In England, there's no acknowledgement the invention of slavery came from Britain.
There's a catharsis in cutting down trees. But there's absolutely none of that in picking cotton. It's maddening! It's fiddly, and it pricks your fingers, and it's something that's a very hard skill if you have no alacrity for it.
David Mamet was great to work with. He was everything that I thought he would be as a director. He's incredibly articulate, an easy collaborator. Extraordinarily knowledgeable about film and writing.
Solomon Northup is one of the most remarkable people I've ever encountered in my life; one of the most amazing stories I have ever been in any kind of contact with. To not tell that story would have been disgraceful, in my opinion.
I loved reading when I was young. I was just completely taken by stories. And I remember taking that into English literature at school and taking that into Shakespeare and finding that opened up a whole world of self-expression to me that I didn't have access to previously.
I feel that I don't have to wait around for good scripts anymore, that I can get things moving more quickly. I can ring up directors I like and say I'm keen to work with them, which is pretty great.
The idea of making a film - a film that I had certainly never seen before - about the slave experience was a huge responsibility. It's a project that requires a wider understanding of the geopolitical nature of the slave trade, of historical and modern-day racism.
I've always been a believer in research. It's great to have an instinctual human reaction to a character, too, of course, but it has to be countered with knowledge and understanding.
I wanted to be an actor ever since I got on stage for the first time, aged 13. Before that, I thought I might follow in the medical footsteps of my parents: my father was a doctor, my mother a pharmacist.
Normally, if you're lucky, the idea of a film you have in your head is more or less what you get back when you see it after the editing and the whole post-production process.
I still have to say that I did 'Dirty Pretty Things' 11 years ago. That was a very sudden shift in my life and my relationship to my work, and it didn't feel it was impossible to make a film like that.
I became an actor by doing school plays and youth theaters, and then National Youth Theatre of Great Britain. And then I did study at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. For me that was a good way to enter the field, to work in the theater.
The Second World War simplified things like race, and people came down on very clear lines.
I didn't know anything about '12 Years a Slave.' Not the book, not Solomon Northup, which I was quite shocked by, once I'd read it, that it wasn't a seminal text. I think it deserves to be.
When I first had my eyebrows waxed, I was pretty disturbed.
It's a strange thing, but you get this click in your brain; the wonderful feeling that the entirety of a character is suddenly available and accessible to you.