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Paul Dano says he’s “not a great guy” in “Twelve Years a Slave”


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By Jennifer Vineyard

Don’t get too used to the romantic Paul Dano (who can be seen along with his real life girlfriend, Zoe Kazan, in the new film, “Ruby Sparks”). A violent Paul Dano is on the way, courtesy of the next film he’s shooting this summer, “Twelve Years a Slave.”

“The main character, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, is a slave who gets passed around to different owners, and I’m one of the ones he comes into contact with on his journey,” Dano told IFC. “And I’m not a great guy.”

The film, which will be directed by Steve McQueen (“Shame”), is based on the account of Solomon Northup, who was a free man kidnapped and forced into slavery. The film also stars Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, and Michael Kenneth Williams. “It’s such a good story, and it’s going to be an interesting film,” Dano said. “And Steve is really passionate. His heart is in the right place. It’s an ambitious film, and he’s going at it strong.”

Dano will play John Tibeats, who bought Northup in 1842 from a previous master (to be played by Cumberbatch). Tibeats, who owned a plantation near New Orleans, was a stern taskmaster, and put Solomon to work at carpentry. On one occasion, upset about the size of a nail that was being used, he attempted to whip Solomon, but the slave managed to push his master over, grab the whip from him, and whip him instead. For that offense, he was nearly lynched, and before he was saved by the overseer, was left bound with a noose and rope, unable to move for a whole day. On another occasion, upset with the level Solomon was planing down a sweep, Tibeats attacked Solomon with an axe, and the slave again bested his master, but barely escaped with his life.

“If you were a white man working on a farm in that time period with slaves, you were probably the boss of them, and it probably was not good for them,” Dano said by way of understatement.

To prepare for the part, the actor is immersing himself in historical research, reading recollections of other slaves and owners, “just to fill out any gaps or your imagination, so you can feel comfortable in that world,” he said, “and to figure out the other facets who that person is.” Dano also plans to work on his accent, and discuss the part further with McQueen.

“That’s my jumping off point,” Dano said. “I’m excited to go do that, and I’m going to do the best job that I can with all of that.”

What are your thoughts on “Twelve Years a Slave” so far? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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