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Michael Fassbender discusses slave owner role in Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave


17 September 2013

Sought after actor Michael Fassbender who currently has X-Men: Days of Future Past in post production, has opened up about his role of slave owner in the upcoming drama 12 Years a Slave from filmmaker Steve McQueen.

Set in 1841, 12 Years a Slave sees Chiwetel Ejiofor as a free African-American man who is illegally sold into slavery and talking to Flicks and Bits, Fassbender explained how he tackled portraying a villainous slave owner "He's a human being, so I approached him with a very human touch," he recalled. "I tried to find his voice first. I worked with a lot of different tapes and our dialect coach helped me out a lot.

It was about finding the human being in [my character] Epps, because obviously what he does is pretty terrible, but... I don't know, there's something in there where I feel a little sorry for him. He's a victim of the time as well, in a way. He's in love with Patsey (Lupita Nyong'o) and he can't deal with it, he thinks, 'How can I be in love with a slave?'

So he sets about suppressing her and beating her to try to beat it out of himself. So I thought that there was a really amazing humanity in that alone. So that was my in - the love for Patsey and how he was processing that. I think I see Epps as a representative of the time, all the ugliness and despicable is culminated into this character."

Speaking about reuniting with his Shame director, Fassbender added "It's just an incredibly special experience working with Steve.

From the beginning of my career I've been seeking, looking for somebody like Steve - somebody who will bring the best out of you and take you to the limit of yourself and then beyond it, and then maintain that level of beyond the limit… if that makes sense.

The focus on set is incredible, and not just with the cast but with the entire crew. There's just this sort of absolute do or die philosophy on set. It's just amazing, one of the many great things about Steve is that he allows you to believe in your instincts, and so whatever choice you make is the right choice, because you're in the right moment."

12 Years a Slave opens on January 24 and features Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Sarah Paulson, Paul Dano, Garret Dillahunt, Quvenzhane Wallis, Alfre Woodard and Marc Macaulay.

Michael Fassbender Photos

12 YEARS A SLAVE OPENS ON JANUARY 24