December 25, 2013

If you lived in Italy and stubbornly refused to read movie reviews, that might be the impression formed by a quick glimpse at the movie’s poster. The artwork features the oversized head of Brad Pitt, while Chiwetel Ejiofor’s running Solomon Northup — the primary visual in the American marketing campaign — is shoved into a lower corner. Another similar poster makes use of Michael Fassbender’s face in the same way as Pitt’s. (It would be even more difficult to conjure up a log-line for 12 Years that tells the story from his despicable character’s point of view.)

Major movie stars like Pitt are especially crucial to the selling of Hollywood movies in international markets, but the main character of Steve McQueen’s movie is undoubtedly Ejiofor’s Solomon, whose ordeal of being kidnapped and trafficked into Southern slavery is the sole heart-wrenching narrative. Fassbender plays one of Solomon’s cruel taskmasters, and Pitt, who produced the film, has an extremely minor — but crucial — role as a sympathetic Canadian carpenter who frowns upon the Southern system of slavery. Pitt might sell better than Ejiofor, but the poster’s misrepresentation is especially egregious considering the nature of the tale.

After the posters were noted by some bloggers, including Carefree Black Girl, Summit Entertainment told Variety that those posters were unauthorized and it planned to recall them immediately. “The 12 Years a Slave theatrical posters featuring Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender that were recently released in Italy were unauthorized and were not approved by any of the producers or licensors of the film,” the company said in a statement. “Summit Entertainment, acting as exclusive sales agent for the licensors, is investigating and taking immediate action to stop the distribution of any unauthorized posters and to have those posters currently in the marketplace recalled.”

December 15, 2013

Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender and Chiwetel Ejiofor star in this slavery biopic that follows the true story of Solomon Northup, a black man born free who is tricked into slavery.

Los Angeles – The film 12 Years a Slave directed by Steve McQueen topped nominations for the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) gongs announced on Wednesday, as Hollywood’s annual awards season gets into gear.
The movie scored four nominations, followed by three each for August: Osage County, Dallas Buyers Club and Lee Daniels’ The Butler, while on the TV front cult series Breaking Bad leads the race.

12 Years a Slave tells the story of Solomon Northup, a black man in 19th century New York state who is abducted and sold into slavery to work in the cotton fields.

Its nominations include for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture – the SAG equivalent of best picture Oscar – as well as nods for best actor for Chiwetel Ejiofor, best supporting actress for Lupita Nyong’o and best supporting actor for Michael Fassbender.
The other best film nominees are American Hustle, August: Osage County, Dallas Buyers Club, and Lee Daniels’ The Butler.

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October 18, 2013

But what about the people who actually made the film? Did they find it odd that Brad Pitt gave himself the role of practically the only decent white man in the entire film?

“Gave!?” asked Ejiofor, laughing, when I posed the question while interviewing him for a profile. “Yeah, I think everything else was pretty [much] taken. But, you know, without him, there wouldn’t be a film. He was just so instrumental in making this film happen. He’s such a champion of filmmakers and the things that he believes in and can put his weight behind.” Plus, he added, Pitt agreeing to take a role in the film is likely what allowed director Steve McQueen to, among other things, cast Ejiofor, who doesn’t yet have Pitt’s marquee name. “I don’t know what the full machinations are, but I imagine that him being around and lending that kind of support and weight to something is very freeing for [financiers]. They think, Okay, well, we can give the director some latitude.”

Pitt, likewise, defended his appearance when we spoke on the phone, calling it merely, “a cameo in support of the film.” Was playing the sympathetic savior at the end his choice or McQueen’s? “It helped get the thing done,” he said. “I sit in a very fortunate position where I can help push things over the edge with difficult stories, and this was one of those instances. So it’s merely for that, not so much that I was certainly needed performance-wise.” In other words, someone was going to have to play that part, and it might as well be one of the biggest movie stars in the world. And as to why he’s the only white person the audience can remotely root for in the film, he said, laughing, “Well, it’s slavery. It’s a slavery period [piece], so you know … ”


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October 16, 2013

“It’s one of those few films that … cuts to the base of our humanity,” Pitt told Ann Curry on TODAY on Wednesday. “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.”

“It’s why I got into film in the first place,” Pitt said.

Pitt told Curry that his role is small — he’s onscreen for about eight minutes — but putting himself in the forefront was never his goal.

“I’m there to support the story,” he said. “The main performances are Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong’o, (Michael) Fassbender. These are such demanding parts. These guys had to keep themselves in just this perpetual state of angst and foreboding and longing. And they did it.”

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October 16, 2013

For Pitt, making “12 Years” was the very definition of what movies are for. “It’s one of those few films that cuts to the base of our humanity,” he said.

But “12 Years” features some disturbing imagery, and as the actor explained, he’s not about to show it to his youngest children (he has six with Angelina Jolie). “Maybe my eldest I would, right now,” he said. “I’d rather for the others to get a little bit older and understand the dynamics of the world a little more.”

That kind of subtle understanding is a wisdom that has come with age, and — fans, brace yourself — Pitt is about to turn 50 in December.

“I haven’t minded a bit,” he said about approaching AARP age. “I have no complaints.”

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You can also watch another preview here:

Full interview will be aired today.

October 10, 2013

For Michael Fassbender, meeting and working with Brad Pitt on 2009’s Inglourious Basterds was a life-changing experience.

Brad is a wonderful human being who has a generous soul,” Fassbender, 36, told PEOPLE at Wednesday’s Cinema Society and Emporio Armani screening of his new film The Counselor in New York. “I have a lot of reasons to thank him. He has always been a real champion for me.

Brad not only supported me, but he also encouraged and helped other young talent. He is one of those guys that we need in the industry.

Now that the two hunks have become close professional colleagues, is there a possible bromance brewing between them?

I don’t know about that, because he never returns my phone calls or emails,” Fassbender joked. “I’ve been following him ever since. I’m trying to get involved in any film he’s doing so I can be with him!

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