Michael Fassbender, who plays a slave owner in the historical drama 12 Years a Slave, said he wanted to find the humanity in his character.
“He’s a human being, so I approached him with a very human touch. I tried to find his voice first. I worked with a lot of different tapes and our dialect coach helped me out a lot,” the 36-year-old told Flicks & Bits.
“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 added. “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?’”
Fassbender also said that his character tried to suppress his love for Patsey by beating her, and that there was a “really amazing humanity” in that effort.
“So that was my in — the love for Patsey and how he was processing that,” he said. “I think I see Epps as a representative of the time, all the ugliness and despicable is culminated into this character.”
12 Years A Slave recently won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival. Director Steve McQueen was enthusiastic about the award, which is given to the feature-length film with the highest ratings from TIFF attendees.
“At a festival that has shown so many brilliant films, I cannot be more thrilled to receive this award,” he said. “I am deeply grateful to all the people who have worked on this film, and that their amazing work has been recognized.”
12 Years A Slave stars Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup, a free black man who is kidnapped and sold into slavery. The film also stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Brad Pitt, Alfre Woodard, Quvenzhané Wallis, and Sarah Paulson. The film opens October 18.