Django Unchained: Star-Studded Cast

DJANGO UNCHAINED, written/directed by Quentin Tarantino and starring Jamie Foxx & Leonardo DiCaprio, is being released by The Weinstein Company on December 25th.

With the script in place, Tarantino set out to find the right actors for the ensemble. Jamie Foxx, an Academy Award winner for RAY, won the role of Django. “We got together and he was just terrific,” Tarantino recalls. “He understood the story, the context of the story and the historical importance of the film. He got it 100%. He’s a terrific actor and he looks perfect for the character, but there’s a cowboy quality to him. When I met him, I was imagining that if they cast black guys in the 60s to be the stars of Western TV shows, I could imagine Jamie having his own TV show. He looks good on a horse, and good in the outfit.”

Foxx responded to the script’s honest portrayal of the brutality of slavery. “It was the most incredible script I’ve read in all of my life,” Foxx says. “I thought, ‘Who has the guts, and the knowledge to tell it like it really is?’ I thought that the way he’s telling the story — as true and as honest — if it rips your flesh off, so be it. That’s what was exciting about the process.”

Foxx notes that Django and Broomhilda’s devotion to each other allowed for a personal, intimate window into these characters. “Back at that time, to be married was taboo. You could be killed. They forced marriages back then – or they forced copulation – so the strongest buck would mate with the strongest black woman and they could get stronger slaves. They didn’t want black people to be married. So Django being married was a big thing for me. This is a love story. And that’s what fuels him. He’s not trying to stop slavery. He’s not trying to do anything but find the love of his life – which is like trying to find a needle in a world of haystacks.”

“The reason that we tighten up because it was a bad place,” Foxx continues. “It was a dangerous time, and we sometimes feel that it does hold us in captivity without the chains, metaphorically.”

Kerry Washington, who took on the role of Broomhilda, also connected to the bond that exists between Broomhilda and Django. “The thing that most drew me to the project was this idea that in a time when so much of the world was committed to the idea that people of African decent were not human, that you could have this love story take place between these two human beings who love each other so much at a time when they couldn’t legally be married on their own accord because they weren’t even their own people. They were property. These two people find a way because of the power of their love to be together, and to honor their commitment of marriage to each other in this historical context. It’s just so powerful.”

Washington also saw a connection between DJANGO UNCHAINED and Tarantino’s overall body of work. “He is not afraid of violence, and darkness, and the dark side of the soul,” Washington says. “I think that you need someone who isn’t afraid of those areas to be able to tell a story that takes place in this time. Because it is fundamentally a love story, you also need someone who believes in the goodness of human beings, and believes in love, and believes in beauty to be able to hold onto the love story in the space of all that evil and darkness and greed. I think it’s amazing that he’s able to hold both of those spaces.”
“Love, rescue, transformation: that’s the destination. That’s the journey Quentin has written for Jamie and Kerry in this movie,” producer Stacey Sher agrees.

Samuel L. Jackson, who starred for Tarantino in PULP FICTION and JACKIE BROWN, explains that his interest in DJANGO UNCHAINED was twofold: “It’s a piece of our history that generally gets sort of whitewashed or perfumed in a way that this film just doesn’t do,” Jackson says, adding, “It’s always great to find a character on the inside of one of Quentin’s stories to wrap myself around.”

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