A wonderful article by Prof. Hart. As an experienced actress, I would like to share that screenplays can differ greatly from the original story, in this case, the Solomon Northup's memoir. Screenwriters can and do omit, ignore or rewrite original stories. Perhaps John Ridley, who wrote the screenplay, decided to keep the focus on Solomon and as Prof Hart speculates, not confuse the audience because of the shared last name. An article by The Guardian states that the wife of director McQueen read Solomon's memoir and brought it to the attention of her husband. So,
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it is likely that Steve McQueen did know the two men shared the same name but why they did may not have been clear.
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by Carole Broer '11 (not verified)