Anthony D’Alessandro is Managing Editor of AwardsLine.

Django Unchained“I think she had to be in there for 20 minutes before I yelled action.” Quentin Tarantino is referring to the time that Kerry Washington spent in the “hotbox” — a hole in the ground on a plantation where slaves were sent when they tried to escape. It’s where Washington’s character Broomhilda is locked up when her husband, Django (Jamie Foxx), arrives at Candyland — the vast Southern estate owned by her owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) in Tarantino’s Django Unchained. Her voice parched from screaming and her body weakened, Broomhilda doesn’t know that Django has come to rescue her with the help of dentist-cum-bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz).

“Kerry is very game to make things as real as possible,” says Tarantino, who as Waltz points out, can often inspire actors with their characters’ back stories, “Leaving her in the box for 30 seconds and then yelling action wouldn’t work. Nor would sticking her in the box for hours. But 10 minutes in the box could feel like 30. The idea was for Kerry to become disoriented, lose track of time in there, and contemplate what eight hours in the box would feel like. She could yell or scream.”

“But there was a safe word,” adds Washington, “so that the crew knew when I was panicking as a person, and not as an actor. This is how a lot of the film went — taking the reality as far as we could.” (more…)