Chiwetel Ejiofor is nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of Solomon Northup, a free man who was sold into slavery, in "12 Years a Slave."
Ejiofor says the "detail and the humility and the poetry," in Northrup's autobiography inspired his performance. While reading the script for the first time, Ejiofor says he couldn't believe he hadn't heard Northrup's story before.
The film's director, Steve McQueen, felt it was important to bring Northrup's story to light. McQueen told The New York Times recently, "I made this film because I wanted to visualize a time in history that hadn't been visualized that way. I wanted to see the lash on someone's back. I wanted to see the aftermath of that psychological and physical. I feel sometimes people take slavery very lightly, to be honest."
Ejiofor agrees McQueen accomplished that. "I think it was that combination," he says in the above video from "Oprah's Next Chapter." "That combination of the physical and the psychological is such an interesting part of the film and part of the book … Solomon Northrup is a man who sort of, in one sense, believes in the beginning of the film that he is trying to regain his freedom. But he comes to realize, in a way, that actually this is all a struggle for his mind."
"To keep his sanity," Oprah says.
"What you do so brilliantly is you allow us in to feel and experience that through Solomon Northrup," she tells Ejiofor. "You really do."