The film is being directed by Steve McQueen (Shame, Hunger) and stars Chiwitel Ejiofor, Brad Pitt, and Michael Fassbender.
Based on an autobiography written in 1853 by Solomon Northup, a free black man who became enslaved, the script tells how Northup (Ejiofor) was kidnapped and put in a slave pen, paving the way for a grueling life under numerous owners.
Woodard will play Mistress Shaw, a former slave who has risen in the Southern caste system.
Lupita Nyong'o is also joining the cast and will play a slave who is the object of both the affections and cruelty of Master Epps (Fassbender).
The movie’s cast also includes Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock), Paul Giamatti, Paul Dano, and Sarah Paulson.