Brad Pitt Talks About Festival Hit ’12 Years a Slave’

Brad Pitt may be one of Hollywood’s recognizable faces but it’s his work off-camera that’s keeping his career ticking at an alarming rate.

“12 Years a Slave,” the 19th century drama from director Steve McQueen, has garnered Oscar buzz after receiving not one but two standing ovations in less than a week, the latest at the Toronto Film Festival on Friday.

“It’s pretty special,” Brad Pitt said of the strong reaction to the drama, which the actor not only co-starred in but also produced through his Plan B banner.

“It’s one of those rare moments where story, performance and storytelling come together at the level,” he added from the Variety Studio. “We’re very proud of it.”

Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave” is based on the novel by John Ridley and tells the true story of Solomon Northrop, a free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the 1840s.

“Ultimately what it’s reminding us is our responsibility to take care of each other,” he said of the film’s civil themes.

Producer Jeremy Kleiner, co-president of Plan B, initially reached out to McQueen, along with Pitt and Plan B’s Dede Gardner, after the director’s first feature “Hunger” and asked him what he’d like to do next.

“The fact that there hadn’t been more films about slavery didn’t make sense for him,” Kleiner said, which led to McQueen’s wife stumbling upon the book.

“Our early mandate was to work with directors and storytellers we found complex and (who) might need a little help getting over the hill,” Pitt said of his company.

Gardner, who helped oversee production on the shoot, said the goal for Plan B and Fox Searchlight was always simple: to make it bullet-proof.

“From the beginning the idea was to get the movie far enough down the field to make it undeniable, to get it to a point where no one could poke holes in it,” she said.

So far, they’ve managed to do just that.

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Brad Pitt On ’12 Years A Slave’: Director Steve McQueen Asked ‘Why Aren’t There More Films About Slavery?’

TORONTO — The upcoming film “12 Years a Slave” is a harrowing look at slavery, but its stars, including Brad Pitt, say it’s a subject that needs to be explored more on the big screen.

Pitt, whose Plan B company produced the film about a free man sold into slavery, was at its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival. Pitt said he was first drawn to the film because of its British director, Steve McQueen, known for such films as “Hunger” and “Shame.”

“We started talking to him about what he most wanted to do next and he asked the question, asked the question that no American asked, why aren’t there more films about slavery?” Pitt recalled on Friday night. “And that’s what he wanted to do. And that’s where it started and that’s what led us here tonight.”

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• x063 September 06 – Twelve Years a Slave – Toronto, Canada.
• x001 September 06 – Twelve Years a Slave (Portrait) – Toronto, Canada. Thanks Gabriella.

Brad Pitt a surprise guest at Telluride Film Festival

With his hair hanging below his shoulder, Brad Pitt sat on the stage of the Palm Theater after the screening of “12 Years a Slave.” There had been low-register buzz earlier in the day that Pitt, whose company Plan B produced the searing drama, would be in the mountain town for the world premiere. Set to open in the fall, “12 Years a Slave” is based on the true story of Solomon Northup, a free black man who in 1843 was kidnapped while traveling and sold into slavery.

“First of all, I’ve seen this film a couple of times now and I find it a little difficult to speak afterwards,” said Pitt. “It might be more productive if we just had a group walk around the block.” Nearby sat McQueen and his astounding cast: Northup’s portrayer Chiwetel Ejifor; Michael Fassbender, who plays slave owner Edwin Epps; and Lupita Nyong’o, making a searing debut as Patsey.
Pitt is right. McQueen, a celebrated British artist turned filmmaker, has made a film that is as brilliantly crafted as it is relentless in depicting slavery.

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• x006 August 30 – Twelve Years a Slave (Q&A) – Telluride, CO.
• x009 August 31 – Twelve Years a Slave (Q&A) – Telluride, CO.
• x005 August 31 – Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Party) – Telluride, CO.