BREAKING: Quentin Tarantino has made his choice and negotiations will begin for Jamie Foxx to play the title character in Django Unchained. Tarantino’s next film will be distributed domestically by The Weinstein Company and overseas by Sony Pictures. Production begins November.
Foxx will join Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson in a Sergio Leone-style spaghetti Western that Tarantino wrote and has set in Mississippi during slavery. No deal has been made yet, but it shouldn’t take long. While the early focus had Will Smith the likely participant, Deadline told you on June 7 that those talks had gone south, and we were first to identify Foxx as a prime contender for the role along with Idris Elba and Chris Tucker.
The choice of Foxx is an inspired one. After transitioning from comedies to dramas, Foxx proved himself a formidable physical presence in films like Any Given Sunday, Collateral, Jarhead and Law Abiding Citizen, and has shown his acting chops there and in his Oscar-winning turn in Ray. Those facets are prerequisites for the role of Django. And Foxx can ride a horse, too.
Django is a slave who’s liberated by a German dentist-turned-bounty hunter and taught the tricks of the trade by his mentor. Django’s major goal in life is to recover his wife, and to do it he needs to get past the villainous ranch owner Calvin Candie (DiCaprio), who runs Candyland, a despicable club and plantation in Mississippi where female slaves are exploited as sex objects and males are pitted against each other in “mandingo”-style death matches. Candie is a slave’s worst nightmare, and that is where Django’s wife Broomhilda is an abused slave.
Waltz, who won the Oscar for Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, is locked as the bounty hunter and DiCaprio signed on earlier this month. Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction star Jackson is also expected to play the role of Stephen, Candie’s valet who keeps the slaves in line at Candie’s residence. Tarantino turned in his script in late April to The Weinstein Company’s Harvey Weinstein, and Sony Pictures signed on shortly after to distribute in offshore territories.
Django Unchained is being produced by Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction producer Stacey Sher, along with Pilar Savone and Reginald Hudlin. Weinstein, Michael Shamberg and line producer Jim Skotchdopole are exec producing.