Chiwetel Ejiofor

  • Aired:  10/24/13
  •  | Views: 22,470

Chiwetel Ejiofor discusses his movie "12 Years a Slave" and explains why British people are well equipped to tell an authentic tale of American slavery. (6:50)

>> Jon: WELCOME BACK, MYGUEST TONIGHT THE STAR OF

THE NEW FILM 12 YEARS ASLAVE.

>> WE TRAVELING.

>> SURVIVAL IS NOT ABOUT CERTAINDEATH. IT'S ABOUT

KEEPING YOUR HEAD DOWN.

>> DAYS AGO I WASWITH MY FAMILY. NOW YOU TELL

ME ALL THAT'S LOST?

THAT'S THE WAY TOSURVIVE.

I DON'T WANT TO SURVIVE.

I WANT TO LIVE.

>> Jon: PLEASE WELCOMECHIWETEL EIJOFOR.

(APPLAUSE)COME ON!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)>> Jon: FIRST OF ALL, THANK

YOU SO MUCH FOR BEING HERE.

>> THANK YOU SO MUCH FORHAVING ME.

>> Jon: WAIT A SECOND.

THIS IS ONE OF THOSEPERFORMANCES IN AN ACTOR'S

CAREER THAT IS-- CAN BE LIFECHANGING.

IT'S SO POWERFUL AND SOMAGNETIC.

AND I KNOW YOU ARE A HUMBLEMAN AND PROBABLY TOUGH TO

TAKE SOME OF THATCOMPLIMENT.

BUT DO YOU KNOW WHEN YOU AREPRODUCING THIS PERFORMANCE,

DOES IT FEEL SPECIAL AT THETIME?

DO YOU HAVE A SENSE THATSOMETHING KIND OF WONDEROUS

IS HAPPENING?

>> WELL, I MEAN, YOU KNOW INTHIS PROJECT YOU ARE

JUST-- I WAS TRYING TO GETAS CLOSE TO SOLOMON AS I COULD.

I THINK I READ THE SCRIPT.

I KNEW WORKING WITH STEVEMcQUEEN WOULD BE QUITE AN

EXPERIENCE. I LOVED HIS WORK.

WHAT A TREMENDOUSFILMMAKER.

>> I THINK HE IS EXCEPTIONALAND HE WAS IN THIS.

AND YOU SORT OF IN THEEND ARE TRYING TO TELL THE

STORY, THE STORY OF SOLOMONNORTHROP

WAS SO AMAZING TO ME.

AND I'D NEVER HEARD A STORYLIKE IT I HAD NEVER SEEN A

FILM LIKE IT.

I HAD NEVER BEEN-- YOU KNOW,SOMETHING THAT IS SO INSIDE

THIS EXPERIENCE, INSIDE THESLAVE EXPERIENCE IN THIS WAY.

SO MOVING TO ME.

SO DAY-TO-DAY I GUESS IF YOUARE HOPING ANYTHING, YOU ARE

HOPING IN THE END IT'S GOINGTO WORK OUT.

BUT YOU ARE, I SUPPOSEYOU'RE JUST TRYING TO BE

WITHIN IT.

AND BE-- PRESENT.

>> AND I IMAGINE STEVE THEDIRECTOR HAS TO PUSH YOU TO

GO TO CERTAIN PLACES IN YOURMIND AND IN YOUR HEART THAT

ARE IMPOSSIBLE TO PROBABLYPLACE YOURSELF INTO.

BUT THE RANGE OF EMOTION,THE TRIALS AND TRIBLATIONS

THAT THIS SOLOMON, WHO IS AREAL INDIVIDUAL,

THIS IS BASED ON HIS REALDIARY OF THIS EXPERIENCE.

>> YEAH.

>> TO GO TO THOSE PLACES.

IT MUST CHANGE YOU IN SOMEWAY.

>> WELL, STEVE SORT OFALLOWS IT TO HAPPEN, YOU

KNOW.

HE KIND OF JUST CREATES ASET WHERE EVERY PERSON, THE

CAST, THE CREW, THEY ALLFEEL, THERE IS A LOT OF LOVE

ON THAT SET.

IT'S LIKE A FAMILY.

AND WE WERE ALL THERE TO TRYAND TELL THE STORY AS BEST

WE COULD.

AND HE CREATES ANENVIRONMENT WHERE PEOPLE

WANT TO PUSH.

YOU KNOW, EVERYBODY WANTS TOGIVE 100 PERCENT TO ANYTHING,

YOU KNOW, THAT'S WHY WE DOIT.

BUT IT'S GREAT TO HAVE SOMEBODY

THAT KIND OF ENCOURAGES THATAS WELL, WHO ARTICULATES

THAT IN A WAY AND STEVEDOES.

AND THAT'S WHY I THINKEVERYBODY IN THIS CAST WAS,

AND EVERYBODY ON THE CREWWAS JUST SO DETERMINED TO

TELL THE STORY IN THE BESTWAY WE COULD.

>> Jon: INTERESTING TOO, YOUKNOW.

HE'S OBVIOUSLY A DIRECTORFROM ENGLAND.

ARE YOU AN ACTOR FROMENGLAND.

IT ALMOST-- I WONDER IF, YOUKNOW, PEOPLE ARE SAYING IT

IS THE MOST AUTHENTICPORTRAYAL OF AMERICAN

SLAVERY THAT'S BEEN FILMED.

AND YET MAYBE IT TOOK ACOUPLE OF PEOPLE FROM

ENGLAND TO BE ABLE TO DO ITBECAUSE FOR US, WE WOULD BE

LIKE MAYBE WE MIGHT WANT TOCHANGE THIS ONE LITTLE THING

RIGHT HERE.

WE LOOK KIND OF LIKE ASSESRIGHT HERE.

WAS THERE A NONOWNERSHIP OFIT IN TERMS OF IT BEING THE

HISTORY OF YOUR COUNTRY THATHELPED ALLOW YOU TO GO TO

THE PLACES YOU HAD TO GO TO?

>> THAT'S A GOOD QUESTION.

I THINK IN THE END WE WERETALKING ABOUT SOMETHING THAT

WAS, MY FIRST INTERACTIONWITH SLAVERY WHEN I WAS

GROWING UP THE WHOLEUNDERSTANDING OF IT WAS

ALWAYS INTERNATIONAL.

YOU KNOW, BY DEFINITION ITWAS INTERNATIONAL.

AND BOTH PEOPLE FROM AFRICA,INVOLVED AN INTERNATIONAL

KIND OF CONCEPT.

SO I ALWAYS CAME AT IT FROMTHAT ANGLE.

MY FAMILY'S FROM NIGERIA ANDI, AND THAT IS WHERE, YOU

KNOW, HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDSOF PEOPLE WERE TAKEN

FROM AND SO I ALWAYS HADTHAT IN MY MIND, AND GROWING

UP IN BRITAIN IN THE WESTINDIE SLAVE TRADE AND HOW

DEVASTATING THAT WAS.

SO THERE WAS SOMETHING ABOUTIT I THINK THAT WE ALL FELT

WAS ABOUT A STORY THATWAS-- THAT INVOLVED

EVERYBODY.

THAT WAS WIDER THAN ANY KINDOF NATIONALITY IN A SENSE.

YOU KNOW THAT WE WERETALKING ABOUT SOMETHING THAT

WAS ABOUT HUMAN DIGNITY.

AND HUMAN RESPECT.

AND WHAT THOSE THINGS IN THEEND REALLY MEAN AND HOW WE

ENGAGE WITH THAT.

AND OF COURSE AMERICAN, ANDTHIS IS A VERY SPECIFICALLY

AMERICAN STORY, IN THE FACTTHAT IT TAKES PLACE IN

LOUISIANA.

BUT IT ALSO HAD THIS KIND OF,YOU KNOW, THIS SORT OF WIDER

IMPLICATION AND IT FELTCORRECT TO TELL THE STORY,

IT TOOK A SLIGHTLY, ANELEMENT OF INTERNATIONAL.

>> Jon: INTERNATIONAL.

>> AND WHAT WAS CAPTURED SOBEAUTIFULLY, I THINK BY YOU,

THE CAST, THE FILMMAKER, ISTHIS IDEA OF THE FRAGILITY

OF FREEDOM.

THIS GENTLEMAN SOLOMON, THEWONDERFUL MUSICIAN WITH HIS

WONDERFUL FAMILY AND IN AMINUTE IT'S GONE.

AND HE IS SUDDENLY CAST INTOTHIS STRANGE LIMBO.

AND THE FRAGILITY OF IT ISALMOST PART OF WHAT MAKES IT

AS HEARTBREAKING AS IT IS.

>> I THINK THAT'S TRUE.

I REMEMBER WHEN I READ THEBOOK THE FIRST TIME IT WAS

ALMOST AS IF I HAD JUST HADTHIS, YOU KNOW, I STARTED

READING IT AS KIND OF ANOBJECTIVE PIECE.

BUT THEN I SLIPPED DOWN THERABBIT HOLE AND I WAS SO

IMMERSED IN THE EXPERIENCE.

AND I FELT LIKE THIS ISSOMETHING THAT CAN CONNECT

TO ABSOLUTELY ANYBODY.

ANYBODY RECOGNIZESTHEMSELVES IN SOLOMON, AND

WHAT HIS JOURNEY IS AND THESTRUGGLES THAT WE HAVE.

AND HOW WE DEAL WITH OURLIVES IN SOME WAYS.

AND WHAT WE CARE ABOUT.

AND THAT'S WHY IT'S A FILMABOUT LOVE IN THE END.

>> Jon: WELL, I'M TELLINGYOU MAN, THE HUMANITY THAT

YOU BRING TO THE ROLE, ANDTHE JUST NUANCES AND THE

LAYERING THAT YOU BRING TOIT IS JUST SLIGHTLY

MAGNIFICENT.

IT JUST IS I CAN'TCONGRATULATE YOU ENOUGH.

IT REALLY IS A BEAUTIFULLYMOVING FILM AND YOUR WORK IN

IT AS WELLAND THANK YOU FOR BEING

HERE.

>> THANK YOU.

>> Jon: WE APPRECIATE IT.

12 YEARS A SLAVE.

IN THE THEATRES NOW.

GO SEE IT.

Loading...