Ejiofor pushed to limit in filming
Chiwetel Ejiofor has said the harsh filming conditions for 12 Years A Slave helped him to connect with his character.
Dancing On The Edge star Chiwetel plays Solomon Northup, a free man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in Louisiana and later wrote a book about his experiences which the film is based on.
The actor had studied the memoir, visited plantations and even learned to play the violin like Solomon for his starring role, but said he hadn't been prepared for the heat in Louisiana. .
He said: "You're there on the first day and it's 108 degrees and you're picking cotton. How is that accomplishable? I don't know how to do this without delirium setting in. Then you realise: Now we're in it. This is what this is. It is a delirium. It is down the rabbit hole."
In the film directed by Steve McQueen, Chiwetel shows Solomon's brutal treatment including being hung by his neck from a noose all day, forced to tiptoe to stay alive.
He added: "If you don't get inside that experience of being there all day, out in the sun, hung by your neck, just barely able to stay alive, then you don't know the depth this man is prepared to go to in order to keep himself alive. Then again, you don't understand Solomon."
Chiwetel said at one point during filming he would lie on the floor between takes rather than walk 10 feet to a bench to sit down because he was so exhausted.
"I felt enriched by being in Solomon's shoes for so long. Going to that place was so fascinating and there was such a strength and dignity and duty to Solomon and his soul and his survival instinct that I felt there was as much to take away from it that was redemptive as there was that was harsh or difficult," he said.