Brad Pitt, Hollywood’s Godfather
Brad Pitt in Toronto on Sept. 6. (Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
Brad Pitt is something of a Hollywood do-gooder. From his political causes to his charity projects, the A-list star and producer has an impulse to create good work – an attitude clearly seen in the upcoming historical drama "12 Years A Slave." At the film’s Sept. 6 showing at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, the 49-year-old described himself as something of a “godfather” working behind the scenes.
“It’s my responsibility as [a] godfather to make the production as good as it can be, to the best of my knowledge,” Pitt told reporters at the Princess of Wales Theatre. “You’re in the background, clearing the way so the artist can do his thing.”
“12 Years a Slave” tells the true story of Solomon Northrup, a free African-American who is kidnapped while on a trip to Washington, D.C. and spends the next 12 years in slavery. Boasting an all-star cast including Chiwetel Ejiofor (as Northrup), Michael Fassbender, Alfre Woodard, Paul Dano, and Sarah Paulson, the film is directed by acclaimed filmmaker Steve McQueen ("Shame").
But even with all of those names attached, Pitt knew he needed to bring more to the table to attract investors. That was one of the reasons he agreed to a small cameo, playing a Canadian carpenter named Samuel Bass.
“It’s difficult material to get financing for… It doesn’t necessarily sound like a profitable idea,” Brad Pitt said of “12 Years.” “Our idea was to get as much of the cast together as we could and as much of the crew, so [the investors] could feel it and see what shape it would be.”
Also on the TIFF red carpet on Friday, the film’s main star praised Pitt for backing the film. “Brad being on this film made it happen,” Ejiofor said. “Him producing the film and working with the film the way that he did allowed us to be here tonight.”
Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender in "12 Years a Slave." (Photo by Fox Searchlight Pictures)
There’s already plenty of Oscar hype surrounding the film and Ejiofor, who has been working steadily in British and Hollywood films since the 1990s. Many believe “12 Years” will be a breakout role, and the 36-year-old actor’s elation on the red carpet was palpable. “I feel great, I feel very excited,” Ejiofor told reporters. “I’m thrilled to begin the process of getting the film out there and people seeing it. It’s a beautiful film. I’m so proud of this. I’m thrilled to be here.”