Director Steve McQueen has explained his decision to cast comedian Taran Killam in 12 Years a Slave.

McQueen told The Huffington Post about his decision to cast the Saturday Night Live star.

“He’s amazing. It was through auditions. [Taran] came through auditioning. We don’t get Saturday Night Live outside of America so I didn’t know who Taran was.

“So I just cast him through his audition – I had no idea who this guy was. Afterward people were like, ‘Oh, he’s on Saturday Night Live’. But, he’s an amazing actor. But, unfortunately for me, it was a small role.”

He added, “I think a lot of comedians have that talent where they can go to those kinds of places. I would love to work with him tomorrow. I can’t hold him in higher esteem. I know his part wasn’t that big, but I would work with him tomorrow, for sure.”

12 Years a Slave is set for release on January 24th 2014.