Django: Premiere in Rome Fest, The Return of Italian Western Legend, Matthias Schoenaerts, Nicholas Pinnock and Noomi Rapace

Sky’s 10-part series stars Matthias Schoenaerts, Nicholas Pinnock and Noomi Rapace in reimagining of the 1960s Spaghetti Western franchise.

 

The quick-draw gunslinger character introduced in Sergio Corbucci’s 1966 Spaghetti Western classic, which inspired sequels, spinoffs and tributes–and Tarantino’s Django Unchained, has finally arrived.

Sky’s 10-episode Django, which has its world premiere at the Rome Film Festival on Sunday, October 16, is billed as  reimagining not just of Django, but of the Western genre itself.

Set, like the original film, in the period after the American Civil War, the series combines plot elements from both Django and its official 1987 sequel Django Strikes Again, themes from Tarantino’s film — particularly the role of Black people and freed slaves in old West — as well as adding several original ideas of its own. Even Django’s famous weapons-packed coffin makes an appearance, though in a very different setting than the original.

Matthias Schoenaerts as Django
Matthias Schoenaerts as Django @COS-AELENEI

Django is extremely contemporary: it touches upon themes that go from characters’ psychology to family and from inclusivity to diversity,” says Nils Hartmann, executive vp of Sky Studios Italy and Germany, of the new show.

Nicholas Pinnock in Django
Nicholas Pinnock is John Ellis in ‘Django.’ @COS-AELENEI

Alongside Schoenaerts and Pinnock, Django features a multinational cast including Lisa Vicari (Dark), Noomi Rapace (PrometheusThe Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), Jyuddah James (Sandition), Benny O. Arthur (Berlin Alexanderplatz), Eric Kole (Manhunt) and Tom Austen (Misfits).

Produced by Italy’s Cattleya, a division of ITV Studios, Django, which used Romania for its Western backdrops, is one of Sky’s most ambitious projects to date and arguably its most truly European series.

Previous Sky Italia series, such as ChristianBlocco 181 and There’s No Place Like Home, were “productions deeply entrenched in our country,” notes Hartmann. “Django, conversely, speaks to different audiences: for example, the Germans and Americans. We picked out international cast with this goal in mind.”

Noomi Rapace in Django
Noomi Rapace is Elizabeth in ‘Django’ @COS-AELENEI

Django is a Western open to a female audience: the characters were not built on stereotypes,” adds Tozzi, who also credits Francesca Comencini, a director on Cattleya’s popular mafia series Gomorrah, who directed the first four episodes of Django and is artistic director for the entire series, for putting a new spin on the classic genre.

“Our idea was clearly to take a genre we loved and go beyond it,” says Comencini, who is a huge Western fan. “I was asked to name my favorite movie, and I picked The Wild Bunch, for its air of freedom.”

The series “represented an enormous challenge for me. Along with the other two directors, we tried to focus on our strengths. David Evans (Downton Abbey) worked on the episodes with lots of battles and combat. Enrico Maria Artale (Romulus) and I followed the same path: balanced, defined, homogeneous.”

Tozzi said the magnitude of Django “didn’t scare us, because we believe we can prove ourselves with it. We have both the producing and editorial resources for it.”

He compares the show to Cattleya’s popular mafia series ZeroZeroZero and Gomorrah. The former was made for Sky Atlantic, Canal+ and Amazon Prime. The latter was a huge hit for Sky and aired on SundanceTV and HBO Max in the U.S.

Lisa Vicari in Django
‘Dark’ actress Lisa Vicari plays Sarah in ‘Django.’ @COS-AELENEI

Family is also center stage in Django. “This series features all the Western tropes–chases,  shootings, endless landscapes–but it also possesses a sentimental psychological core that focuses on family ties.”

A core theme of the Django series is the crisis of masculinity. “That same masculinity codified in the old Westerns. The kind of masculinity that simply does not exist anymore. Django is a man who has failed in many aspects of his life, who does not believe in anything anymore and is stubbornly looking for new chance.”

“Schoenaerts combines strength and melancholy,” was one of the first cast. It was beautiful, seeing big stars like Noomi Rapace falling in love with the project, actors like Nicholas Pinnock giving it their all, and getting to know younger talents like Lisa Vicari.”

The scale and scope of Django is reflective of the growing ambitions of both Sky and Cattleya. Sky reaches 23 million subscribers across the U.K. and Ireland, as well as in German-speaking Europe and Italy. SkyShowtime, a new streaming joint venture, owned by Sky-parent Comcast and Paramount Global, launched Sept. 20 across the Nordic territories Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden and is rolling out next in the Netherlands, followed next year by Spain, Portugal, Andorra and Central and Eastern Europe.

 

Lisa Vicari and Nicholas Pinnock in Django
Lisa Vicari and Nicholas Pinnock in ‘Django’ @COS-AELENEI-