Brad Pitt's role in "12 Years a Slave" isn't very big, but it is key — and as the actor tells Ann Curry in an interview set to air Wednesday on TODAY, the film was of enormous importance to him: "It's why I got into film in the first place."
"12 Years" is a true story, based on Solomon Northup's personal account of being a free man in New York in pre-Civil War days who is then kidnapped and sold into slavery. Pitt was a producer on the film, and took a role as a Canadian who is working on the plantation where Northup ends up.
For Pitt, making "12 Years" was the very definition of what movies are for. "It's one of those few films that cuts to the base of our humanity," he said.
But "12 Years" features some disturbing imagery, and as the actor explained, he's not about to show it to his youngest children (he has six with Angelina Jolie). "Maybe my eldest I would, right now," he said. "I'd rather for the others to get a little bit older and understand the dynamics of the world a little more."
That kind of subtle understanding is a wisdom that has come with age, and — fans, brace yourself — Pitt is about to turn 50 in December.
"I haven't minded a bit," he said about approaching AARP age. "I have no complaints."
Look for the full interview on TODAY on Oct. 16.