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‘SNL’ Profiles the Awkward Making of ’12 Years a Slave’

When you make a movie as emotionally draining and difficult to watch as ’12 Years a Slave,’ you’re bound to make the vast majority of the people watching uncomfortable. After all, if people aren’t upset by a film that tracks a man being dehumanized and treated as property, you’re obviously doing something wrong. But if a film is that hard to watch, what was it like to make? Thankfully, ‘SNL‘ is here to show us all of the nitty gritty details.

After an introduction by Kenan Thompson as director Steve McQueen (who may very well have an Oscar within the next 24 hours), Brooks Wheelan shows up as an actor reading for a small role in the film. What appears to be a normal and friendly audition quickly becomes hugely uncomfortable, as the casting agents ask him to read for the role of an awful racist and he can’t bring himself to do it. Other actors attempt the job as well (including guest host Jim Parsons), but all of these progressive and politically correct modern white guys are just too nice and accepting to play the role of the racist bad guy.

There are funnier ‘SNL’ sketches out there, but this one gets at a fascinating truth of filmmaking: behind every great screen villain is a perfectly normal actor who finds his job very, very unsettling.

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