Pop Culture

Brad Pitt: New film shows 'utter horror' of slavery

Brad Pitt is more than passionate about his new movie, "12 Years a Slave," which opens Friday — he knows it will have a real impact on viewers.

Pitt plays a Canadian carpenter in the film, which tells the true story of Solomon Northup, a free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841.

"It's one of those few films that ... cuts to the base of our humanity," Pitt told Ann Curry on TODAY on Wednesday. "And it was not until I saw Solomon Northup's story that I fully, fully (grasped) the utter horror of losing your freedom or denying another one their freedom, taking their freedom, splitting their family apart."

"It's why I got into film in the first place," Pitt said.

Pitt told Curry that his role is small — he's onscreen for about eight minutes — but putting himself in the forefront was never his goal. 

"I'm there to support the story," he said. "The main performances are Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong'o, (Michael) Fassbender. These are such demanding parts. These guys had to keep themselves in just this perpetual state of angst and foreboding and longing. And they did it."

Pitt said he knows that the film will have a powerful and lasting impact on those who see it.

"I'm a moviegoer," Pitt said. "That was a place that was a big escape for me, to open my eyes up to the world when I was a little, little kid. I loved going to see films. So I think of it from that side of it, and I know the impact of this film."

As far as Pitt's own children — he has six with partner Angelina Jolie — he says they should see it, when they've reached appropriate ages.

"Maybe my eldest (could see it) right now," Pitt told Curry, referring to his 12-year-old son, Maddox. "(I'd rather wait) for the others to get a little bit older and understand the dynamics of the world a little more."

Curry also asked Pitt how he feels about his approaching 50th birthday, which is Dec. 18. "I have no complaints," Pitt said. "We'll see when I get a little (closer). I'm busy right now, so I haven't thought about it."