In his new movie, 12 Years a Slave, Brad Pitt may only be onscreen for about eight minutes, but he's perfectly OK with that.
"I'm there to support the story," the actor told Ann Curry during an interview that aired on Wednesday's Today. "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. They held themselves through the entire filming process."
The historical drama finds Pitt playing a Canadian abolitionist in a true story about Solomon Northup, a freeman who's kidnapped in the years before the Civil War and sold into slavery.
"I know what this film is. I've been around film long enough. I know the impact, and this one will have a continuing impact," the three-time Academy Award nominee said. "I'm a moviegoer. 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."
He added, "It's one of those few films that cuts to the base of our humanity. 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."
(E! and Today are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)