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Casting for McQueen’s Twelve Years a Slave

Indiewire’s Tambay Obenson posted a confirmation that Adepero Oduye will play Eliza and Storm Reid will play her daughter Emily in Steve McQueen’s next film, Twelve Years a Slave, which also stars Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Chiwetel Ejifor and Quvenzhané Wallis.

If you’re keeping up with our book club, you will be reading about this era, just before the Civil War, when public tolerance for slavery was waining but slaves were still prosecuted for escaping, even when they escaped to free states. Here is the wikipedia plot:

Twelve Years a Slave (1853; sub-title: Narrative of Solomon Northup, a citizen of New-York, kidnapped in Washington city in 1841, and rescued in 1853, from a cotton plantation near the Red River in Louisiana), by Solomon Northup as told to David Wilson, is a memoir of a black man who was born free in New York state but kidnapped, sold into slavery and kept in bondage for 12 years in Louisiana before the American Civil War. He provided details of slave markets in Washington, DC, as well as describing at length cotton cultivation on major plantations in Louisiana. Published soon after Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Northup’s book sold 30,000 copies and was considered a bestseller. It went through several editions in the nineteenth century.

One of the most compelling stories like this, which would make a great movie if someone was ever to take it on, involves a woman who is brought to a free state by her master and natural father. She escapes, is captured, tried and found guilty and is then sent back to being a slave. But the case itself, with Salmon Chase as the defense attorney, was notable and celebrated.

McQueen is a standout filmmaker, even if the awards community couldn’t be bothered to nominate Shame for anything. He’ll be recognized one day.