Chiwetel Efiofor of "12 Years a Slave"

Chiwetel Efiofor of “12 Years a Slave”

*The African American actors in Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” spoke often about the emotional toll of shooting the slavery scenes on real Southern plantations.

In the upcoming “12 Years a Slave,” the true story of a free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery, star Chiwetel Ejiofor says he was also overcome at times while filming plantation scenes in New Orleans – even though he is a British born actor.

“Everyone in the African diaspora is connected to this event,” Ejiofor explained at a recent junket for the film in New York. “So telling the story felt like a responsibility. The wider aspects of the story, what it says about human respect and human dignity is such an international idea.”


Ejiofor may not have family roots in American slavery, but the 36-year-old was born to Nigerian parents who belonged to the Igbo ethnic group. Below, he recalls a moment during a tour of Savannah, Ga. where the mention of Igbo in relation to something on the tour stopped him cold.

Director Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave,” based on Solomon Northup’s 1853 autobiography, arrives in theaters on Oct. 18. The cast includes Alfre Woodard, Quevanzhane Wallis, Lupita Nyong’oMichael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Brad Pitt and  Paul Dano.

Watch the trailer below.