Michael Fassbender probably wouldn't be surprised to learn that audible sobbing has been heard at screenings of 12 Years a Slave, including from the audience at the drama's premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.
The German-born actor, in his third collaboration with director Steve McQueen, admits that the film is tough to watch—some parts more than others. And it was no picnic to shoot, either.
"For me, the rape scene was most difficult to film and probably the most difficult to watch was the whipping scene," Fassbender, who plays a sadistic plantation owner, told E! News at the film's press junket.
Lucky for everyone involved with the impressively cast ensemble tear-jerker, for which starChiwetel Ejiofor is already getting Oscar buzz, they had each other.
"There are heavy, intense moments when you're on set and filming. But we had a lot of support within each other, a lot of respect, a lot of love on that crew and amongst the actors," Fassbender said, "so we were looking after each other, you know."
Brad Pitt has a small role in the film as a Canadian carpenter, but Fassbender credits the actor's role behind the scenes as the one that really brought the based-on-a-true-story 12 Years a Slave to life.
"Brad is a very generous artist and a very generous human being," said Fassbender, who also costarred with Pitt in Inglourious Basterds.
"He's one of those people within the industry who encourages and champions new talent, and so when he saw Hunger, I believe that's when he and Steve met and he said to Steve, 'I want to do something, is there something out there you'd like to make? I'd like to be a part of it,'" the actor recalled.
"Because he knows we need more filmmakers like Steve out there making these kind of films, which a lot of the time don't see the light of day because people think the material is too difficult."