01/10/2014 11:00 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Steve McQueen And Henry Louis Gates Jr. Talk '12 Years A Slave'

Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

When the creators of a drama that would bring Solomon Northup’s 12 Years a Slave to the big screen needed a historical consultant, Henry Louis Gates Jr., who edited a recent edition of the memoir, was a natural choice.

Gates, a Harvard history scholar, producer of PBS’s African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross and editor-in-chief of The Root, read the script and offered notes on the accuracy of the film’s unflinching depiction of the story of a man who was sold into slavery in 1841 and forced to work on a Louisiana plantation.

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