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TYaS actors

Post by Admin on Thu Oct 25, 2012 3:46 pm

http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/lifestyle/2012/10/19/lupita-nyongo-going-non-stop-in-hollywood/


Lupita Nyong’o going ‘Non-Stop’ in Hollywood
Posted on October 19th, 2012 by LAURA WALUBENGO

Another Hollywood door has opened up for Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o, this time in the form of an action thriller called Non-Stop that features Liam Neeson (Taken) and Emmy Award winner Julianne Moore.

Lupita plays an air hostess called Gwen in the film, where Neeson is a Federal Air Marshall who has to stave off a hostage scenario of sorts.

The plot involves Neeson receiving threatening messages during the flight from a criminal who says that the lead actor must kill himself, or watch one passenger die every 20 minutes.

Lupita’s role will be alongside Michelle Dockery of the ultra-famous TV production Downton Abbey.

“I got the role about three weeks ago and we start shooting in November in New York,” she told Capital Lifestyle.

The young actress, who is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama, recently wrapped up filming for the drama 12 Years a Slave, starring Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt among others in an impressive cast line-up.

She played the role of Patsey, a slave who is the object of both the cruelty and affection of Master Epps, played by Fassbender,

Her performance in the role was feted by fellow actors including UK-based Nigerian star Chiwetel Ejiofor.

“We just finished 12 Years a Slave and it was an incredible cast of people. Lupita Nyong’o was there, yes… During the final shoot of the film, Lupita was central to the story and she was terrific. She’s a very talented actress,” he said in an interview with Capital Lifestyle.

Both 12 Years a Slave and Non-Stop are expected to be released in 2013.

Non-Stop is director Jaume Collet-Serra’s baby, and will be under Silver Pictures. Collet-Serra has five movies under his belt including Unknown, Orphan and House of Wax

Neeson and Moore play a couple in the movie that also stars Corey Stoll, Linus Roache and the talented Nate Parker.

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Re: TYaS actors

Post by Admin on Thu Oct 25, 2012 3:59 pm

http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2012/10/11/alfre-woodard-on-the-economy-of-slavery-and-twelve-years-a-slave/

October 11, 2012, 10:00 AM ET

When Slavery Was Big Business

By Alexandra Cheney

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF. — In Steve McQueen’s “Twelve Years A Slave,” actress Alfre Woodard plays Mistress Shaw, a former slave who has elevated herself in the southern plantation caste system.

The film is based on Solomon Northup’s 1853 autobiography of the same name. Northup, a black man born free in New York state who was later kidnapped and sold into slavery, spent 12 years working on a Louisiana plantation prior to the Civil War.

“This is not a mythical version of slavery that Steve is telling, but a historical moment without a contemporary take. He’s taking you back to that time when slavery was a way of life, a business and part of society,” Woodard said.

Woodard spent three weeks on set working with Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender and Chiwetel Ejiofor, who plays Northup.

“The reality is that way of life lasted for 300 years,” Woodard added.

As the mistress of a plantation, Woodard’s Shaw “has certain privileges,” explained the actress, one of which was inviting other slaves for tea on her patio.

Woodard shot the scenes in July in Louisiana and found herself “fascinated” by the world McQueen had brought to life.

“I hope this film will help Americans think about and accept slavery as part of our history, not just dismiss it as this terrible time,” Woodard said.

Woodard can currently be seen in the Lifetime remake of “Steel Magnolias.”

“Twelve Years A Slave” is due out next year.

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Re: TYaS actors

Post by Admin on Thu Oct 25, 2012 4:11 pm

http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/new-pic-from-twelve-years-a-slave-set-confirms-adepero-oduye-as-eliza-storm-reid-as-emily

New Pic From 'Twelve Years A Slave' Set Confirms Adepero Oduye As 'Eliza' & Storm Reid As 'Emily'
News
by Tambay A. Obenson
August 8, 2012 4:40 PM

The film is not yet listed on her (Storm Reid's) IMDB nor IMDBPro pages, but the photo above (and below in full), as well as the caption that accompanied it ("Storm Reid as "Emily" and Adepero Oduye as "Eliza" on set of Twelve Years a Slave directed by Steve McQueen") most certainly are.

And with that, we can confirm what I think we all already knew - that Adepero Oduye is playing Eliza in the film; although we didn't know that Storm Reid is playing her daughter Emily.

Next to Patsey (who will be played by Lupita Nyong'o), Eliza is the other prominent female role in the story, and should provide Adepero with enough of a challenge, and lots of screen time to shine.

In short, Eliza is a slave with 2 children - Randall and Emily; we know her as a smart, strong woman (as Solomon Northup describes her), eventually devastated by the loss of her children. As I recall, she has 2 or 3 really of what I'd call powerful, emotional scenes that I think won't leave a single eye dry in the audience when the film is eventually released.

I'd even go as far as to say that it's the kind of role that, despite the fact that it's not THE starring role, could draw lots of acclaim, and awards, depending on how Steve McQueen and Adepero approach the material. Although, really, one could say that about each of the few starring roles in the film.

Regardless, this could be a strong showcase for Adepero and her abilities.

As for Storm Reid, based on her short IMDB page (there are just 2 projects listed on it), this will most certainly be her highest profile role, and she too will get her moment to shine in Twelve Years A Slave.

I did some googling, and found 2 videos of Storm on YouTube, auditioning for parts in Vipaka (the upcoming Forest Whitaker, Anthony Mackie, Sanaa Lathan thriller), and Tyler Perry's Good Deeds (she didn't get either part). Both videos are embedded below, underneath the full photo of she and Adepero on the Twelve Years A Slave Set:

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Re: TYaS actors

Post by Admin on Wed Nov 07, 2012 1:28 am

http://collider.com/paul-giamatti-twelve-years-a-slave-interview/208828/


Paul Giamatti Talks TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE, Working with Director Steve McQueen, His Role As a Wealthy Slave Trader and How Difficult It Was to Play
by Christina Radish Posted: November 5th, 2012 at 10:42 pm

One of the films for 2013 that I’m most intrigued by is Steve McQueen’s Twelve Years A Slave, based on the memoirs of Solomon Northup, a free man living in New York during the mid-1800′s that was kidnapped and sold into slavery and kept in bondage for 12 years in Louisiana before the American Civil War. The cast includes Chiwetel Ejiofor (as the lead character), Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sarah Paulson, Paul Dano, Garret Dillahunt and Paul Giamatti, who recently spoke about the film and his role in it, while doing press for another upcoming film he has, the horror comedy John Dies at the End (which will be available on VOD on December 27th and in theaters on January 25, 2013).

Giamatti talked about how wild it was to be a part of such a historically terrifying story, that he describes as “a horror movie, in itself,” and said that he played one of the wealthiest slave traders in America, at that time, how difficult it was to do some of what his characters does to these people, and how amazing it was to work with the director, who wanted to create a world it which these actions were completely normal. Check out what he had to say after the jump.

Question: What was it like to do Twelve Years A Slave?

PAUL GIAMATTI: It was pretty wild. It was based on an actual slave narrative. He wrote it after the Civil War, but it’s about a guy who was a free black man in New York, and he was kidnapped and sold into slavery in New Orleans. He spent 12 years there, and then escaped again. It’s pretty terrifying. It’s a horror movie, in itself. It’s really bizarre.

Who did you play in it?

GIAMATTI: Most of the roles in it are real people. I play a guy who was one of the wealthiest slave traders in America, at the time. There are a million parts in it. But, I receive him and train him, and then sell him to this other guy. There’s a pretty harrowing sequence in a slave market that details how they actually processed him.

What was Steve McQueen like to work with?

GIAMATTI: He was amazing! He is a really, really interesting guy. The way it was shot, he is a very interesting dude. This movie could be really freaky. His whole take on it is to take any kind of modern sensibility off of it and just create a world in which it’s completely normal that people get chained up and beaten and sold to each other. He wanted to create a sense in which it’s totally normal, so he’s not commenting on it, at all.

steve-mcqueen-imageSo, he doesn’t whitewash it then?

GIAMATTI: He doesn’t whitewash, at all. I couldn’t believe some of the stuff that I had to do to some of these people.

How hard was that to do?

GIAMATTI: It was weird. For me, it was actually oddly easy. For the people I was doing it to, I’m sure it was hard. I had to handle these people in weird ways, like they were livestock. These people were remarkable. They were okay with it, but it was very weird. You’re able to forget about it. It’s a movie, and they call cut and it’s fine. But, it should probably be pretty disturbing when it’s all put together.

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Re: TYaS actors

Post by Admin on Tue Sep 10, 2013 4:59 pm

http://www.indiewire.com/article/12-years-a-slave-star-chiwetel-ejiofor-on-working-with-steve-mcqueen-and-the-international-appeal-of-the-drama


'12 Years a Slave' Star Chiwetel Ejiofor On Working With Steve McQueen and the International Appeal of the Drama

“12 Years a Slave” tells the true story of Solomon Northrup, a free man who was forced to live a life of servitude from 1841 to 1853 after being abducted and sold into slavery. Northrup wrote a memoir about these experiences that served as the primary source material for the film, directed by Steve McQueen (“Hunger," “Shame”). Indiewire and Thompson On Hollywood's Anne Thompson had a chance to talk to Chiwetel Ejiofor, the actor tasked with embodying Nothrup’s emotional journey, at the TIFF Filmmakers' Lounge over the weekend. For the full list of upcoming chats go HERE.

“12 Years a Slave” is has been hailed as a major cinematic accomplishment since first premiering in Telluride (go HERE for Indiewire's glowing review). It will see a limited release October 18th, but with the buzz that already building, this one is soon to be on everyone’s radar. Below are the highlights from our conversation:

On the adapting the autobiography to film:

“I think it has been done very successfully because it still keeps and maintains the essential essence of the story in the autobiography without adapting it to cinema in a way that changes something about its essential quality. It’s an extraordinarily poetic and visual autobiography, it really allows you to be there and be inside the experience. It’s a very precious historical document I think and real way of accessing the past in a way that I think is unique. It’s almost like Solomon Northrup’s gift to the modern world, if we are going to enter a dialogue about human respect and human dignity and what it means.”

Understanding Solomon’s psychology:

One of the most difficult scenes to shoot was one where Solomon is strung up all day in the sun, with only the tips of his toes supporting his weight. For Ejiofor, this scene became crucial in his understanding of the character.

“That scene is a moment of change in the autobiography; it’s a moment of change in the film. It was an important scene for me in terms of getting into Solomon’s psychology. One of the things I’ve always wondered having read the script, and I’d read it a few times and the book and I was still trying to work out the specifics of Solomon in the sense of how did survive this with his psychology intact? How can you get through something like this and then still be able write a book about it? A first person narrative about some of the things that happened to him just seemed unbelievable. There was something so extraordinary in the book that he says about that experience and to me it was the key into some part of his psychology, he says 'I would have given more years of servitude if they had only moved me into the shade.' And I thought that’s an extraordinary thing to put on paper years later. This is a man who is going to survive the situation no matter what. This is a person whose soul is not going to be broken by this.”

How Fassbender taught him to dance with McQueen:

This is the first McQueen film where Michael Fassbender doesn’t play the lead; he does however take a supporting role as the cruel slave owner Edwin Epps. Ejiofor talks about how this helped him find his own rhythm with the director.

“It’s a dance; you have to learn how to dance with one another. It’s not just an immediate thing and it’s definitely not a given, you might never find a way to dance with somebody. I think we had a bit of luck that Michael was on at the beginning of the movie. Steve has done these two incredible films with this guy and then he has another person come in and he wants to capture the same energy but it’s a different person who has different characteristics, so how do you immediately give over your trust to this new guy? It’s complicated; we had to find out about each other, what our expectations were of each other and the kind of people we were. Having Michael there for the first few weeks turned out to be this incredibly interesting conduit and through watching them, I learned their language. Like a child does, through watching the way that they communicated and the way that they spoke about it, I learned the way of filmmaking and actor/ director relations that he’s interested in.”

Working with an international cast and crew to tell an American story:

It took collaboration of talent from all over the world to bring this story to the screen. While some may view it as quintessentially American, Ejiofor sees the subject as being universal.

“The history of slavery and the complication of slavery is that it is an international concept. It is something that effected people who were our people. For example there were people from the west of Nigeria who were taken by the hundreds of thousands and brought to Louisiana. I’m Igbo, my family is Igbo. So it is a story that I’m connected to. Steve McQueen is from the West Indies, the slave trade in the West Indies was huge, it was vast, it was vicious, it was brutal. We are connected in the diaspora through this experience. We’re not separated by it, we are connected through it. To tell a story about human respect should take an international cast and crew.”

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Post by Admin on Fri Sep 13, 2013 4:21 pm

http://www.ctvnews.ca/entertainment/lupita-nyong-o-says-harrowing-12-years-a-slave-role-is-reward-enough-1.1450840

Lupita Nyong'o says harrowing '12 Years a Slave' role is reward enough
Sarah Paulson and Lupita Nyong'o

This film publicity image released by Fox Searchlight shows Sarah Paulson, left, and Lupita Nyong'o in a scene from "12 Years A Slave." The film, by director Steve McQueen, is being hailed a masterpiece and a certain Oscar heavyweight. (AP / Francois Duhamel)

Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, September 11, 2013 7:34PM EDT

TORONTO -- Many actors coolly shrug off Academy Awards buzz when asked about it on the film festival circuit.

But as newcomer Lupita Nyong'o reflected on the Oscar talk surrounding her heart-rending performance as real-life plantation worker Patsey in "12 Years a Slave," her emotions got the best of her.

"It's so exciting," the affable Kenyan actress said before getting choked up in an interview at the Toronto International Film Festival.

"But it's also such a relief that I seem to have done her justice," she continued, tears streaming down her face after taking a moment to collect herself on a hotel room sofa.

"And at the end of the day, Patsey was my reward and everything else is welcome and overwhelming and beautiful."

Audience members at the festival have also been shedding tears over Nyong'o's role of Patsey in director Steve McQueen's powerful, based-on-fact story of Solomon Northup, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor. The 19th-century black free man was an acclaimed musician with a family in upstate New York before being kidnapped and sold into slavery in the Deep South.

Nyong'o's Patsey was a hard-working slave who suffered horrific abuse at the hands of the reprehensible Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender) and his wife (Sarah Paulson) on their Louisiana plantation where Solomon wound up.

Co-stars include Benedict Cumberbatch as William Ford, Solomon's first master, and Paul Giamatti as a slave trader. Alfre Woodard plays a white plantation owner's wife, Paul Dano is a vile carpenter on Ford's property, and Brad Pitt (who also produces) is in the role of a Canadian abolitionist.

John Ridley wrote the screenplay that's based on Northup's autobiography.

McQueen, whose previous efforts include the acclaimed films "Hunger" and "Shame," doesn't pull any punches, delivering an unvarnished look at the brutality the slaves suffered -- particularly when it comes to Patsey.

Nyong'o said it was a "cathartic" experience seeing the film for the first time.

"I wept from the moment Solomon Northup is in shackles right until the very end, but it was like a relieving kind of experience as well, because Steve and everybody assembled put together such a beautiful piece of art and history, and I really felt that he did the autobiography justice and it was such a pleasure.

"I was happy to be such a wreck."

The Toronto International Film Festival runs through Sunday.

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Post by Admin on Fri Sep 13, 2013 4:28 pm

http://www.indiewire.com/article/12-years-a-slave-star-chiwetel-ejiofor-explains-why-he-was-worried-about-whether-he-could-pull-off-the-role

'12 Years a Slave' Star Chiwetel Ejiofor Explains Why He Was Worried About Whether He Could Pull Off the Role
"12 Years a Slave," directed by Steve McQueen.

Chiwetel Ejiofor is hardly a newcomer: Over the past 15 years, he has appeared in key supporting roles of movies ranging from Spike Lee's "Inside Man" to Woody Allen's "Melinda and Melinda." He starred in David Mamet's "Redbelt" and wore drag in "Kinky Boots." But none of those performances garnered the acclaim being heaped on to his top role in Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave" weeks ahead of its release. Powerfully received after screenings in Telluride and Toronto, McQueen's tale of a kidnapped free man in the 1840's who was sold into slavery features Ejiofor as real-life victim Solomon Northup. It's a raw, intimate depiction that provides an empathic center to the horrors of the times. Almost immediately after its first public screening, "12 Years a Slave" generated serious discussion about Ejiofor as the Oscar frontrunner for Best Actor.

But he has also garnered acclaim for more than that: The role presents a risk for any actor, particularly one not know for such risky material. Ejiofor sat down with Indiewire in Toronto last weekend to discuss why he hesitated before accepting the role and then eventually managed to prepare himself for it.

After the first Telluride screening, McQueen said you passed on the role when he first offered it to you, but you said that you just needed more time to think about it. What were your reservations?

Well, I was caught in a tension that has two major components: First, there's this story which has with it a huge responsibility -- not only to tell the tale of Solomon Northup for him and his descendants, but also the story of the slave trade in America and specifically at this time what that means. So there was the pause of that, the pause of, "Wow, this is right there," and the nature of the story as well. You know that it's going be a set kind of experience. Then there was the other pause, which is slightly more complex in a way, which is the pause as a performer: You wait your whole life for opportunities to play these great parts and you're hassling your agent, trying to read all these scripts, figuring all this stuff out. You're doing that in order to get to the point where somebody sends you a great script and a great part and then it comes through the door and you think, “Can I do this? Am I capable of it?"

And you were afraid you weren't capable of it?

That's what I’m saying, yeah, that you want to know whether you are able to do it, whether you are good enough to do it.

Obviously McQueen thought you were.

Other people might think so, but you're confronting yourself in that way, in that manner. Not that you necessarily ever expected to have that voice, and perhaps you always thought, "Anything that comes through my door, anything, I'll dive straight on a plane through the air and I’m there." This one was different, and it took me a moment to work out in both those parts what my feelings were about that and then I decided to try. I spoke to Steve and I said, "Well, listen, I’m going to give it a go."

More practically, what did you do while considering the part?

Well, I went back to the book and I went back to the script, basically. And I felt that there were at least half a dozen moments when reading the script where I was like, "I can be inside this experience."

For example?

The hanging [scene] and how that's described in the book, and how it's also described in the in the screenplay. I was like, "I understand this now, I am learning how to understand this now, and if I can understand it I can play it.

There’s a lot of other things to figure out: I have to learn how to play the violin, I have to get back in contact with my acting coach and my dialect coach and start trying to put all those elements together. I want to get out to the cotton fields. I want to start cutting down trees. I want to start hacking sugar cane. How do you do that?" Over the course of one evening and into the afternoon of the next day, that’s what I was looking for when I was re-reading everything.

Then I started to build my own sense of confidence. You’re like, "No, hang on, reduce the voice, put it aside and get on with it and get involved." I suppose at that point when I spoke to Steve again the following day, there was something about it that was absolutely 100% from that moment, which is a commitment to it and a drive for it. But it was an interesting moment of pause to reflect on, if ever that comes up again -- I think maybe you do need to do that as an actor and a performer. I think you do need to not just take it for granted that you’re always going to think, “Yeah, I’m in.” Sometimes your own sense of self is not quite where you thought it was.

I assume that it also depends on the material. I can't imagine you'd think this hard about starring in a romcom.

Well, exactly. There's a difference. It definitely required a moment for me, and I’m very glad that I took it. But looking back at it from this end, it would’ve been weird not to take it. I think this is a project that demanded that.

by Eric Kohn
September 12, 2013 9:40 AM

'12 Years a Slave' Star Chiwetel Ejiofor Explains Why He Was Worried About Whether He Could Pull Off the Role

It sounds like you really took a method-like approach to the role, experiencing the actual work that slaves had to go through on plantations.

It turns out there’s a difference between all these things: What you think of slavery is one kind of homogenous idea, but there's a difference between cutting down trees and cutting down sugar cane and picking cotton. A massive difference. Cutting down trees has a catharsis to it, a physical labor to it. It's a way you can deal with your aggression in your life. Whatever is happening, you've got hours and hours of cutting down these trees and hacking through these things. That’s why, you know, Solomon creates these rafts and gets the gang to come in and start building something and you're moving down the river and there's activity there. It's the same with sugar cane: It's brutal collecting sugar cane, but you are fighting something.You might be fighting yourself. I’m sure a lot of the guys who experienced this were fighting something in them.

So you did it on your own before doing it on camera?

We went out to the timber places. I didn't get to do the raft-making stuff beforehand, that was all done when we were there, but we went out to the cotton fields. Now, picking cotton is a completely different thing; picking cotton has no catharsis, no release, it's blindingly hot. It was 108 degrees on the first day of shooting, with huge humidity. And these prickly leaves. You're just trying to get this thing out of the thing and it's maddening. So suddenly you're realizing the actual plantation, of course, is a different world. It's a different daily routine. The only thing that happens that interrupts the flow is the crack of the whip and people passing out. There's something surreal about it, and that informs the rest of what is happening on that plantation. Understanding that, the details of it, was something that I couldn't have comprehended from reading the script or even my knowledge of what happened in slavery. It's just being there, being in Louisiana, and understanding the psychologies: This is what is informing it, this is part of what is informing everybody's psychology.

That seems to get at the essence of why people are so affected by the film: It allows viewers to experience slavery in a visceral fashion. But there’s clearly not enough documentary evidence to really understand the full range of experiences this man went through. Did you have to read other texts or other history books to prepare?

The first point of reference for me was to go to the plantations, not just the ones we were shooting at but the other ones as well, finding out the histories of the ones all around that area and trying to figure out what was the overall sense of the place, what was going on. But then, Solomon's book for that period is full of what was happening. Yes, we lose track of Solomon later on [in his life], but the period that we're discussing in the book, it's right there, uncovering the whole of the society, and sort of picks it apart. But there’s no substitute for getting down there. I was in one museum which talked about the slaver halls that were happening there, where they dedicate part of the plantation to this one slaver hall, which could have been massive.

They were trying to get to the munitions dump that was in New Orleans. When they got there they had about three to four hundred people to get the weapons, but the weapons had been moved, but not because of them. It was just that the information was a day out and they had been moved to somewhere else. If they had been able to get those weapons, they would’ve been able to pose a serious threat to the militias. So the slaves were rounded up, beheaded, and their heads were put on posts outside the slave huts. Finding out the context of what was happening was fascinating to me. And the specifics and the details of how people were responding to it: On that plantation the day of the beginning of that revolt, they just grabbed the son of the plantation owner and stabbed him and they nailed him to the door of the plantation and let him bleed out. That's how it began. So understanding all that and fitting that kind of perspective into the narrative of Solomon Northup is when there's a richness of that world -- the details of that world and how it is so much like slipping down the rabbit hole into this surreal universe.

There are implications that your character sees a lot more than we witness over the course of the movie, give the span of time it covers.

Oh, of course, I mean, trying to condense that book into the space of a film is a great challenge. They did an amazing job because it's still essentially obtained the same quality, but it's obviously much reduced. I think the book should be taught in every school in the country, in the world. It’s a book that talks to what human respect essentially is and then the wider issues of human dignity. That is the starting point thematically.

People come out of the film in very emotional states. On the set, was that kind of emotion amplified or could you pull yourself away from that between takes, go home and sleep at night?

I think going home was better. Because otherwise you’d give it 100%, that was the calling, you want to try to give it 100% on the day so when the day wraps then you want to go out with everybody, you know, you want hang, chill, get dinner, couple of drinks somewhere, you know, talk.

Freedom.

Exactly. You'll head into New Orleans a little bit. So then the following morning, bang, we’re back in. Now, between takes, that's harder to accomplish anything like that. You are held in this kind of suspended place and you’re deeply involved in what is happening, what you're witnessing, what you're thinking, your character. You’re thinking about him in the context of the other things that have happened, and there's nowhere to go.

Why do you think there haven't been that many movies about slavery, much less good ones?

I don’t know the answer to that question, that's the simple response, but I feel like it's something that should have been looked at. Part of the issue that we face is because these things haven't been looked at, you can’t really figure them out going forward unless you are prepared to evaluate and understand the past. We take it for granted sometimes that certain parts of our history are told and we take it for granted that we know all that stuff and we move forward along on that basis, but there are also massive gaps and we have to try to address them.

You mentioned there was this global dimension to the appeal of the text. Already, people have mentioned the fact that both you and Steve are British. What do you make of this perception that it took two Brits to make a seminal film about American slavery? Should that be part of the discussion?

Nothing is off the table in terms of what people want to discuss. I would say a couple things about that. I think that the first thing is that Americans made this film, Americans produced this film, Americans worked 90% of the crew, 90% of the cast. The idea that because there are a few British people -- in key positions, don't get me wrong -- that it's a British thing or whatever, is not true.

The fact that there was an international component to this film is a great advantage to it because there was an international component to the slave trade. The slave trade existed in so many regions of the world, all through South America, in America, in the West Indies, Britain was involved in it, I’m an Igbo -- my family is Igbo from the South East of Nigeria, where hundreds and thousands of Igbo were taken from the South East and they were moved to Louisiana, so this is an international film. All of the diaspora is completely involved in the story. I think that it is a good thing in this film that there are different origins. You know, Steve McQueen is from the West Indies. It was basically a land war in the West Indies. There was slavery for sugar. You look at the Haitian revolution and obviously the story is about human respect, that again is an international issue. You can look at a very specific thing -- it was very specifically an American story, but it has global elements.

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Post by Admin on Fri Sep 13, 2013 4:30 pm

http://m.boiseweekly.com/boise/blogs/Post?basename=tiff-2013-12-years-a-slave-is-epic-filmmaking&day=11&id=Cobweb&month=09&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=dlvr.it&year=2013

TIFF 2013: 12 Years a Slave is Epic Filmmaking
Posted by George Prentice on Wed, Sep 11, 2013 at 12:30 PM

12 Years a Slave is not just the best film of 2013; it's an American classic. You'll talk about it for hours. You'll think about it for years.

I've already watched this modern epic on two occasions at the Toronto International Film Festival, and in each instance it was greeted with deserved ovations and tears. But when the emotions subside and all of the awards are handed out (and there will be a boat-load for this film) 12 Years as a Slave will long be remembered as a quintessential story about American slavery, a subject that more than a few foreign-born directors believe has been given insufficient consideration from their American counterparts.

"Our director Steve McQueen asked the question: 'Why are there not more American movies about slavery?' It's a good question," said Brad Pitt in a post-screening press conference which included Boise Weekly. Pitt not only co-stars in the film, but is one of the producers. "I'm very excited for people to see this movie. It's a rare film that only comes around once or so every decade."

This is the British-born McQueen's third feature-length film, but when you think of his first two—2008's Hunger and 2011's Shame, two films that I'm a huge fan of—it really is no surprise that McQueen is now the hottest director in his industry. And after he picks up next year's Oscar for Best Director and is praised over and over again from the stage as his cast and crew pick up their own Oscars, people everywhere will be asking, "Who is this Steve McQueen?" The short answer is: He's the best in the business.

12 Years a Slave is much more powerful than the 1970s sanitized television miniseries Roots and far superior to last year's Lincoln, which came across as a heavy-handed lecture when it wasn't a showcase for overacting. Instead, 12 Years a Slave uses the power of film at its utmost to best tell the story of Solomon Northup, a free black man sold into slavery. I cannot sing praises loud enough for Chiwetel Ejiofor who plays Northup. His performance is never showy or overstated. To the contrary, his fully-realized Northup is an extraordinary man who survived the darkest shadow of our nation's history.

I must also single out the performance of Michael Fassbender as Edwin Epps, a half-mad plantation owner who becomes Northup's greatest foil. Fassbender is a shoe-in for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar.

"A great script and direction," said Fassbender after the film. "Good storytelling is..." he paused for moment, "you know, good storytelling is like music."

Indeed, 12 Years a Slave is of operatic proportions.

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Post by Admin on Fri Sep 13, 2013 4:52 pm

http://www.backstage.com/interview/toronto-film-festival-lupita-nyongo-12-years-slave/

Toronto Film Festival: Lupita Nyong’o on ‘12 Years a Slave’

By Jenelle Riley | Posted Sept. 11, 2013, 3 p.m.

For her first film role, Lupita Nyong’o found herself starring alongside the likes of Brad Pitt, Chewitel Ejifor, and Michael Fassbender in Steve McQueen’s epic “12 Years a Slave.” Not only does Nyong’o hold her own against the heavyweights, she shines in the role of Patsey, a slave who attracts the unwanted obsession of her owner (Fassbender). Though Nyong’o is no stranger to movie sets—she was a production assistant on “The Constant Gardner”—stepping in front of the camera was new for the actor, who had just graduated from the Yale School of Drama when she landed the role for which she's already earning Oscar buzz.

How did you land the role of Patsey?
I was just about to graduate from the Yale School of Drama and was about to do our school’s showcase, which is when you can start auditioning for other things. My manager had another client in the film, Garret Dillahunt, and she suggested I put myself on tape for it. Which was the first time I’d ever done that. It just so happened I was going to be in L.A. the next week, so the casting director asked to see me and I auditioned for Francine Maisler. After that, I was invited to Louisiana to audition for Steve.

Were you familiar with Steve’s work?
I’d heard of him, but I hadn’t yet seen his work. After my first audition, I took the time and watched his work and was so blown away. I fell in love with his aesthetic, his vision, his voice. It finally dawned on me what kind of project I would be involved with. I’m actually glad I didn’t know before I met him. I was able to focus on the work. But after that, I truly I knew I was in the right hands and I wanted to do it even more.

But I’ve heard you say you never thought you would actually get the part.
That’s true. Even when I found out who was behind it, I was like, OK, this is just a chance for me to work on some lofty material and give it my all. But I’m not going to get it. Even as we went along and I got the callback, as badly as I wanted it, I thought it was so far out of reach. Which was kind of a relief. I had nothing to lose. When I got it, I was certain I was going to get a call saying they made a mistake. Thankfully, that call never came.

What was the most difficult part of making the film?
You know, the whole thing was all so hard, but it was so wonderful. It might have been managing my “Imposter Syndrome.” That feeling that we get so often that we are imposters and they’re going to find out shortly. Especially when you’re working with such veterans and artists as I was. Everything was so new and I worried about whether I would be able to do this character justice.

What were your impressions of Patsey when you read the book?
Patsey is described i the autobiography as having an "air of loftiness in her movement, that neither labor, nor weariness, nor punishment could destroy." I wanted to do her justice. It would never feel comfortable going to that place to play her, and I needed to be comfortable in my discomfort. Everything she went through is so painful that I had to move from sympathy to empathy for her. When I first read the script, I was in tears I felt so sorry for her. And that’s no way to play a character, from a place of pity. So I had to move to a place where I could advocate for her. She’s didn’t have the luxury of sentimentalizing her abuse. Abuse was the norm for her.

You have to share some remarkably intense scenes with Michael Fassbender. What was that experience like?
Michael is such an electrifying actor, you never know what he’s going to do next. So he forces you to be in the moment. Which is such a treasure. He’s such a nice person and we had a lot of fun making this film. I think we understood we were making history, doing something vital. So going on set was always joyful, despite how painful the things we had to do were. Michael and I would make nice before and after a scene. I called it that, “make nice.” Not necessarily say anything to each other, but just share a look or a moment to let each other know we were OK. I felt so safe his scene partner.

What’s up next for you? Surely this film is opening all kinds of doors for you?
Hopefully they’re just opening. I did a film a few months after “12 Years” with Liam Neeson called “Non-Stop” that comes out in February. Other than that, my plate is open and I’m looking for work!

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Post by Admin on Fri Sep 13, 2013 4:53 pm

http://www.vulture.com/2013/09/sarah-paulson-12-years-a-slave-interview.html


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Sarah Paulson on 12 Years a Slave, Playing a Master’s Evil Wife, and Why She Almost Lost the Role

By Jada Yuan

If you watched Sarah Paulson in American Horror Story: Asylum, as a lesbian journalist unfairly locked away and subjected to electroshock therapy, and realized you’ve long been underestimating her, just wait till you see her in Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, which premiered last week to a rapturous response at the Toronto Film Festival. The wrenching, violent film is based on the autobiography of Solomon Northup, a freeman from the North kidnapped into slavery, and Paulson plays Mistress Mary Epps, the wife of Michael Fassbender’s sadistic cotton plantation owner, Master Edwin Epps, who eventually comes to own Solomon (Chiwetel Ejiofor, in a career-making performance). She presides over the house in a hoop skirt and corset so tight it seems to have squeezed out her humanity, and goes to desperately cruel measures of intimidation and violence to cling to her position in the face of her husband’s undisguised affections for beautiful young slave Patsey (played by luminous newcomer Lupita Nyong’o). Jada Yuan spoke to Paulson.

You seem so nice. Where did you go to get that mean?
[Laughs.] The only way I could do it was to think about [Mistress Epps's] motivations, because I don’t believe that anybody does anything just to be a mustache twirling evil-doer. There’s a little bit of a black heart in all of us. You’re capable of doing things you could’ve never imagined in certain circumstances. And I’m not saying this in defense of my character’s actions, because I do think they are deplorable. But from an acting standpoint, I had to find a way to make it something I could understand so that it wasn’t just some sort of generic, evil housewife. And to me, I was able to get into the head space by thinking about her fear and her terrible embarrassment at being disrespected and usurped by this woman. I mean, Epps is in love with Patsey, and she knows it.

If he’s capable of knowing what love is. He beats Patsey.
Something that Michael [Fassbender]’s been talking about is that he loves her desperately, and the reason he beats her is because he doesn’t know what to do with his own feelings. The thing I do think about Mistress Epps is that she is not — it’s not that she’s not bright, but she’s not very deep, she’s not very complicated. If you’re self-aware and you think, I’m feeling threatened, I’m feeling jealous, I don’t know what to do with myself, you don’t go hauling off and throwing glass decanters at people’s faces. But if a woman doesn’t have any other recourse in her mind because she’s not capable of thinking about something in a complicated way — I’m not saying she’s dumb, I’m just saying she’s not emotionally or psychologically smart, or developed in that way. She’s threatened and, like an animal, just wants to protect and win.

And she had no other options. Where would she go?
This is where she can exert her power, because [her husband] does listen to her, and he is weak, and she knows it. And he does hear her, that’s why there’s that great shot where Michael has the whip in that very harrowing scene with Lupita [Nyong’o] on the pole, and he starts whipping her, and off-camera you hear my voice say, "Do it." Mistress Epps is relentless.

Did you figure out Mistress Epps's backstory, or was that in the book?
No, her backstory’s not in the book because it’s from Solomon [Northup]’s account, so I don’t think he did a lot of research about who Mistress Epps was and why she was so horrifying. But Michael and Steve [McQueen] and I did collectively decide some things, some of which may not be accurate by a long stretch, but we decided that I had the money, but when we married [Master Epps] became the proprietor. We were like, "We don’t even know if this is historically accurate" [laughs], but he then became the deed holder, the title holder for the property, the land, and everything. We just created a story that was helpful for us. And I decided that I had a terribly, terribly cruel father and that his way of showing love and affection was through terrible violence, so that she doesn’t know any other way to show her love for him by defending their marriage in such a horrifying way, publicly. She’s a terrified woman, is what she is.

What were the shooting conditions like for you?
It was hot as hell. I’m in New Orleans right now doing the third season of American Horror Story, and it was about 20 percent cooler this July than it was last June when we were doing 12 Years a Slave. It was so insanely hot. And we had portable fans, but the problem with me is that [I couldn’t be sweaty]. Michael could be sweaty, everybody could be sweaty, but Mistress Epps, Steve really wanted it to be like she barely moves a muscle, like she has someone carry her from room to room. She doesn’t exert herself. So the me-sweating thing, nobody wanted her to be sweaty because she probably didn’t do a lot of sweating.

Did you have people personally fanning you?
I did get fanned a little bit. I would have my own fan and we had an electric fan and I would stay out of the sun as much as possible. Also, I was corseted and wearing all ... it just was effing hot! Crazy.

How did you and Michael build your relationship?
Well, I got to New Orleans a few days before we started shooting, and I went and met Chiwetel [Ejiofor] and Steve, and we had lunch and I went back to Michael’s apartment — he called it his flat — and we went back there and rehearsed for a couple hours, and then Michael and I went on the roof of his place and sort of just talked about our characters’ backstory and made things up that we thought would be helpful or useful. We did a lot of that. It was great.

What were Steve’s directions to you on set?
He gave me an incredible image. He said to me [lovingly mimics McQueen's British accent], "I want it to be like a figurine on top of a cake, like a figure on a cake," and I was just like, "I know exactly what you mean." You know, those dolls you stick on top of a cake, like a dress that’s out, neck up, chin up. You could throw that thing — they don’t break, they don’t move, just a hardness. There was a stillness, and I tried to do that in the movie, which I think I did do.

How did you get into the movie?
I got into the movie by auditioning.

You wanted it.
I wanted it badly because I wanted to work with Steve because I loved Hunger and I loved Shame, and I think Michael is an extraordinary actor. And I wanted it badly. And a lot of very famous actresses were coming after the part, but the great thing about Steve McQueen: He’s not interested in that. He’s interested in who he feels is the most right for the part. He doesn’t care if you’re the most famous actor in the world, and that is a very rare thing in this business, and it’s the only reason why I’m in the movie, because he was about to offer it to another actress — he would never tell me who it was — he’s about to offer it to another actress, and I made a tape in New York at the very last minute with a casting director who wasn’t even assigned to the project, who just did a favor for me, and I sent it, and the next day I got a call saying, "He’s very intrigued by you. He’s about to make an offer to another actress, and he’s not going to."

We waited until the end of the day and got more information that he wanted me, and we had to work it out with American Horror Story. I couldn’t guarantee American Horror Story that I was going to be done in time and American Horror Story was like, "We already own her," so there was this whole thing and I almost didn’t get to do the movie. And then Ryan Murphy asked 20th Century Fox if we could start a week later, shooting the show, which helped me finish the movie. [She tears up.] And he did that for me. You know, this is a business where fame is currency, it’s money, it’s in the bank, it’s job security, and when you don’t have it, or you have a little bit of it ... Steve just doesn’t give a s$#! about that. And it means a lot more actresses are going to have opportunities that they never would have had because of the kind of filmmaker he is and that he’s interested in rightness for the part, and not, "I’m just going to stick so-and-so in there because she’s famous and we’re going to get more market money."

Or else you get, like, Brad Pitt to be in it and produce it and the fame part is taken care of.
It’s just, he’s really not interested in that and I’ll be forever grateful to him because I’m a part of what I think is one of the great movies of our time ... and the little actress in me who wanted to be an actress since I was 5 years old thinks this is the damn coolest thing that’s ever happened to me.

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Post by Admin on Sat Sep 21, 2013 1:20 pm

http://www.slantmagazine.com/features/article/interview-chiwetel-ejiofor

Chiwetel Ejiofor in Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave. [Photo: Fox Searchlight Pictures]
Interview: Chiwetel Ejiofor
By Anna Tatarska ON September 14, 2013 Go to Comments (0)

This year's Toronto International Film Festival welcomed many actors with more than one film to promote. Chiwetel Ejiofor, who, thanks to his commanding performances in Biyi Bandele's Half of a Yellow Sun and Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave, attracted more attention, among audiences and critics alike, than Benedict Cumberbatch, Jesse Eisenberg, and Colin Firth combined. In Bandele's adaptation of Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's novel, set in Nigeria during the Biafra War, the actor appears as a politically motivated professor who flees his home with his family as tensions intensify between the Hausa and Igbo people. And in McQueen's hotly anticipated drama, he stars as the real-life Solomon Northup, an African-American freeman who was kidnapped and spent 12 years in slavery. Ejiofor, born in Britain and of Nigerian descent, mostly works in the States, and he brings his profound sense of worldliness to these two parts. I met with him in Toronto to talk about how he transitions between roles, the allure of Los Angeles, and how it feels to be the center of so much Oscar buzz.

Do you remember the moment when you thought to yourself, "It's decided. I'm going to be an actor"?

I did my first play when I was maybe 15. I didn't make a decision to become an actor. Actually, I still haven't officially. I just keep on doing it and then people ended up calling me that. The point was when somebody offered to pay me for it! [Laughs] I thought, "Okay, so I can do something that I love and get paid for it. I guess that makes me a professional." My father was a doctor, but also a musician, so we had that creative element in the family. If I'm connected to the work and experience I find it a very rewarding and enriching way to spend my life.

Was it difficult for a Londoner like yourself to adjust to the Los Angeles lifestyle?

I [still] live both in London and L.A. Because I did Amistad when I was 19, I've already been [in Hollywood] for quite a long time. And I have people [around me] that I've known for a very long time there. It always seemed to me like Hollywood is a sort of alter-ego of Los Angeles. L.A. in itself is actually this beautiful place where there's lots of places to hike, surf, swim. I like getting out there. I like swimming, love sailing, so I really enjoy the outdoorsy nature of L.A. I also like the people. Californians have this chilled-out vibe. It's a very interesting place to be.

What drew you to Half of a Yellow Sun?

I've known Biyi Bandele [the film's director] for many years. We've talked about a possibility of going back to Nigeria and making a film for a long time. Then this beautiful book came out, so it was a perfect mixture of events. It was a deeply personal experience. Because not only are my parents Nigerian, but also Igbo [an ethnic group from southeastern Nigeria] and from the exact region then that all the events of the film take place. I feel [African], but also distinctly Igbo. The south is a very specific place in Nigeria. I love being there. So the events [civil war-related] in the film happened to my own family. This part of our history is very defining. The Biafran War was the first one covered by media, and the first images of the starving children later associated with Africa now were taken then. It was the first time people saw Africa in terms of a humanitarian crisis. This war was also the reason why my family left and went first to Paris and then to London. This is the reason why now I speak like this.

You were born in London. Have you been to Nigeria before?

Many times. I used to spend my summers there when I was a kid. As an adult, every couple of years. I recorded interviews with my grandfather, 10-hour long conversations, before he died. I've always had a long and fruitful relationship [with Nigeria].

What was the time span in between this film and 12 Years a Slave?

I shot Half of a Yellow Sun immediately before 12 Years a Slave. In fact, I flew from Calabar to Louisiana. I was excited about doing both films. It was an interesting transition: The last place I visited in Calabar was the slave museum. Hundreds of thousands of Igbo, every decade for about 200 years, were taken out of this region and transported to America, a lot of them ending specifically in Louisiana. So in a strange way, even though obviously I flew there, I was following the route of those people...and then telling this other story of slavery. It felt very connected.

You've already portrayed a slave in Amistad. How was the experience different this time?

It was completely different. Amistad was a court case. This is talking to and about the specifics of [Solomon Northup's] life. When I was making 12 Years a Slave, I didn't reach back to that experience. It didn't feel connected.

Watching a story like this one, one keeps wondering how humans can be so savage.

We carry on doing that, just in different ways and in different places. We use violence as a way of making money, sadly. That's what we do and have been doing for a very long time. If that's the premise of any given society then you're going to have situations like that. Wars, slavery of some form or another.

How do you feel about the Oscar talk surrounding the film?

I think it's great when people respond to the film in a positive way. But I'd say I'm always a bit suspicious of words like "buzz" or "hype." The film, and Northup's story, deserve sort of a little reflection. I'm worried of all those things being put onto the film before it's even out, before anybody's had a chance to sort of breathe with it a little bit. Northup's autobiography is one of the most devastating, inspiring, beautiful, and haunting things that I've ever read or been involved in. I'm glad that people are excited, but they should watch it with their own eyes, without any expectations. Just see his story, the story we're trying to tell.

12 Years a Slave has been tipped as the Schindler's List of black experience. How do you feel about such comparisons?

You could look at it as a specific history lesson if you like, because it speaks to that as well. It's a very detailed, brilliant, firsthand account of what was happening at that time. And it's Northup's gift to the modern day, that we can have a day-in-day-out access to what occurred in that period of time. I feel it should be in every school in the world; it's an extraordinary piece of literature. But also it speaks to human respect. And I feel like this is what people take away from it, a story about human respect, and that's a great thing for young people or anybody to reflect on.

You said Half of a Yellow Sun and 12 Years a Slave were shot one right after another, but you look very different in them.

I always find that if you put your mind in a different place, you end up sort of physically changing. I probably weighed exactly the same in both of the movies, but the characters' attitude, worldview, the way they hold themselves was so different, that when watching those two films one might think my weight has changed. But it's just because I'm carrying myself differently. I always find that the way into a character is physical—that you're body changes as your outlook changes in terms of the character.

How was working with Sean Bobbit, Steve McQueen's cinematographer?

Sean is extraordinary in his detail and what he's able to capture and the beautiful way he works and shoots with the light is purely amazing. And actually the two of them, Steve and Sean are this amazing combination in the first place.

Steve McQueen claims, "There are actors and there are artists." Which one are you?

I don't necessarily think of myself in those terms. I suppose I like his idea [laughs]. Obviously, what we're involved in is an art form, and for me it's always been a very fascinating one, because it's about self-expression and using yourself as a conduit to express other things. Your body, your mind, your voice, what you're giving. I've always thought it was very interesting, ever since I started acting.

Happy actor, happy man?

I don't know if these two are connected. I think they are separate, maybe. You can be happy in your acting life and miserable at home, or happy in both places, or miserable in both. I am happy in both, luckily.

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Post by Admin on Sat Sep 28, 2013 8:46 pm

http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/news/michael-k-williams-goes-down-the-rabbit-hole-on-boardwalk-empire-20130927#ixzz2g8H6plTz


Michael K. Williams 'Goes Down the Rabbit Hole' on 'Boardwalk Empire'
'Wire' actor also starring in '12 Years a Slave,' MGMT video

Macall B. Polay/HBO
By Katie Van Syckle
September 27, 2013 2:40 PM ET

Michael K. Williams won us over with The Wire, playing the indefatigable stick-em-up-boy Omar, the Robin Hood of the streets. On Boardwalk Empire, now in its fourth season, he's Chalky White, the voice and bootlegger of the black community in the Nucky Thompson's (Steve Buscemi) Atlantic City. Rolling Stone spoke with Williams about going down the rabbit hole with Chalky this season, appearing in MGMT's latest video for "Cool Song No. 2" as a witch doctor with a sweet ride and stalking Steve McQueen in New Orleans to get a part in 12 Years a Slave.

13 Shows to Watch This Fall

This feels like a big season for Chalky White on Boardwalk. It sort of feels like a big season for African-Americans in general on the show.
It's definitely a huge season for Chalky White. It's a huge season for me personally. I've never been this involved in a big storyline in anything that I've done.

You say you're more involved with the season. How so?
There are things that were promised to Chalky from Nucky Thompson that came through. Nucky told him that he would grant him his wish and give him his club on the boardwalk, so that happened. So you have a black man in 1924 with a major club on the boardwalk of Atlantic City – that's huge. And most of the storyline this year takes place from that club. All of the problems that occur happen from that club opening up and how Chalky deals with it. He makes a lot of bad choices, primarily over a woman. And we just pretty much watch him go down the rabbit hole.

How do you understand the struggle between Chalky White and Valentin Narcisse?
The relationship between Dr. Narcisse and Chalky is a very intense, very real relationship in the black community. You have the educated, fair-skinned Negro, you know, going up against the dark-skinned, un-academically educated Negro, and the friction of the light skin and dark skin, educated versus the non-educated. There's a friction there, you know, on many different levels. The house Negro versus the field Negro.

What was really important to you in creating this character?
The main thing I wanted to do was I wanted him not to feel like Omar. That was number one. The second thing I wanted to do was to not make him appear as just an angry black man. There are things that Chalky experienced that I have no understanding of. I don't know what it's like to see my father hang from a tree, or to be illiterate in America. I don't know what that feels like. So I wanted to bring dignity to him, in spite of all his flaws, and I wanted people to understand why he does the things that he does. And last but not least, I wanted to pay homage to my ancestors, to anybody who's alive today, any black men that are alive today.

I was just watching your MGMT video, "Cool Song No. 2." What sort of direction did you get for that?
The character I play, his best friend, is dying from the very thing that he sells. So it's a take on addiction. What they used was this plant, and apparently there's somewhere – I believe in the Philippines – where people get this rare disorder where their skin turns into tree bark and ultimately takes over their body. The character I play in this video was the cultivator of a particular tree that was killing one of his best friends. When he realized there was nothing else to do, he figured that he would let his friend die with dignity, and he took him to that house where they manufactured the stuff and just let him live out the rest of his days in happiness and bliss. And in doing so, he contracted the disease also. So it’s like a take on addiction and things of that nature.

Did you know the band’s music going into it?
I'm a huge fan of MGMT, and I love this director, Isaiah Seret. I'd never met him before, but I love the work he did on a Raphael Saadiq video called "Good Man," which starred Chad Coleman, who is one of my Wire brothers.

You hang out with your other Wire brothers?
Absolutely. We're very close. I consider us a family. Everybody from Sonja Sohn to Felicia Pearson to Jamie Hector to Andre Royo . . . Wendell Pierce, Domenick Lombardozzi, you know, we’re a very close-knit family.

You’re also in 12 Years a Slave. What was that set like?
That was another huge experience for me. Something along the lines of what it felt like for Boardwalk. That's another period piece dealing with my ancestral energy, once again, during the time when I have no idea what it must've been like to live in America, to be alive in that time. So it was a huge time-travel, and I got to really get a glimpse of what my ancestors would've gone through so that I could be here today. It was very humbling.

Did you know Steve McQueen before you made the film?
I knew of him. I was a huge fan of his work from Hunger and Shame, but I had never met prior to this film.

Did you audition for it in the traditional way?
It wasn’t quite the traditional path. I guess you could say I stalked him a bit? I waited outside of his casting office in New Orleans in the pouring rain for, like, an hour, because I heard he was in town, and I ran up on him, kind of Omar style, and I think he was a little taken aback. I was afraid I'd actually screwed up my chance of being in the project with that stuff that I pulled. But then about 45 minutes or so later, his assistant gave me a call and said "Steve McQueen wants to take you to dinner," and I sat down with him and Michael Fassbender and Lupita Nyong'o. We sat all down and had dinner, and he pretty much made me the offer right there at the dinner table.

What made you really want the part?
Any opportunity to tell a story like that – any opportunity to tell African-American history, something of that nature, of that caliber, I will jump through leaps and bounds to get. Because it's based on a true story, it's American history, it's about my culture and my ancestors, and it's not just a typical film. It's a story that I can get in my heart as something to take seriously. I think 12 Years a Slave is that caliber. Any actor would’ve been proud to be in Schindler’s List, and I feel the same way about our film. This actually happened, and it's going to teach people how far we've come as a nation.

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Re: TYaS actors

Post by Admin on Sun Sep 29, 2013 6:02 pm

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/envelope/cotown/la-et-ct-working-hollywood-dialect-coach-michael-buster-20130929,0,1603451.story

'12 Years a Slave' dialect coach Michael Buster speaks up
Working Hollywood: Dialect coach Michael Buster has a developed a number of tricks to train actors in regional speech and accents.

By Cristy Lytal

September 28, 2013, 9:00 a.m.

"So much of who people are is expressed in their speech," dialect coach Michael Buster said. The master of many accents lent a Southern inflection to two upcoming movies: Fox Searchlight's "12 Years a Slave" and Cinemax's "Quarry."

Raised in Minnesota, Wisconsin and upstate New York with relatives from Illinois and eastern Kentucky, Buster, 56, grew up hearing what he describes as "that real hillbilly Southern sound and then the Northern sound."

He got involved in drama in high school and studied to be an actor at the Juilliard School and at the Professional Theater Training Program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

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Ear training and speech work were essential parts of his classical theater education, and he studied with dialect legends Edith Skinner and Tim Monich.

Buster acted in regional theaters, earned an MFA and eventually joined the faculty at Boston University, where he taught voice and speech to master's degree students in the theater education program. He also taught at Atlantic Theater Company, founded by David Mamet and William H. Macy, and at the University of Texas at Austin.

It was during his time in Texas that Monich recommended Buster as a dialect coach for Ethan Hawke and Vincent D'Onofrio for 1998's "The Newton Boys."

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Not long after, Buster moved to Los Angeles and started steady work as a dialect coach, working on such films as 2002's "Minority Report," 2005's "Red Eye" and 2009's "Star Trek."

Free samples: If the shooting location is the same as the script's setting, Buster interviews locals to get dialect samples. If not, he Googles it. "Now with the Internet, it's a gold mine," he said. "There are interviews, historical characters, regional churches that put their sermons online, town hall meetings. And then I do an analysis of what the sound changes are and teach it to the actor."

Alphabet soup: Each dialect has its signature sounds. "One of the first things you want to find out is: What's going on with the Rs?" Buster said. "Are they dropping their Rs? Are they rolling their Rs? Is it a real hard R in the root of their tongue, like in west Texas? Or is it just a really light R?" The letter L is also telling. "Americans have what I call a 'lazy L,'" he said. "So in some parts of the South, the L gets dropped. You see people saying 'footba'. I couldn't he'p it.' Irish has a really clear L, really forward. And the Slavic L is really thick."

Southern comfort: As the story of a free black man kidnapped and sold into slavery in the pre-Civil War United States, "12 Years a Slave" called for a variety of Southern accents. "We don't know what slaves sounded like in the 1840s, so I just used rural samples from Mississippi and Louisiana" for actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, Buster said. "And the same thing for [Michael] Fassbender — rural Louisiana. And then for Benedict [Cumberbatch], I found some real upper-class New Orleanians from the '30s. And then I also worked with Lupita Nyong'o, who's Kenyan but she did her training at Yale. So she really shifted her speech so she could do American speech."

Long-distance relationships: Buster prepped the "Quarry" cast over Skype. "There was one actress in England, and then Stellan Skarsgård was in Sweden," he said. "They were doing Memphis area [accents] — except Stellan's character was not from Memphis, so we were working on a neutral American for him, being as he's Swedish. I would work with Stellan every day before he went to shoot — over Skype."

Spare me the details: Buster can adapt the dialect to the abilities of the actor. "When they're really good, you can give them so many details, and they just snatch it up and incorporate it," he said. "When the actor doesn't quite have the ability, you just don't give them all those details." Instead, Buster will select a few key sound changes to convey the general feel. "That will give it the flavor of the dialect, so it'll still be in the ballpark," he said.

The enemy of the good: At times, the best take isn't the one with the best dialect work. In these cases, the editors can either fix it in post-production or schedule an additional dialogue recording session with the actor. But it doesn't always have to be perfect. As Buster explained, "Sometimes you make the decision: 'The acting and everything was so fine in production. Let's leave it alone.' And the thing is, if the audience is listening to the dialect, we've failed. We want it to be seamless. We want them to be involved in the story."

calendar@latimes.com

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Re: TYaS actors

Post by Admin on Thu Oct 03, 2013 6:32 pm

http://www.vulture.com/2013/10/lupita-nyongo-on-12-years-a-slave.html


Yesterday at 9:30 AM
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Lupita Nyong’o on 12 Years a Slave, Getting Into Character, and ‘Impostor’s Syndrome’

By Jada Yuan

Before September’s Toronto Film Festival, almost nobody had heard of Lupita Nyong’o, the gorgeous Kenyan actress who hadn’t even graduated Yale Drama School when Steve McQueen gave her the most prominent female role in 12 Years a Slave. By the time the film screens at the New York Film Festival next week, though, everyone who cares about movies and awards season races would do well to learn her name. The film is based on the autobiography of Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a freeman kidnapped into slavery, and Nyong’o’s performance as Patsey, a young slave who’s become the object of obsession for sadistic cotton plantation Master Edwin Epps, played by Michael Fassbender, is easily one of the most arresting acting debuts in recent memory. Valued for her beauty and her astounding ability to pick 500 pounds of cotton a day — more than twice the haul of any male slave — Patsey is objectified by Epps, scorned by his wife (Sarah Paulson), subjected to horrifying cruelty by both, and often dreams of death as her release. Jada Yuan spoke to Nyong’o in Toronto about researching the role and the experience of getting whipped by Michael Fassbender. (It involves lots of hugs!)

You hadn’t even graduated from Yale Drama School before you got cast, correct?
Yeah, I actually got cast, I think, three weeks before I graduated.

It must have been crazy. You must have been so excited.
I was extremely excited and of course, extremely intimidated. I had impostor’s syndrome until the day I landed in Louisiana. I was certain that I was going to be fired. I was certain I was going to receive a call and they were going to say, “I’m sorry, we made a mistake.” Every single day. And it wasn’t until the day I was flying to Louisiana that they made the announcement on Deadline that Patsey had been cast. So the whole time I was like [whispers], “Maybe they’re reconsidering. They must be reconsidering.” Luckily, I wasn’t fired. [Laughs.] My friends can definitely attest to that.

What were the shooting conditions like?
Oh, it was the height of summer in Louisiana, so it was hot. It was extremely hot. And it was something else to be picking cotton in that kind of heat. And then I just recognized, these people were made of some strong stuff. The people who lived through slavery. I mean, they did that, picking cotton, more than sixteen hours a day, in that heat. A heat that was kind of challenging me in these kinds of plush conditions I was in. It was definitely very sobering, that experience. It was great to be there. Flanked by these oak trees that have been there for over 300 years.

The oak trees dripping with moss.
Yeah, all those trees that have witnessed slavery. It did nothing but help us go there, you know?

What sort of research were you doing? How did you get into the character of Patsey and embody her?
One of the first things I did, I went to the Blacks in Wax Museum in Baltimore. My friend had told me that it was worth it and that you could get a kind of three-dimensional experience of slavery. So I went there and — indeed, I walked into the museum and the first thing I saw was a bale of 500 pounds of cotton, and that’s what Patsey was known to pick every day. And it was taller than me and it was thicker than me. And it was way wider than me. I was just, like, met with, “Yeah, this woman was really lofty to do this kind of thing and live so fully in that moment and then at the same time want to die and be relieved of her pain.” So that was a real influence, that place. And you see they have extracts from different diaries. These men on the ships and everything, they kept diaries of their experience, so they’re talking about how they killed the slaves and put the heads on stakes, and you see in the Middle Passage how everyone was chained together and people would die and everything would fester and all the disease and sickness. So the people who made it to the New World were made of really strong stuff. So that gave me an overview of slavery and other aspects of African-American history that we don’t really hear about. Like the fact that one of the first people on the North Pole was a black man. There were lots of Africans that got here that weren’t slaves, explorers and stuff. And we never hear about them. I read other accounts of slavery from the female perspective, as well. And the rest is about finding the physicality, the voice, and that kind of thing to make her real.

How physical did you have to get, say, in the whipping scenes at the hands of Master Epps, played by Michael Fassbender? [Editor's note: This is a movie about slavery, yes, there is whipping, and, no, that’s not a spoiler.] I’m assuming you weren’t actually touched, but your reactions were so spot-on —
It’s all about the crack of the whip. You hear it. And you feel it. I felt the wind of it every single time. I didn’t need much more. That was one technical thing, and definitely it took some finessing because obviously I can’t see what’s happening. I can’t see the whip. I can only react to the sound and the wind of it, yeah? So it was hard, but that day was as real as it could have possibly been for me, because in preparing for it, all I could do was be present. That was a quality of Patsey that Steve captured in the script. He said that she was “effortlessly sensual,” and I found this quote from James Baldwin, who described sensuality as being — he said, “To be sensual, I think, is to rejoice in the force of life itself and to be present in everything one does from the effort of loving to the breaking of bread.” And so Patsey was present, and that’s what made her so sensual.

And made her threatening to Master Epps’s wife, played by Sarah Paulson.
And threatened his wife, of course. Obviously it’s what intrigued and attracted Master Epps. And she had to be present because he was so volatile. I mean, Patsey was raised on that plantation. She was born on another plantation, but she was brought there as a little girl and she was in the house to begin.

Is that backstory in the movie?
No, it’s in the book, in [Solomon Northup’s] autobiography. She was in the house and a favorite of the mistress, until she grew old enough and Master Epps started to take a liking to her and then the mistress had her sent out into the fields. These are people she’s [lived with and is] traumatically bonded with. It’s kind of like a Stockholm Syndrome.

Patsey has a very fraught and intense relationship with Master Epps. Did you and Fassbender have to avoid each other on set so as not to be too friendly?
When I was working on this, I would spend time on my own on set just getting into the zone, listening to music. Just observe. But we had a very loving relationship and before we’d do the scenes, me and Michael would make nice. I remember before we did the scene in which he [does something really horrible … avoiding spoilers!], we went up to each other and we didn’t say anything and we just gave each other a look and maybe we hugged and then we did the scene and we hugged after that. That was important to have, those buttons of we’re going in and we’re going out.

You’re Kenyan, Steve and Chiwetel are British, Michael is Irish. Is there something important about non-Americans telling this very American story?
I think that’s something that people can assess and analyze from the outside. Really, I think it’s a coincidence, and really, it’s a question better suited to Steve. But I think America isn’t really made of many of Americans, is it? And our jobs as actors is to lend ourselves to things that are not of ourselves. I’m just so happy and privileged and honored to have been able to tell this American story.

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Re: TYaS actors

Post by Admin on Thu Oct 03, 2013 6:33 pm

http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/interview-alfre-woodard-12-years-a-slave

Interview: Alfre Woodard Talks to S&A About '12 Years a Slave,' "Slave Movie Fever," and That Much-Discussed Oprah Special
Interviews
by Jai Tiggett
September 23, 2013 10:26 AM

Alfre Woodard has a brief but powerful appearance in Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave as Mistress Shaw, a formerly enslaved woman who has risen in the Southern caste system. I had a chance to chat briefly with Woodard to get her thoughts on the film and a few insights from her decades-long acting career.

SHADOW&ACT: Tell me about playing Mistress Shaw.

ALFRE WOODARD: To be able to do Mistress Shaw, not only is it somebody we've never met before, but I knew it was going to call upon a deeper level of my skills to pull it off in one scene. This world had to be so fully realized that when we're not at the Shaw plantation, we can imagine what's going on just beyond the fences. I didn't want the train to come off the rails when we switch to the Shaw plantation and go back.

S&A: This is your first feature with Steve McQueen. Tell me about how you came onto the project.

AW: My people rang me and said, "Steve McQueen is doing a movie and he wants you to be in it."

I said, "Okay, I'm in it."

And they said, "Well no, you've got to read the script."

I said, "Steve McQueen, right?"

They said, "But it's just one scene."

I said, "I'd pull cable for Steve McQueen."

S&A: So you were already a fan.

AW: The thing that I love about him as a filmmaker is that for viewers, he assumes our intelligence. So he doesn't have people speak their inner life or subtext out loud. He's able to take maybe three pages of narrative and cinematically give you all of that information. So that's what he gives me as a viewer.

S&A: And as an actor?

AW: He always tells you something you can activate, and that's what a real actor wants. Some people sit around conceptualizing and it's like, "You know, I can't act that out. Give me something I can use."

His mind never shuts off. It's not chaotic, but images and connections are constantly occurring to him. It's a beautiful, complex, artistic mind.

S&A: With this film, Django Unchained, Lincoln, Amma Asante's Belle, and several more films in the works that deal with the situation of slavery, would you call it a trend, that Hollywood seems suddenly interested in telling these stories?

AW: Let me tell you this. Just because there's about five African-American pictures out within five months, people will also say, "Oh, it's a Renaissance." Don't worry, it'll dry right back up unfortunately. All of those pictures, all those stories that happen to be placed in a slave economy, people were trying to get them made since I got to Hollywood 39 years ago. Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, everybody's been trying to tell those stories and the stories of all the decades in between. Stories about people - not about them being black, but about people we know. So it's not that anything has changed.
Alfre Woodard in '12 Years a Slave'

S&A: Would you say it's just a consequence of Django's box office success, that we're now seeing more of these films get made?

AW: I'm sure they started going faster once one of them made some money. That's always the bottom line. And so if this one makes money they'll say, "Okay, let's keep going. Let's put more out."

But it's not because Hollywood is suddenly receptive. It's not because there are suddenly some black people that are going to do the stories, because there have always been black people trying to get all of our stories done. It's just serendipitous that it happened right now.

S&A: We hear a lot about the scarcity of roles for black actresses. The subject came up again during the OWN special with you, Phylicia Rashad, Viola Davis and Gabrielle Union. On the one hand we hear from actresses that there aren't enough roles. But from new filmmakers, we hear that there isn't enough access. Where's the disconnect in your opinion?

AW: [Filmmakers] can get to any of us very easily, so I don't buy that. But you've got to come strong with those scripts. They can't be flaky or almost there. We want smart scripts just like everybody else. So maybe somebody is saying no to their project. For me, the reason I said yes to Steve McQueen is because I knew what it was going to be.

S&A: So you'll consider all kinds of projects, studio or independent?

AW: It's got to be on the page. It's got to be solid. I just held up production on Copper because I promised a USC grad student, Ryan Lipscomb, that when I came back from Zimbabwe I would shoot his gun violence PSA. I knew he was smart and I wanted to work with him. My people said, "You better get your butt to Toronto. They're waiting for you there." But I promised him I would do it.

The other thing is, it's not whether there's roles written for us - which, please writers, write them and go find some money and get them to us - but the reality is that we should be castable for any of the roles that our Caucasian counterparts are castable for. If there are roles, then we should be playing them, not waiting for that one role for an African-American woman where they expect us all to dive on it like in a fish feeding tank. The only person they don't need to call us about is the queen of England. Helen [Mirren] can have that, Cate Blanchett can have that. But for anything else, we're just as eligible as all of our white girlfriends.

S&A: Earlier this year we learned about the Fannie Lou Hamer project you're involved in. Any update on that?

John Sayles is writing and directing the four-hour television presentation of me doing Fannie Lou Hamer. [It deals] especially with the two years around the '64 Convention. I'm totally psyched about that. We're in partnership with Sony Pictures Television and what we need is our producing entity, whether it's network or cable. With the networks, there's not a lot of bravery happening. But we're determined to get that done this year.

S&A: What else is next for you?

AW: I'm raising money to do this fabulous script that actually my husband [Roderick Spencer] wrote. He adapted it from a Sheila Williams book called Dancing on the Edge of the Roof. We've got such a great script. We hope to be shooting that by next summer, and it's a really great, funny and poignant film. Stephanie Allain is our producer.

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Re: TYaS actors

Post by Admin on Thu Oct 17, 2013 3:45 pm

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/14/lupita-nyongo-12-years-a-slave_n_4097880.html?utm_hp_ref=entertainment

Lupita Nyong'o On Her Breakout Role In '12 Years A Slave'

Posted: 10/14/2013 1:12 pm EDT | Updated: 10/14/2013 1:12 pm EDT

The next time someone makes a list highlighting the greatest acting debuts of all time, expect Lupita Nyong'o to place near the top, alongside the likes of Edward Norton, Natalie Portman, Marlee Matlin and Orson Welles. Nyong'o plays a key supporting role in Steve McQueen's slavery drama, "12 Years A Slave," and her performance has been so widely praised already that many awards prognosticators have the 30-year-old actress pegged as the only woman who can prevent Oprah Winfrey from winning her first acting Oscar.

"This is Lupita's first movie. Think about where she goes from here," Sarah Paulson, who co-stars with Nyong'o in "12 Years A Slave," told HuffPost Entertainment in a recent interview. "It's like, 'Come on, lady. You've got 10 movies in your future that are not going to be as good as this, no matter how good they are. Just so you know. Then you'll have another great one.'"

Born in Mexico and raised in Kenya (and now a resident of Brooklyn), Nyong'o studied at the Yale School of Drama before scoring what has become her breakout role. She stars as Patsey in McQueen's searing drama, a slave who endures unspeakable acts of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her psychotic owner, played by fellow Oscar hopeful Michael Fassbender. (Chiwetel Ejiofor, Paul Giamatti, Benedict Cumberbatch and Brad Pitt are among the film's other co-stars.)

Before the Oct. 18 release of "12 Years A Slave," HuffPost Entertainment spoke with Nyong'o about her long path to scoring the role of a lifetime, her emotional reaction to seeing the film, and the growing Oscar buzz around her performance.

Steve McQueen compared the search for Patsey to "finding Scarlett O'Hara," in that 1,000 actresses auditioned. Were you aware of how difficult it was for him to cast?
I'm glad I didn't know about the search for Patsey. I was not aware of that at all! I only became aware of it during this press tour. I was about to graduate from the Yale School of Drama, and my manager received the script for her client, Garret Dillahunt, who plays Armsby in the film, and she thought I would be good in the role of Patsey. I put myself on tape in New York with her help, and then a week later I was in Los Angeles and I went in to audition with Francine Maisler, the casting director. She put me through the ringer. Then, finally, I was invited to Louisiana to audition for Steve. I auditioned in three different states.

What did Francine have you do?
She prefaced it with saying, "I'm going to do things with you that are not conventional for an audition, but I just want you to go with it." I went to school for three years to train as an actor, and what they always said was say yes before you say no. I went in there and I surrendered to her process. She was like a drill sergeant. I had to do some of the most harrowing scenes in the film, and to do them from nowhere -- like, from traffic in Los Angeles. She would take me through the scene and, of course, at the end of the scene, Patsey is left more broken than she began. So then she would ask me to start from that point and do the scene again. And again. And again. It was emotionally exhausting.

What kind of emotions did you feel after being hired?
After I auditioned for Steve, I flew back to New Haven, Conn. and I was just about to go and sit in the sun and take in the last 24 hours when I received his call saying, "I'd like to offer you the part." My heart leaped, and then it sunk. I was so happy to get it, but then I realized, "Oh, no. This is where it begins." That was bad! My grief and turmoil would continue for the next two or three months. I think the hardest thing for me was getting beyond the feeling of intimidation and pressure of being thrown into this process with such established artists. Recognizing that I did have it within me to do it -- that I had the confidence and trust in myself. It was also about allowing that kind of grief in. As human beings, we are all about building walls. You experience a trauma, and then you build a wall against that trauma. As an actor, you have to avail yourself to trauma over and over again. Despite knowing what it might do to you. That was the challenge.

This role is obviously physically demanding because of the beatings Patsey takes, but then there are those moments of real tragedy, where you can see the person Patsey could be if not for her horrible situation. For me, it's when she's playing with corn-husk dolls. Was one part of the process harder for you than the other?
For me, in my work as an actor, I am trying to create a character that exists beyond what's in the script and, in this case, the book. So I really tried to create a full human being. Living as Patsey was difficult in itself. For me, it wasn't like, "Oh, today is going to be bad!" Living in her was hard, but it was also really rewarding. The thing about Patsey is that she experiences a deep grief, but there's an extremely bright light in her. That's why she left such a mark on Solomon Northup [the author of the memoir on which the film is based]. He described her as having "an air of loftiness, that neither labor nor lash could rid of her." That's what he wrote in the book. She's genial and agile and hard-working. Where she's making the corn-husk dolls -- that was something that came to me one night when I was just day-dreaming about Patsey and what she might do in her free time. Steve loved the idea and put it in the film. Those were moments of comfort and I think that's all Patsey was looking for. The reason why she picks 500 pounds of cotton a day is that she's just looking for peace and comfort. She's just trying to get through her pain, she's not wallowing in it. I couldn't wallow in it as an actor.

What kind of collaboration did you have with Steve?
One of the first things he said to me -- and the thing he kept repeating along the way -- was that Patsey is simple. He wasn't interested in her being noble. He wanted a simplicity. She lived a life based in survival with the kind of master that she had. I watched Steve's movies and I knew that this man had a vision and that it was a clear. The wonderful thing about Steve is that he has an instinct for the actor's instinct. When he hires people, it's because he believes that they have what it takes to do the thing he hired them to do. He gives you the room to explore everything. It's an environment where failure is welcome and encouraged, because that's where discoveries are made. That's where miracles happen, when you allow it all in. Then he's there to finesse. It was a beautiful creative thing with him.

Many reviewers have said this film casts a new light on slavery. What were you surprised to learn during the process?
For one thing, I didn't know that I didn't know about slavery. I was like, "Whoa! There's so much going on in this world that I didn't realize I didn't know." In its entirety, "12 Years A Slave," and the experience of being in it, has been an education, and I hope its the same for people who watch it. What struck me watching the film is how much it is about a call to love. The only that gets Solomon through those 12 years is love for his family and the faith that he would see them again. Slavery, as it is depicted in Solomon Northup's autobiography and in Steve's film, is very human. That institution was created by human beings in a way that we don't necessarily want to acknowledge or accept. Recognizing the humanity all around. Even a person like Epps, who does such despicable things, you cannot deny in the way that Michael Fassbender plays him that he is human. He is acting out of circumstance and fear and ignorance.

Both Michael and Sarah Paulson add such depth to Epps and his wife, when another film might have portrayed them as one-note villains.
Exactly. It reminds us that we are capable of those things. It is not foreign. It's like today: There are atrocities happening today that are quite like those things that happened back then, so it's not so far away from us. I think that's what the film makes us confront. We are capable of being Epps. We are certainly capable of being Solomon.

What was your reaction after seeing the film for the first time?
I was a wreck. I cried from the moment that Solomon was in shackles to the very end, through the credits and then probably for an hour after. It was a cathartic experience. I was happy to be in that kind of condition, where I'm confronted by so much humanity. I felt a deep sense that something had been satiated. I needed to go through that, and I didn't even know I needed to go through that. I watched that with my best friend and my manager and my agent and it just formed a closeness. That's the wonderful thing about this film. When people leave there is a need to connect with each other. People want to be nicer [laughs].

There is a lot of Oscar buzz for this film and for your performance. Has it sunk in yet that you might earn an Academy Award nomination?
I'm still trying to get over the fact that my name is being mentioned with freakin' Brad Pitt! It's a lot. My name is coming up alongside people that I have grown up watching and who I respect so deeply. That is incredible and unbelievable. At the end of the day, at this point -- before the film has opened -- I'm just so excited that it is resonating. I'm so excited that the thing Steve set off to do is being received and received positively. I just wish for that to continue. If awards buzz is the way in which we get people to see it, then so be it! For me personally, my reward has been being a part of this process. It's a reward that just keeps giving. I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Where do you go after this? I spoke to Sarah Paulson and she joked that you probably won't star in a movie this good for a long time.
For me, I was like, "Maybe I should take up crocheting or something else." [Laughs] Really, I don't know. That's the thing about this experience. I think all of us are feeling that way. We all feel like this has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I'm so happy to have had it. There is no way I'm going to be able to duplicate it, and I will not seek that. I just hope to have a career that extends beyond this project and one that is varied and continues to offer me things that make me feel afraid to do them.

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Re: TYaS actors

Post by Admin on Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:39 pm

http://www.buzzfeed.com/adambvary/lupita-nyongo-12-years-a-slave

Meet The “12 Years A Slave” Actress No One Knows, But Everyone Will Be Talking About

Kenyan native Lupita Nyong’o makes her stunning feature film debut in director Steve McQueen’s highly acclaimed chronicle of American slavery. How she got to this point is itself a Hollywood-friendly tale that is equal parts perseverance and great good fortune. posted on October 17, 2013 at 12:07pm EDT
Adam B. Vary

Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years a Slave. Jaap Butendijk / Fox Searchlight

There are so many great actors teeming within 12 Years a Slave that singling out just one of them almost feels selfish. To start, Chiwetel Ejiofor (Salt, American Gangster) gives the performance of his career as Solomon Northup, a free black man living in New York in the mid-19th century who was kidnapped into slavery and wrote the titular memoir that served as the basis for the film. Michael Fassbender (Prometheus, Shame), meanwhile, is also winning raves for playing the dangerously cruel plantation owner Edwin Epps who ends up as Solomon’s master and tormentor. And then there’s Sarah Paulson, Paul Giamatti, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Alfre Woodard, Garret Dillahunt, Michael Kenneth Williams, and Brad Pitt, all stunning actors with fabulous résumés, contributing superlative performances under the direction of Steve McQueen (Shame, Hunger) from a screenplay by John Ridley (Red Tails).

There is one actor, however, who you have not heard of before this film, and who you will almost certainly be talking about after you see it. And her name is Lupita Nyong’o.

She plays Patsey, another slave on Epps’ plantation, who endures the worst kind of scrutiny from both Epps, who is obsessed with her, and his wife (played by Paulson), who detests her. It would be an enormously demanding role for any actress. But for Nyong’o, it not only marks her feature film debut, it’s also a role the Kenyan native landed three weeks before graduating from the Yale School of Drama last year, and one that could earn her a trip to the Dolby Theatre for the Academy Awards next March.

Not bad for someone who has wanted to act “from when I was an itty bitty girl,” as she puts it while settled comfortably on a hotel suite couch. How Nyong’o was able to make her childhood dream a reality is itself a Hollywood-friendly tale that is equal parts perseverance and great good fortune.

Lupita Nyong’o at the Los Angeles premiere of 12 Years a Slave on Oct. 14, 2013. Mario Anzuoni / Reuters

The first step was even believing she could actually be a professional actress in the first place. “When I was growing up [in Kenya], there wasn’t much of an entertainment industry,” she says. “Entertainers were not financially stable, and always had to do other things to make ends meet.” Then there’s the sheer fact that there aren’t that many African women in movies at all. “The first time that it occurred to me that I could maybe make a career out of [acting] was when I watched The Color Purple,” Nyong’o says. “I saw people that looked like me on camera. I was like, ‘Wow! Maybe I can be like that!’”

Like many budding actors, she corralled her classmates to perform in plays with her, but when Nyong’o left Kenya to go to Hampshire College in the U.S., she only pursued film studies, as well as African studies, rather than acting itself. She worked as a production assistant on 2005’s The Constant Gardener, which shot in part in Kenya, and she did score a part in a Kenyan miniseries called Sugar. But that dream of acting in major feature films like The Color Purple began tugging hard at her heart. “I was going through a career crisis of ‘What’s my life about?’” she says. “I realized that I would really, truly regret it if I never tried to be an actor professionally. So I decided I would apply to the best schools I knew of in the U.S., which is a country that I’d come to know and love. I got into Yale. And I never looked back.”

Within her immediate family, Nyong’o says her dream was met with nothing but support. “My father used to be an actor in school — so he lives vicariously through me,” she says. “My parents always taught us to do the thing we felt we were called to do on this Earth, and just do it to pursue it with spirit of excellence, you know?” Her actual given name, Eba, is after her great-grandmother, “who was known for her storytelling.”

But without any real role models of major Kenyan movie stars to point to, everyone outside of her family was less than supportive of Nyong’o flying off to America to try her hand at acting. “I know some of it stems from love, but there was a lot of doubt,” she says. “I was definitely encouraged to keep the acting as an extracurricular activity, as a hobby, rather than the main focus.”

And then came 12 Years a Slave.
Francois Duhamel / Fox Searchlight

Lupita Nyong’o and Chiwetel Ejiofor
Francois Duhamel / Fox Searchlight

Sarah Paulson and Lupita Nyong’o


Nyong’o tried out three times to play Patsey, each time performing two of the character’s most emotionally intense roles in the film. For every audition, Nyong’o had to figure out how to step into scenes of profound emotional vulnerability in stark, anonymous audition rooms with bad lighting and overeager air conditioners. So she leaned on an acting maxim she picked up somewhere: “An audition is about getting the dart on the board, not hitting the bull’s-eye,” she says. “Obviously, you don’t have the kind of time to sit with a character and be marinated by the character. So you just go with what you know, until that point, and hope that that’s what they’re looking for.”

And it was. Still, at first, Nyong’o truly couldn’t believe she had won the role. “To get this was incredible,” she says before taking a deep, long breath. “I honestly could not believe that I had booked a job, and I spent the weeks before going up to Louisiana preparing for the role, but also being certain that I would get fired before I got there. I was just certain. I was just like, They made a mistake! They’re going to call me up and say, ‘Oh, sorry, we called the wrong person.’”

Fassbender and McQueen apparently sensed how overwhelmed Nyong’o was feeling. “I remember in my first rehearsal with Michael, he said to me after the rehearsal, ‘You are my peer,’” Nyong’o remembers as her eyes begin to well up. She puts her hand to her chest, and her voice drops to a whisper. “And Steve said to me, ‘Thank you for being born.’ Oh, god, I’m even going to cry now.”

Lupita Nyong’o in Non-Stop Universal Pictures

Just when it seems like things are starting to get too heavy, Nyong’o breaks into a wide smile and laughs at herself, the kind of easy, generous, infectious laugh that comes as a relief after watching her harrowing work in 12 Years a Slave.

Still, it is difficult not to wonder at least a little how anyone could be functional enough to work again at all after enacting a role that could be so emotionally shredding. But Nyong’o was able to approach Patsey with a kind of pragmatic grace one wishes were much more common in Hollywood, proving she won’t have too much trouble in the future (and fortunately, her next role is much less intense — she plays a flight attendant alongside Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery in the Liam Neeson airline thriller Non-Stop, due out in February 2014). “It was very hard, but it was so necessary,” she says of playing Patsey. “I recognize that I have the privilege of stepping in and out of it. Patsey didn’t. This was her life. And the fact that this was real I think is what made it so much more possible. I’m not drawing from abstractions. I’m drawing from hard facts. So that was very grounding for me. It’s like, if Patsey could have lived this, surely you can do it for a few hours a day.”

Nyong’o chuckles nervously. She is the type of person who can speak with genuine wonder about having her own trailer — “I remember walking in and I was like, ‘Oh wow, there’s a cot there. Oh there’s a fridge. My god there’s a TV!’” Even when she shares that she suffered from insomnia while shooting, Nyong’o cannot help but interpret that experience through the best possible lens. “The insomnia was a combination of grappling with the pain that I was conjuring,” she says, “and the joy of doing it with such an incredible group of people who are just as inspired, challenged, and committed to telling this story.”

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Re: TYaS actors

Post by Admin on Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:40 pm

http://popwrapped.wordpress.com/2013/10/18/brad-pitt-wont-be-taking-his-kids-to-see-12-years-a-slave-anytime-soon/


Brad Pitt Won’t Be Taking His Kids To See 12 Years A Slave Anytime Soon
popwrapped / 11 hours ago

Dani Strehle
Content Editor

There aren’t too many movies these days that get me really excited. Once they stopped making Harry Potter movies, I kind of lost interest. However, this fall movie season has really piqued my interest. From Carrie to The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, I foresee a lot of my time being spent in the theater.

Another movie that I look forward to seeing is 12 Years a Slave, starring Brad Pitt, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and the delicious Michael Fassbender. 12 Years a Slave is an adaptation of the autobiography of the same name, penned by Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor); a free black men from New York who was captured and sold into slavery to a wicked and malicious slave owner, played by Fassbender. Pitt portrays a Canadian abolitionist who seeks to free Northup once and for all.
Photo courtesy of thefilmstage.com

Photo courtesy of thefilmstage.com

I imagine having children in Hollywood is a complicated matter. Of course one would want their children to see the work that they do, but when you take part in a project as gritty and unsavory as this one, where do you draw the line? Brad Pitt has a few ideas about this dilemma.

While on The Today Show, Pitt was asked whether or not he would allow his children to watch 12 Years a Slave; to which he replied: “Absolutely. Maybe my eldest I would [let him watch it] right now. I’d rather for the others to get a little bit older and understand the dynamics of the world a little more.”

Pitt continued by saying that this film is “One of those few films that cuts to the base of our humanity.” It’s something that children really SHOULD see, but I agree that it shouldn’t be until they have a better understanding of all the intricacies of the human condition and the details of this sad and dark time in our nation’s history.

Ejiofor, who plays the wrongfully enslaved Solomon Northup, said that, “It was heartbreaking to look behind the curtain of that period in history. I’d never read or see anything like it in my life. Of course, I knew about slavery, but mostly in a general context.”
Photo courtesy of movies.yahoo.com

Photo courtesy of movies.yahoo.com

“This story really does put you in Solomon’s mindset, so that you start to understand what he is going through and what he is witnessing.”

Below is a featurette about not just the film, but Solomon Northup, as well. His story truly is a remarkable one.

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Re: TYaS actors

Post by Admin on Fri Oct 18, 2013 10:02 pm

http://www.justjared.com/2013/10/16/brad-pitt-12-years-a-slave-cuts-to-the-base-of-humanity/

Wed, 16 October 2013 at 9:50 am
Brad Pitt: '12 Years a Slave' Cuts to the Base of Humanity

Brad Pitt sits down for an interview with the Today show to discuss his new movie 12 Years a Slave on Wednesday (October 16).

“I’m a moviegoer,” the 49-year-old actor said. “That was a place that was a big escape for me, to open my eyes up to the world when I was a little, little kid. I loved going to see films. So I think of it from that side of it, and I know the impact of this film.”

“It’s one of those few films that … cuts to the base of our humanity,” Brad continued. “And it was not until I saw Solomon Northup’s story that I fully, fully (grasped) the utter horror of losing your freedom or denying another one their freedom, taking their freedom, splitting their family apart.”

Check out the full interview below…

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Post by Admin on Sat Oct 19, 2013 12:18 am

http://colorlines.com/archives/2013/10/actress_lupita_nyongo_talks_necessity_of_violence_in_12_years_a_slave.html

Actress Lupita Nyong’o Talks Preparing for Violence in Film ‘12 Years a Slave’
(From left to right: Actress Sarah Paulson, actress Alfre Woodard, actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, director Steve McQueen, actor Michael Fassbender and actress Lupita Nyong’o in “12 Years a Slave.”) Larry Busacca/ Getty Images

by Jamilah King, Monday, October 7 2013, 10:48 AM EST

Steven McQueen’s highly anticipated slave-themed drama “12 Years a Slave” makes its United States debut on October 18, but the film has already become to the talk of the industry for its unbridled approach toward capturing the brutality of slavery. At a recent screening at the Toronto Film Festival, some movie-goers walked out of the theater because they couldn’t stand the film’s brutality.

The film stars Chitwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup, a black man who was born free in New York but was captured and sold into slavery. Newcomer actress Lupita Nyong’o, who recently won the New Hollywood Award, takes up a prominent role in the film and is a central character in one of its most brutal scenes, in which Solomon is forced to whip another slave on the plantation.

Nyong’o talked to Shadow & Act’s Jai Tiggett about her role in the film.

   S&A: The most painful and memorable scene to watch is that in which Epps asks Solomon (Chiwetel Ejiofor) to whip your character, and as he starts to do that, Epps takes over because he doesn’t like Solomon’s effort. McQueen doesn’t show the violence, but rather suggests it through your character. It’s not only emotionally stirring, but McQueen makes us watch for what seems like an eternity, which makes it even more uncomfortable. Tell me about filming that scene.

   LN: All throughout filming 12 Years a Slave, there was a focus like no other. Everyone took ownership of this film and gave their all. So there was always a reverence, a vibration on set, as Michael [Fassbender] says a lot. It was like a sound that you could hear, a focus. And on that particular day I remember getting on set and feeling like I was covered. Everyone knew that this was going to be a hard day, not just for me, but for everyone involved. And we just went about getting it done. In the autobiography, Solomon [Northup] describes that day as the “darkest day of all time.” But I felt safe going to that depth of despair in that environment. And I also felt the humiliation quite similar to what Patsey must have felt, though obviously hers was much worse.

You can read the rest of the interview over at Shadow & Act.

Nyong’o sat down with another one of the film’s stars, Alfre Woodard, to talk more about its upcoming release.

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Post by Admin on Sat Oct 19, 2013 12:54 am

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-10-11/entertainment/sc-mov-1009-12-years-a-slave-20131011_1_slave-solomon-northup-michael-fassbender

To hell and back for '12 Years a Slave'
Director Steve McQueen took his '12 Years a Slave' cast to Louisiana's sultry swamps in pursuit of 3-dimensional reality
October 11, 2013|Michael Phillips

Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong'o and Chiwetel Ejiofor in Steve McQueens's "12 Years a Slave."

Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong'o and Chiwetel Ejiofor in Steve McQueens's "12 Years a Slave." (Francois Duhamel/Fox Searchlight)

(Toronto) There are books you should've read by now but haven't — books with granite reputations, the ones commonly, seemingly contractually labeled great, or important, or both.

Then there's literature you didn't even know existed. For the director Steve McQueen, "12 Years a Slave" was one such revelation. In 1853 Solomon Northup, a free-born black man living in Saratoga, N.Y., published a memoir detailing nearly 12 years of his life, the period after being abducted and sold into slavery. His years lost in the moral charnel house of Louisiana plantation life, and his rescue and return to his family up north, made for a gripping narrative, published five months after regaining his freedom.

This book was news to McQueen, the visual, video and film installation artist who divides his time with his partner and two children between London and Amsterdam. Initially, as McQueen told me in an interview during the Toronto International Film Festival last month, he knew he wanted to a make a film about slavery and that he "needed an 'in,' some way into the story as such."

With screenwriter John Ridley, according to McQueen, he'd begun mapping out a story of a free slave from the north who gets kidnapped and dragged into slavery down south. Things were progressing slowly. "And my partner, her being an historian (cultural critic Bianca Stigter), asked what turned out to be the obvious question: 'Why don't you look into actual slave narratives?' So we did. And she came up with this book '12 Years a Slave,' and as soon as it was in my hand, my idea met its three-dimensional reality. I thought: How can I not know this book? And then I realized no one I knew really knew the book. No one. So it became my passion to make this book into a film."

McQueen's first narrative feature, "Hunger" (2008), starred Michael Fassbender as Irish Republican Army member Bobby Sands, who in 1981 staged a hunger strike in Northern Ireland's notorious Maze prison. McQueen and Fassbender followed "Hunger" with "Shame" (2011), about a New York city sex addict's reckoning. Both films have been described, by many, with the adjective "unflinching." Yet it is the violence, physical and psychological, that Northup survives in "12 Years a Slave" that truly deserves the word.

Without playing into the wrong sort of melodrama, McQueen's insistence that we witness, in detail, some of the worst horrors experienced by Northup that makes the film an extraordinary experience. It's not what you might term "movie-grueling"; it's different, more dispassionate, yet no less powerful for its watchful perspective.

The first-rate British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Northup. "The battle of the film, I think, is for this man's heart, and soul, and spirit," he said in a separate Toronto interview. "Solomon's surrounded by people who are losing their souls, and their minds, and their spirits. Nelson Mandela said it: When a man steps on another man's neck, two people suffer."

Northup's odyssey takes him to a ring of hell occupied and ruled by the venal alcoholic slaveholder Epps, portrayed by Fassbender. "It sounds mad, but Solomon's a bit like Alice in Wonderland, going down the rabbit hole," Ejiofor said. "And he's determined to try to figure things out. It's a surreal fairy tale in a way, pure madness that seemingly has no end, no escape." Many of the scenes, such as the prolonged single take in which Epps forces Northup to whip Epp's favored slave girl, Patsey, required a level of emotional commitment many actors couldn't fake if they tried. Last summer's 35-day shoot, Ejiofor said, was tough to shake once it was over.

"Oh, yeah," he exhaled, with a weary smile. "It took about two months. I wasn't in the mood to re-engage with the world. I was too far down the rabbit hole… But I think we all went through that. We all dived in. We all felt it. The Louisiana heat. We filmed in the summer, and the first day was something like 108 degrees, and when it's that hot everything moves a little bit slower, like a dream, and all the cicadas, the trees, the swamps...amazing. Surreal. Beautiful. And you couldn't stop thinking about the juxtaposition of all that beauty and nature with what these people were doing to each other."

Fassbender, who sat with McQueen in a joint interview, was no stranger to McQueen's approach. "The level of focus on Steve's sets, you can almost hear it," the actor said. "It's like a high-sounding hum of concentration. When you're doing something as delicate and as important as this, it's critical. And at the end of the day, there's not much left in the tank, so you go home, you have something to eat, and decompress a bit, but all the time you're thinking: 'Ahhh, should've done it this way.' Or you're already thinking about tomorrow's work."

In one scene, Northup is strung up to be hanged and very nearly loses consciousness; it's a lengthy sequence, and as filmed by McQueen, eerily devoid of the usual dramatic builds. "Filmmaking," McQueen offered, "is all about holding the shot when it's necessary. You don't want to let the air out of the bag. Using something like real time can be extremely powerful."

Fassbender picked up the theme: "What Steve does in that scene, what's so effective, is force the audience to become a participant. They're not allowed off the hook. What Steve believes, and I believe, is that the power of the close-up has been lost because we use them so much." In "12 Years a Slave," produced by Brad Pitt's Plan B production company (Pitt takes a supporting role as a carpenter who takes a job on Epps' plantation), the close-ups matter because they're sparingly deployed. And they're earned.

Along with various colleagues behind the camera, Ejiofor and Fassbender are likely Academy Award contenders for their work here. So is screen newcomer Lupita Nyong'o, who plays Patsey, the object of Epps' torturous affections. Born in Mexico, raised in Kenya, Nyong'o was cast in "12 Years a Slave" two weeks prior to graduating from the Yale School of Drama. The filming, she said, demanded fearlessness as an actress.

"I worked out different rituals to get myself in and out, as best I could. I must admit I was an insomniac during the entire shoot! It was a combination of things, the emotional place I had to go, but also the excitement and the joy of making the project as well. Every day was so alive. We were living on an another level. Everyone on set took ownership. It was everyone's personal project."

And it was an honor, she said. "These people we were playing, they lived their lives already. And we got to bring them back to life. It's about honoring them by enjoying our freedom, you know? And when Steve said cut, you could do the spirits a favor and go on with your life. I've never been enslaved, and it's thanks to these people, who went through it...it's not so long ago these atrocities happened. And healing comes with understanding and accepting that past, not sweeping it under the carpet. It's high time this film existed."

Right now the only thing burdening "12 Years a Slave" is the weight of crushing expectation. "We all felt very powerfully that the story needed to be told," Ejiofor said. "And the initial response has been amazing, at Telluride and here in Toronto. But I do want people to look at it with their own eyes. The thing about hype and buzz and all these words is that they affect the experience, somehow. I want people to come and watch the film with their own eyes, their own minds, their own pasts, their own history and their own personal lives, to see where this story relates and correlates with everything they bring to it. I just want people to ignore the buzz, so they can come to it with a fresh mind."

"12 Years a Slave" opens Friday.

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Post by Admin on Sat Oct 19, 2013 1:04 am

http://www.mediamikes.com/2013/10/12-years-a-slave-premieres-at-nyff/

“12 Years A Slave” Premieres at NYFF
October 11, 2013 by Lauren Damon

12 Years a Slave, an intense new drama from director Steve McQueen, made its New York premiere on Tuesday October 8th as part of the 51st Annual New York Film Fest at Lincoln Center. The film follows the true life story of Solomon Northup (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man in New York, who in 1841 was deceived and sent southward to be sold as a slave. I spoke with two of the actors behind the most sinister figures in this harrowing story. They discussed the sources of their characters’ malevolence.

Paul Dano plays unstable slave driver John Tibeats who abuses his power over Solomon.

Lauren Damon: Tibeats is so spiteful in his actions, did you work out what makes him like this?
Paul Dano: Well you know that’s kind of one of the big things you do to prepare for something is you know, create a personal history for the character. So…I think he was probably somebody who was treated poorly or was made to feel like he had no authority. I don’t think he had a great life and so the only place he could take out his feelings about himself were slaves.

LD: What was the most challenging scene for you?
Dano: I have to do a song in it. That was…that was interesting.2_DANO

LD: Having to cultivate all this anger for your scenes, did you do anything to come down from that after shooting?
Dano: You know it was pretty hot in those period clothes, in July, in Louisiana so a shower and a cocktail.

Michael Fassbender plays monstrous planter Edwin Epps. Fassbender has previously worked with director McQueen on critical hits Hunger and Shame.

Lauren Damon: Since this is your third film with Steve, do you think you trust him more than any other director now?
Michael Fassbender: Pretty much!

LD: You’ve been to some very dark places in his films.
3_FASSBENDERFassbender: Yeah, I think–you know, human places. Human stories.

In the film Edwin Epps’s infatuation with his own slave Patsey (played by Lupita Nyong’o) drives him to extreme violence.

LD: Where do you think all that rage that Edwin has comes from?
Fassbender: I think out of confusion. He takes it out mainly on the person that he loves because he can’t process that information. He doesn’t have the intellect to do it. Or the substance as a human being. So he thinks by destroying it, he’ll destroy his emotion towards her and of course that doesn’t work.

NYFF continues through October 13th while 12 Years a Slave opens in theaters on the 18th.

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Post by Admin on Sat Oct 19, 2013 1:10 am

http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/interview-alfre-woodard-12-years-a-slave

Interview: Alfre Woodard Talks to S&A About '12 Years a Slave,' "Slave Movie Fever," and That Much-Discussed Oprah Special
Interviews
by Jai Tiggett
October 17, 2013 11:35 AM


Alfre Woodard has a brief but powerful appearance in Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave as Mistress Shaw, a formerly enslaved woman who has risen in the Southern caste system. I had a chance to chat briefly with Woodard to get her thoughts on the film and a few insights from her decades-long acting career.

SHADOW&ACT: Tell me about playing Mistress Shaw.

ALFRE WOODARD: To be able to do Mistress Shaw, not only is it somebody we've never met before, but I knew it was going to call upon a deeper level of my skills to pull it off in one scene. This world had to be so fully realized that when we're not at the Shaw plantation, we can imagine what's going on just beyond the fences. I didn't want the train to come off the rails when we switch to the Shaw plantation and go back.

S&A: This is your first feature with Steve McQueen. Tell me about how you came onto the project.

AW: My people rang me and said, "Steve McQueen is doing a movie and he wants you to be in it."

I said, "Okay, I'm in it."

And they said, "Well no, you've got to read the script."

I said, "Steve McQueen, right?"

They said, "But it's just one scene."

I said, "I'd pull cable for Steve McQueen."

S&A: So you were already a fan.

AW: The thing that I love about him as a filmmaker is that for viewers, he assumes our intelligence. So he doesn't have people speak their inner life or subtext out loud. He's able to take maybe three pages of narrative and cinematically give you all of that information. So that's what he gives me as a viewer.

S&A: And as an actor?

AW: He always tells you something you can activate, and that's what a real actor wants. Some people sit around conceptualizing and it's like, "You know, I can't act that out. Give me something I can use."

His mind never shuts off. It's not chaotic, but images and connections are constantly occurring to him. It's a beautiful, complex, artistic mind.

S&A: With this film, Django Unchained, Lincoln, Amma Asante's Belle, and several more films in the works that deal with the situation of slavery, would you call it a trend, that Hollywood seems suddenly interested in telling these stories?

AW: Let me tell you this. Just because there's about five African-American pictures out within five months, people will also say, "Oh, it's a Renaissance." Don't worry, it'll dry right back up unfortunately. All of those pictures, all those stories that happen to be placed in a slave economy, people were trying to get them made since I got to Hollywood 39 years ago. Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, everybody's been trying to tell those stories and the stories of all the decades in between. Stories about people - not about them being black, but about people we know. So it's not that anything has changed.
Alfre Woodard in '12 Years a Slave'

S&A: Would you say it's just a consequence of Django's box office success, that we're now seeing more of these films get made?

AW: I'm sure they started going faster once one of them made some money. That's always the bottom line. And so if this one makes money they'll say, "Okay, let's keep going. Let's put more out."

But it's not because Hollywood is suddenly receptive. It's not because there are suddenly some black people that are going to do the stories, because there have always been black people trying to get all of our stories done. It's just serendipitous that it happened right now.

S&A: We hear a lot about the scarcity of roles for black actresses. The subject came up again during the OWN special with you, Phylicia Rashad, Viola Davis and Gabrielle Union. On the one hand we hear from actresses that there aren't enough roles. But from new filmmakers, we hear that there isn't enough access. Where's the disconnect in your opinion?

AW: [Filmmakers] can get to any of us very easily, so I don't buy that. But you've got to come strong with those scripts. They can't be flaky or almost there. We want smart scripts just like everybody else. So maybe somebody is saying no to their project. For me, the reason I said yes to Steve McQueen is because I knew what it was going to be.

S&A: So you'll consider all kinds of projects, studio or independent?

AW: It's got to be on the page. It's got to be solid. I just held up production on Copper because I promised a USC grad student, Ryan Lipscomb, that when I came back from Zimbabwe I would shoot his gun violence PSA. I knew he was smart and I wanted to work with him. My people said, "You better get your butt to Toronto. They're waiting for you there." But I promised him I would do it.

The other thing is, it's not whether there's roles written for us - which, please writers, write them and go find some money and get them to us - but the reality is that we should be castable for any of the roles that our Caucasian counterparts are castable for. If there are roles, then we should be playing them, not waiting for that one role for an African-American woman where they expect us all to dive on it like in a fish feeding tank. The only person they don't need to call us about is the queen of England. Helen [Mirren] can have that, Cate Blanchett can have that. But for anything else, we're just as eligible as all of our white girlfriends.

S&A: Earlier this year we learned about the Fannie Lou Hamer project you're involved in. Any update on that?

John Sayles is writing and directing the four-hour television presentation of me doing Fannie Lou Hamer. [It deals] especially with the two years around the '64 Convention. I'm totally psyched about that. We're in partnership with Sony Pictures Television and what we need is our producing entity, whether it's network or cable. With the networks, there's not a lot of bravery happening. But we're determined to get that done this year.

S&A: What else is next for you?

AW: I'm raising money to do this fabulous script that actually my husband [Roderick Spencer] wrote. He adapted it from a Sheila Williams book called Dancing on the Edge of the Roof. We've got such a great script. We hope to be shooting that by next summer, and it's a really great, funny and poignant film. Stephanie Allain is our producer.

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Re: TYaS actors

Post by Admin on Sat Oct 19, 2013 1:36 am

http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/kelsey-scott-tells-s-a-about-playing-solomons-wife-in-12-years-a-slave-actor-director-crush-on-steve-mcqueen

Interview: Kelsey Scott Talks To S&A About Playing Chiwetel's Wife In '12 Years A Slave,' Her Crush On Steve McQueen, More
Interviews
by Vanessa Martinez
October 16, 2013 1:20 PM

Speaking to actor/screenwriter Kelsey Scott was a delightful, amusing, insightful experience. Kelsey, who plays Solomon Northup's wife Anne in Steve McQueen's harrowing upcoming drama 12 Years a Slave, candidly and graciously spoke on the personal difficulties surrounding her trip - which almost didn't happen - to that fateful New Orleans audition 2 years ago.

The actress/screenwriter began her career on TV back in 1989, when she starred in the ABC sitcom The Robert Guillaume Show. Since then, aside from stage work which began at the Atlanta's professional theater scene, Scott delved into numerous shorts and TV projects including Days of Our Lives, House M.D., The Black Dawn, Grey's Anatomy, The Young and The Restless, Hollywood Girl (web series), among others. However, aside from acting, which she will continue to pursue (especially on film), Scott is an established screenwriter who has penned scripts for the Sony Pic thrillers Motives and Motives 2, the web series Hollywood Girl, along with several short films.

Scott, who is also currently working on finishing her script, a feature romantic comedy of her very own, shared a story about the process of embodying the role of Anne - and preparing for that character - that was particularly moving to this interviewer; I'm hopeful that you will find it touching too, as well as inspiring.

In our interview below, she also elaborates on working with lauded British director Steve McQueen, his "not-so-Hollywood approach" to casting and directing, and actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, who stars as husband in captivity Solomon Northup.

VM: How did you get cast in the film?

KS: Well, I originally put myself on tape for another role, a smaller role, and I got a call back. I actually had to fly back to New Orleans, and went to the audition. I thought I blew it. I was driving away and I was upset with myself, and so I went to a little restaurant to get myself something to eat and to calm myself, and my agent called and said “go back” and I was like “what do you mean go back?” and he said “they want you to read for a larger role.” Really? That audition that I just thought I blew? Oh ok. I had changed out of my clothes and everything, and I went back and ultimately I was cast as Anne.

VM: How was meeting Steve McQueen? Were you familiar with his work?

KS: I was very aware of him. I’ve seen Hunger; I’ve seen Shame. I’m a fan of his work and before even putting myself through the original audition, I re-watched his movies to get an idea of his style and to make sure that I was in line with his signature in terms of film. I was nervous going in. I respect his work and I respect him as a filmmaker, so I wanted to put my best foot forward. But he was so nice, really calm and chill and not Hollywood at all, so any nerves that I had dissipated when I actually met him. It was a very nerveless audition.

VM: How was he on set as a director?

KS: I have like, an actor/director crush on Steve McQueen’s work. What’s really great about him is that he trusts you to do your work before you get to set. I’ve worked with some really great people and everyone has a different style, and Steve is just very much like “I got you, that means I believe in you.” Then you just come to work and you work. If there’s an adjustment to make, then certainly he’s going to step in, but there’s not any kind of micromanaging at all. He just says, “you’re the actor, ok, so I trust you to act. There was one scene specifically where there was no dialogue, and it was between Chiwetel and I. There was an emotion the script said that we needed to convey, and so Steve walks in and he says, “do you guys need me for this or can you figure it out?” [laughs] Sure we can! He clears the room; he goes off set. Chiwetel and I discuss it, figure out what feels organic, what feels right, a couple minutes later, he comes in the room and he says “show me what you got;” we show him and he goes “great let’s film it.” [laughs] That’s amazing, and it felt so empowering to be truly trusted as an artist.

VM: How faithful was your character to the book?

KS: In general, the book is very true to the memoir. When I read it, it was particularly visceral, and, in the script, it kept that kind of tension, that power. I wondered when I read the book how is he [McQueen] going to adapt this! It’s not mainstream; it’s something for people who want the real story and not kind of the sugar coated or glazed version of it. When I read the screenplay it was so true to it, and then I wondered oh man, how are they going to shoot this! You see her through the eyes of Solomon and he was absolutely in love with his wife; their relationship was one of the things that kept him going through that ordeal and I think that the film is true that also.

VM: They must have held many auditions for the part; you were likely selected from several hundred perhaps. Congratulations!

KS: Thank you! Well, I don’t know. There was this one time while we were on our lunch break while filming, and Steve [McQueen] just casually asks, “So what other work have you done?” What I realized was that when I went into the audition and the casting director handed him my headshot, he [McQueen] never flipped it over to see whether or not I had however many acting credits, or who else I had worked with, and I doubt he checked my star meter rating on imdb.

In that conversation, I realized he strictly cast me off that audition and that’s so not Hollywood. It’s not often that we get those types of chances. Normally when you’re in an L.A. conversation it’s not like that. It’s not only who you know, but your star meter, the number of followers you have on twitter and whether or not you’re somebody’s cousin. So many elements play into getting in the room and getting cast that you just never know.

VM: How was working with Chiwetel Ejiofor?

KS: By the time our scenes came along, he had done a lot of the shooting on the plantation work while in captivity. There were times where you could feel it on him, not like he wasn’t giving his all performance wise. I just kind of felt that weight of the story sometimes, which is actually very helpful because their relationship was so secure and such a rock for him. Their marriage was important to him and his family was important to him. So on screen, that weight encouraged me to be more of that vessel for him and that solace for him.

But off screen he was great! It’s funny because you hear stories that the director chooses the first day to shoot the intimate scenes, which was the same thing that happened. So first we shot a family scene, then next thing you know we’re in the bedroom and I’m like “Hi, I’m Kelsey!” [Laughs] Nice to meet you!

VM: Well…that couldn’t be too terrible with Chiwetel.

KS: I wasn’t going to complain [laughs]. No, he’s professional, kind and very giving, All around, this cast and crew I came in contact with, it was a very pleasant experience, which doesn’t always happen. In film, TV stage there’s behind the scenes stuff, but my experience was very positive, very nurturing and I appreciated that.

VM: How do you prepare for a role like this? Even though you are only in a few scenes, they seem to have required a lot from you emotionally.

KS: Part of it was reading the book more than once and trying to get a feel of who this woman [Anne Northup] was. Also understanding Solomon help me me understand Anne. I’m not a mother, but I have a niece and I’m like everyone’s favorite God mom [laughs], but I tried having to equate having a family structure and then having it torn apart. We can always pick things from our past and our lives that have put us in emotional places.

Well, [chuckles] I guess I’ll tell the story. A couple of years ago, it seems like yesterday which I’m sure a lot of people can understand, my mother passed away. She was… [sigh] some people would like to have really strong and close relationships with their mothers, and my mother continued to be my best friend even though she’s not physically here. I took a risk in going out for this part, getting to New Orleans almost didn’t happen. I almost didn’t get on that plane to go for that part.

Remember, when I went for the call back, I was going for a smaller role, one scene, and I couldn’t afford it. I didn’t have anywhere or knew anyone that I could stay with in New Orleans. It was a risk to do it. But also, on the heels of my mother’s death, I just couldn’t justify myself not going for it. It’s something I’d been doing since I was a child, a success she had always wanted for me, and I said “Ok mom, here we go,” and got on the plane and did it. So in regards to that, there are places we can all go, so we did it together.

VM: I’m sorry about your mother.

KS: Thank you. Well, I guess this isn’t part of talking about the film [laughs].

VM: No it is, because you’re speaking on what you drew from to play such an emotional role, and these experiences make you a better actor, aside from your creativity and intuition as an artist. Thanks for being so candid.

KS: There was a blanket my mom made. It was something she gave me before she passed, and I brought it with me on the trip and I kept it in my trailer, and it was there, so she was there. Particularly when we got to the more difficult scenes it was something that I connected with because as anyone who has gone through the grieving process knows, the stages, you go from bawling your eyes out every single minute to locking everything up and not admitting that you have any emotion. So I went though all of that.

There were some scenes that it was necessary for me to be very raw with my feelings, with what was going on, and dealing with grief sometimes makes you go the opposite direction. So that blanket was my connection to my mom to allow me to open up some stuff that I had closed off. In any role you find those things that help you go to those places.

VM: I’m touched by your story. I already know that when I see you in this film, I’m going to cry!

KS: [Laughs] I don’t want to be one of those …you know how people make fun of "methody" actors, who, on set go to this place and don’t even talk to people. Like, I’m in character, don’t touch me! [Laughs] I didn’t want to be one of those people, but for some of it I sort of had to be because I had to reach back for some stuff. So, for one of those last scenes in the film, it was really important to just kind of stay in this bubble of emotion. Afterward, I was like “I’m totally like one of these freaky actors.” [Laughs]

VM: Do you think the brutality and realism of the film will alienate audiences, especially the black audience?

KS: I hope people see it. It’s a true story, about our stories. Besides that, I’ve seen it and…it is special. I’m so grateful and humbled to be in it, and feel part of something historic.

If I wasn’t in it, I would still go see it, but don’t print that because no one would believe it!

Kelsey Scott can be reached on Twitter @MsKelseyScott

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Post by Admin on Tue Oct 22, 2013 3:07 pm

http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1715863/12-years-a-slave-brutal-characters.jhtml


Oct 19 2013 11:36 AM EDT 866
'12 Years A Slave' Cast Explain Why That Dancing Scene Is So Twisted
Michael Fassbender and Sarah Paulson talk to MTV News about the 'brutality' of their characters.

By Tami Katzoff

There are many disturbing scenes in Steve McQueen's new film, "12 Years a Slave." Based on the true story of Solomon Northup's pre-Civil War journey from freedom to slavery and back again, "12 Years" contains horrible images of physical cruelty and suffering. But one scene in particular encapsulates the twisted yet prevailing mindset of many Southern slave owners during that era.

In the middle of the night, Edwin Epps, played by Michael Fassbender, storms into the slaves' quarters on his Louisiana plantation, rouses them awake and orders them into the main house. Once there, he commands them to dance. With his fiddle, Northup provides musical accompaniment to the broken, exhausted group. Until he was kidnapped and smuggled southward into slavery, he had been an accomplished musician living with his family in upstate New York.

'12 Years A Slave' Cast Open Up About The Reality Of Slavery In The South

The scene is surreal and is indicative of Epps' attitude toward the people who picked his cotton. "He was dependent on his slaves, emotionally, beyond the fact that he's dependent on them economically," Fassbender explained when the cast spoke with MTV News. "He's got this need to be around them all the time."

Chiwetel Ejiofor, who plays Northup, further described the slave owner's mindset: "Epps is somebody who is driven mad by his own brutality," he said. "I think it was Nelson Mandela who said that if a man puts his foot on another man's neck, two people suffer. And Epps is sort of the result of that. He's a man who's frying his own brain. In fact, I think Solomon, seeing Epps, is terrified of ending up like that, of ending up losing his mind in this place."

Sarah Paulson portrays Epps' wife, who is equally brutal toward the slaves. "This is a woman who, to me, just doesn't have the capacity to reach beyond her own emotional, spiritual and psychological limitations," Paulson said of her character. "She's raised by bigots and has a certain set of beliefs that are going to be unchanged no matter what, because she's just not smart enough to have it be any other way."

The most unsettling thing about "12 Years a Slave," and the thought that lingers the longest after seeing it, is that people were actually treated this way, every day. "In that part of the South, at that time, there was nothing to challenge this way of thinking," Paulson said. "This was the way it was."

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