Jamie Foxx will play the title character in Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained,” the story of a freed slave who seeks revenge against a sadistic slave owner. Django receives help from a German bounty hunter, Christoph Waltz, best known as the single-minded Jew hunter in Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds.”
In discussing his role with CNN, Foxx confirmed two heretofore casting rumors – Leonardo DiCaprio as the evil slave owner, Calvin Candie, and Samuel L. Jackson as Candie’s overseer.
Jackson’s miniscule role as Rufus the organ player in “Kill Bill: Vol. 2” and his uncredited narration of “Inglourious Basterds” notwithstanding, I’ve waited since “Jackie Brown” for a substantial Jackson-Tarantino collaboration. No actor physically communicates Tarantino’s dialogue as well as Jackson does. With all due respect to the super fly Uma Thurman, I think Jackson might be Tarantino’s real muse.
The most exciting “Django Unchained” casting news concerns DiCaprio, who will finally play a bad guy. A really bad guy. Not one of those angst-ridden men haunted by their pasts or presents like he played in “The Departed,” “Shutter Island” and “Inception” or even the mercenary with a heart of gold in “Blood Diamond.” According to leaked snippets from the script, this Candie dude is evil. He’s holding Django’s wife, Broomhilda, captive and wants to see Django back in chains.
DiCaprio’s decision to play a character whose death you probably root for reminds me of Henry Fonda’s choice to take on the role of the villainous Frank in the classic spaghetti western, “Once Upon a Time in the West.” In case you haven’t seen the movie, I won’t tell you what chilling act of evil Frank commits. Just watch the movie. If, like me, you’re a fan of classics – and Henry Fonda’s bright blue eyes – you’ll never be the same. But it’s one of the best westerns ever made, so it’s worth the nightmares.
Idris Elba, known to fans of “The Wire” as Stringer Bell, was reportedly up for the role of Django. Although I would love to see Stringer, uh, Elba land a starring role in a major movie, I won’t hold any of this against Foxx. Well, I won’t hold it against him if the same Jamie Foxx who impressed me in “Jarhead” and “Collateral” shows up. But if the Jamie Foxx who disappointed me in “Dreamgirls” shows up, I’ll be saying, “Tarantino should have gone with Stringer” for the rest of my life.
“Django Unchained,” which has a tentative release date of Christmas 2012, will be something of a spaghetti western, one Tarantino has described as a “southern.” The movie was inspired by Sergio Corbucci’s 1966 spaghetti western, “Django,” which featured Franco Nero as an anti-hero who dragged around a machine gun-concealing coffin.
I know what I’m putting on my Christmas 2012 wish list – at least one scene of Jamie Foxx dragging around a machine gun-concealing coffin.