- Actor-Inspired Element: After Steve McQueen suggested Epps come back from the judge's not wearing pants, Michael Fassbender came up with the idea of him holding the little girl's hand. According to them, it's Epps priming the next Patsey.
- Actor-Shared Background: Purely coincidental, but Ejiofor and Northup share the same birthday (July 10th).
- Billing Displacement: Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt got prominent billing for the Italian promotional posters, due to the two of them being better known in Italy than Chiwetel Ejiofor.
- The Cameo: Quvenzhané Wallis and Dwight Henry of Beasts of the Southern Wild fame have small roles as Solomon's daughter and a fellow slave respectively.
- Colbert Bump: The movie's success has seen a spike in sales of the original memoir.
- Deleted Role: Ruth Negga filmed about a week's worth of footage as a slave kept in a cage surrounded by alligators, only for all the scenes to be cut.
- Doing It for the Art: Chiewetel Ejiofor learned to play the violin for his part.
- Enforced Method Acting: Michael Fassbender had the make-up artist paint his mustache with alcohol so he would smell of it - and thus the other actors would react naturally as they would to a man who was frequently drunk.
- Fake American: The British Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Cumberbatch, the Kenyan-Mexican Lupita Nyong'o, and the Irish-German Michael Fassbender play American characters. Irish Ruth Negga too but her scenes were cut.
- Fake Nationality: Brad Pitt as a Canadian.
- Money, Dear Boy: Inverted. Brad Pitt explained that he cast himself in a brief role in order to secure funding for the film itself.
- Playing Against Type:
- Taran Killam, of Saturday Night Live fame in a gritty drama about slavery.
- Michael Fassbender as a slave-driving tyrant; his other roles, at the very worst, have him as either a morally ambiguous Anti-Hero, or a Well-Intentioned Extremist, usually with some degree of sympathetic/redeeming qualities.
- Production Posse: This was the third collaboration between Michael Fassbender and Steve McQueen, after Hunger and Shame. Also the third film the former has done with Brad Pitt.
- Reality Subtext:
- Michael Fassbender (who plays Epps) has made it known that he prefers dating darker-skinned women. Make of that what you will.
- The tree where Solomon sees three men being lynched was used for actual lynching, and is surrounded by the graves of murdered slaves.
- Star-Making Role
- For Lupita Nyong'o, who became a darling of the film industry overnight and won an Oscar for her performance as Patsey.
- Chiwetel Ejiofor has appeared in many films beforehand (i.e, Serenity, American Gangster, 2012), but this was his first big leading role. Despite the fact that his star was completely outshone by Nyong'o's, it was enough to get him more high profile parts afterwards.
- User Operation Prohibit Flag: The Blu-Ray edition you can get from Netflix comes with about fifteen minutes of completely unskippable previews. Every navigation function, including fast forward, is disabled while they play.
Trivia / 12 Years a Slave