome comprise the Northrup family, though we don’t have enough info at this point to say for sure. Check out the image and read more about the film after the jump.

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I’m starting to suspect Steve McQueen watches the same TV we do. The British director of Hunger and Shame has already cast Sherlock‘s Benedict Cumberbatch, Saturday Night Live‘s Taran Killam, and Raising Hope‘s Garret Dillahunt in his upcoming Twelve Years a Slave, and he’s now added another small-screen favorite. Michael K. Williams, a.k.a. Omar Little on The Wire, has just boarded the cast, which also includes Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, and Brad Pitt. More details after the jump.

UPDATE: A few hours after this post went up, it was announced that Beasts of the Southern Wild star Dwight Henry had also joined Twelve Years a Slave.

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Those who’ve been locked into the first two seasons of Sherlock are likely well-established members of the cult of Benedict Cumberbatch at this point. The actor has an unusual combination of humor, intelligence, and physicality that makes him ideal for Sherlock Holmes, and that appeal is starting to expand into more feature roles. Cumberbatch has a couple big pictures coming up in the next two years, as he’s playing a crucial role in The Hobbit, and he’s the villain the new Star Trek film.

Now, perhaps most exciting, Cumberbatch has been cast in Twelve Years a Slave, which is the third teaming of director Steve McQueen (Hunger, Shame) and actor Michael Fassbender. Read More »

Here’s an update to the developing news on Steve McQueen‘s third film, Twelve Years a Slave, that is pretty minor in terms of word count, but potentially huge for the movie. We know that Chiwetel Ejiofor will play Solomon Northrup, a free black man kidnapped in Washington in 1841 and made to serve as a slave for over a decade. Michael Fassbender, who featured in McQueen’s last two films, Hunger and Shame, will also play a role.

Brad Pitt‘s company Plan B is producing the film, and now the actor will take a role in the movie, too. Read More »

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