Chiwetel Ejiofor: Oscar buzz is nice

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In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.
January 8th, 2014

Chiwetel Ejiofor doesn't want to demean his role in '12 Years a Slave' by discussing awards buzz.

The 36-year-old actor has been heavily tipped for an Oscar for his portrayal of Solomon Northup in the new drama, but he feels discussion about a potential award may ''dismiss'' the film's harrowing story about a real-life figure who was kidnapped and sold into slavery.

He said: ''It's been very weird. Literally as soon as the film was screened, there was Oscar buzz, and that was very nice to hear. But part of me thought, 'Well, hang on - this is a reflection on a man's life over 12 years of unbelievable anguish. Can we really dismiss that so quickly and start to speculate about awards?' ''

Ejiofor is also concerned with attention being paid to the Oscar race between himself and his close friend, 'Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom' star Idris Elba, who is also a black British male.

He explained to Radio Times magazine: ''It seems a strange disconnection with the real world and unfortunately it also generates a kind of racial tension. Simply pointing out that two people who have been nominated for an award happen to have the same amount of melanin in their skin doesn't seem very useful.''