Director Steve McQueen’s highly-anticipated drama, 12 Years A Slave, is set to open nationwide Oct. 18.
Oscar buzz has been swirling for the movie and for the film’s stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender and newcomer Lupita Nyong’o.
The highly-anticipated film also features Alfre Woodard, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Quvenzhane Wallis, Sarah Paulson, Paul Dano, Scoot McNairy, Garrett Dillahunt, Dwight Henry, Michael K. Williams, and Brad Pitt.
The movie, based on a true story, is a riveting account of Solomon Northup, a free black man who was kidnapped from New York and sold into brutal slavery in mid-1850s Louisiana, and the inspiring story of his desperate struggle to return home to his family.
I recently caught up with Alfre Woodard in New York to talk about her small, but pivotal role in the film. She plays Mistress Shaw, a black woman who is married to a white man. Shaw, who is not a slave, runs the house to the delight of her husband.
DD: How did you come to be involved in this movie and play a role like Mistress Shaw?
AW: It was Steve McQueen. I was so excited to get to work with him. Oh, my God, here is a new filmmaker with a voice and is showing artistic ability.
DD: You were already a fan of McQueen’s?
AW: Yes, in fact, I was campaigning for his film, ‘Shame’. I thought it was the best picture when it came out.
DD: So, back to how you became involved in the movie.
AW: I was sent the script. I said, ‘yes.’ I discovered Mistress Shaw. It was a voice we hadn’t seen in American cinema.
DD: How did you find your character?
AW: First, you start naked. If it requires you to run out naked, you do it.
DD: McQueen has nothing but good things to say about you.
AW: Back at him. He is dangerous and brave. You don’t half step when someone lives fully. He’s one of the ones you trust.