Posted by | Ray Cornelius

British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor (CHOO-it-tell EDGE-ee-oh-for) was born to play Solomon Northup in this year’s blockbuster hit, 12 Years a Slave.  Like all the other great actors before him that starred in biopics—Jamie Foxx, Denzel Washington, Angela Bassett, and Diana Ross—Ejiofor truly embodied the spirit and character of Northup, giving what some film critics are calling the year’s greatest performance.

However, as much as audiences enjoyed Ejiofor’s on-screen, the 20-year acting veteran told Variety  he wasn’t so convinced he could pull it off after reading the script for the first time.

variety“You can read a script sometimes and see yourself in it. This wasn’t like that. This was the first time I’d ever read a story that was from inside the slave experience. And I felt the responsibility and the weight and the significance of that. So you have that moment of self-doubt where you question if you’re the person to do it,”  says the 36-year-old-actor.

Ejiofor goes on to explain to Variety  that it wasn’t until after he read the script for a second time that he realized he should audition.

“In the end, I realized I didn’t have to worry about telling the history of slavery, my job was to tell his story. So I went back to Steve[McQueen] and said, ‘I’d like to try.’”

It’s a good thing that Ejiofor decided to audition considering all of the accolades he’s received for his performance including Golden Globe and SAG nominations. We’re hoping he scores an Oscar nod come January.  Interestingly enough, 12 Years  director Steve McQueen didn’t have anyone else in mind to play Northup and claims that Ejiofor was his first and only choice.

“He had to be this presence to carry us through this territory of inhumanity,” says the filmmaker. “I knew he was the man to do it. I don’t know if he knew he was the man to do it, but I did,”  said McQueen.

Click here to read Ejiofor’s entire interview with Variety  and check out his photos below:



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