The marketing campaign for this summer's big-budget zombie extravaganza "World War Z" was all about showcasing Brad Pitt and his heroic hair. But blink and you might miss him in the trailer for his new film, "12 Years a Slave."
Pitt helped produce the film, which is directed by Steve McQueen, and takes on a small supporting role as well, though the A-lister admirably puts the story first as he's barely present in the first look at the historical drama. In fact, the first time we see Pitt is at a distance, followed by a shot of the back of his head — from there, he only makes two other brief appearances.
"12 Years a Slave" tells the true story of Solomon Northup (the always-excellent Chiwetel Ejiofor, who looks to be on his way towards an Oscar nomination), a carpenter, violinist and husband/father who lived life as a well-respected — and, more importantly, free — man in New York City before the American Civil War. His life takes a bafflingly tragic turn for the worst when he's kidnapped and sold as a slave, where he endures a dozen years under the whip of several cruel masters who try to break his spirit.
"12 Years" reunites McQueen with Michael Fassbender, who plays Edwin Epps, Northup's particularly God-fearing master who justifies his cruelty with Bible passages: "And that servant who don't obey his lord shall be beaten with many strikes. That's Scripture," he says. Epps looks to be the main source of Northup's torment through the years, though the trailer also features a scene where the gentleman turned slave is slapped in the face by the almost mockingly named Theophilus Freeman, played by Paul Giamatti.
A McQueen/Fassbender team-up is always intriguing, as they've previously stirred up controversy (and critical acclaim) with 2011's "Shame" (ultimately a bunch of hooey about the supposed plight of a succesful, handsome sex addict, though Fassbender's incredible performance is definitely something to see) and the 2008 prison drama, "Hunger." However, "12 Years a Slave" looks like Ejiofor's show all the way, and he's got an excellent supporting cast backing him up — Pitt, Fassbender and Giamatti are joined by Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano and Alfre Woodard, to name a few.
Oddly enough, "12 Years a Slave" isn't being released during prime Oscar baiting time, but rather will hit theaters in a limited release on October 18. Stay tuned, as we have a feeling Fox Searchlight may reschedule it for December.
Watch the theatrical trailer for "12 Years A Slave":