"12 Years a Slave" director Steve McQueen talks Oscar buzz, film's brutality

"12 Years a Slave" tells the true story of Solomon Northrup, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, a free man kidnapped and sold into slavery before the Civil War.

Steve McQueen directed the movie, which is already considered an Oscar favorite. If he were to win the award, McQueen would be the first black director to win Best Director and Best Picture.

Chiwetel Ejiofor on role in "12 Years a Slave

McQueen called the attention flattering, saying, "To have that kind of attention and response is something that, you know, you're in a kitchen, you have an idea, and all of a sudden the world is looking at you and you're suddenly thinking, 'Oh, my God'."

Turning to discussion over the film's brutality, McQueen said if you're doing a film about slavery "there's not cutting corners here." He added, "It's necessary. ... It's a huge part of history and a part of history that needs to be visualized, needs to be told."

McQueen was introduced to Northrup's memoir by his wife, and he said he was struck" by the narrative.

"She found this book and that was it," he said. "It was -- again having that book in my hand it was almost like having the film script there already. It was a strange thing to have an idea and then have it formalized there."

He added, "I think sometimes you can be a magnet. Certain things you want come to you - so I'm just grateful."

For more with McQueen, watch his full interview above.