If you’ll recall, in the lead-up to production and principle photography of Quentin Tarantino’s highly anticipated western Django Unchained, much was made of the fact that the iconoclastic and mercurial director’s desire to cast Will Smith in the role of Django, an escaped slave who teams up with a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) to rescue his wife from a plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio). Then, suddenly, Smith was out, and Jamie Foxx was cast in the titular role. So, how did the switch go down? Tarantino recently dropped the details during a Playboy interview.
In the interview (via Collider), Tarantino speaks of spending a weekend with Smith to see if he was right for the part (despite the internet all but begging not to cast the affable and occasionally grating star):
“We spent quite a few hours together over a weekend when he was in New York doing Men in Black III. …I think half the process was an excuse for us to hang out and spend time with one another. …It just wasn’t 100 percent right, and we didn’t have time to try to make it that way.”
After moving on from Smith, Tarantino then generated a shortlist of actors who could potentially fill Django’s shoes:
“I met six different actors and had extensive meetings with all of them, and I went in-depth on all of their work. Idris Elba, Chris Tucker, Terrence Howard, M.K. Williams, Tyrese. They all appreciated the material, and I was going to put them through the paces, make them go off against one another and kind of put up an obstacle course.”
So, what stopped him from going through that arduous casting? Jamie Foxx.
“And then I met Jamie and realized I didn’t need to do that.” So what was it about Foxx that led Tarantino to cast him? “He was the cowboy… Forget the fact that he has his own horse — and that is actually his horse in the movie. He’s from Texas; he understands. …He understood what it’s like to be thought of as an ‘other.’”
It’s an interesting perspective on Tarantino’s casting process, which is usually pitch-perfect (and often surprising). That said—and as great as Foxx can be when given the right material—who wouldn’t kill to see Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained starring unsung badass Idris Elba?
What do you think of the Django Unchained news?