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We Read It: Casting Quentin Tarantino’s Slavery/Spaghetti Western Epic ‘Django Unchained’

We Read It: Casting Quentin Tarantino's Slavery/Spaghetti Western Epic 'Django Unchained'

You’ll recall in 2008 we did, what we thought, was a very good job of casting Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” (some of us are still convinced our picks were better than Q.T.’s, but that’s another story). And unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Tarantino has recently finished his latest script, one entitled “Django Unchained.” So yes, we’re at it again.

As you, Q.T., The Weinstein Company, and everyone involved, frankly expects, the script has leaked and in case you’re wondering, yes, we can confirm that the leaked details of the story are correct. Here’s our modification of the the synopsis. If you haven’t read it already and don’t want to, look away, and yes, there are minor spoilers below, but nothing that won’t be in a basic synopsis or description via the trade reports.

“Django Unchained” centers on Django, a freed slave who under the tutelage of a German bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) becomes trained and deputized as an equally cut-throat and eagle-eyed assassin himself. After assisting the bounty hunter in taking down some bank-robbing murderers that have a price on their head, he’s helped by him in tracking down his slave wife and liberating her from an evil plantation owner.

To add to this a bit, the verbose German bounty hunter, Dr. King Schultz is empathetic to Django’s cause as he’s rather sickened by all the racism and slavery around him. After dispensing with the aforementioned bank robbers, posing as lawmen, Django explains his mission is to find his wife in the last place she was sold: Greenville, Mississipi. Schultz, more aware than the cavalier Django that this solo mission is one of sheer suicide, concocts a plan to train and then help him, as they masquerade under the pretenses of a duo who are looking to buy Mandingo fighting slaves. What then transpires is a long, circuitous journey around the South in search of Broomhilda, Django’s slave wife and several encounters with hick, racist plantation owners that culminates at the Candyland plantation, the owners of which are part of a secret society that acquires African-American female slaves as girlfriends.

And yes, “Django Unchained” is exactly the “Southern” Tarantino’s been hinting at over the last few years, just like he talked up “Inglourious Basterds” in advance. And like ‘Basterds,’ he’s delivered pretty much exactly what he promised, a revenge tale set in the South during America’s slavery days. Similar to ‘Basterds’ in jumping-off-point spirit and influence, “Django Unchained” riffs on the title of one of his favorite films (Sergio Corbucci’s 1966 film, “Django” starring Franco Nero), mashes up one of his favorite genres (Spaghetti Westerns) and concocts a brew that is very much singular and identifiably Tarantino, while simultaneously laying its influences and references on its sleeves. “Inglourious Basterds” was inspired by, but was ultimately nothing like, Enzo G. Castellari’s 1978 soldiers-on-a-suicide-mission B-movie “The Inglorious Bastards,” and “Django Unchained” similarly functions under the same modus operandi (though while arguably even less similar to the original, “Django” does feature similar violent but stylish action and racist themes and characters). “Django Unchained” also may be the most straight forward story that Tarantino has ever written. Unlike “Inglourious Basterds” or “Pulp Fiction” Q.T. isn’t balancing and cutting back between three different story lines. This is much more akin to the revenge tale told in “Kill Bill,” but still much less trangressive, with less colorful and disparate locations (this one is all set in the South).

As you’d expect, the racial politics are a minefield. Expect Spike Lee to shit a brick when he reads it (you might recall that circa “Jackie Brown” Lee publicly called out Q.T. for his use of the word “nigger”; Tarantino responded that as a writer, he’s free use any word at his disposal that suits the character). And you might not be able to argue with him or simply dismiss his complaints as typical Lee kvetching, as there are some really ballsy elements written throughout. Only Quentin Tarantino could get away with this, or have the chutzpah (or naiveté to think he won’t catch a world of shit) to write it. Some of it works, some of it doesn’t. At 166 pages it’s also overly long (yes, even for Q.T.) and not his most successful screenplay to date, but no matter what, Tarantino’s work is always worth standing in-line for and generally worth the wait.

There’s also less major characters in the screenplay then in previous Q.T. joints, but nonetheless, we’ve decided to attempt to cast the picture with our picks. The difference is we’ve learned our lesson from our ‘Inglourious’ picks, which leaned heavily on characters who could deliver a reality-based WWII drama, whereas we should’ve known ‘Inglourious’ would stick to the homage-heavy movie-ness (stylized world) that permeates all of Tarantino’s films (and makes the filmmaker go for choices like Simon Pegg, Adam Sandler and Mike Myers — even if the first two had to drop out over scheduling conflicts — over more down-to-earth picks).

But we digress. Below, our choices for the characters in “Django Unchained,” fully realizing that Q.T. will likely go his own way. It’s a mix of who we would love to see in the roles, and then trying to guess where Tarantino would go given his affinity for B-movie actors, off-the-beaten path choices and resurrecting old stars, though as you saw in ‘Inglourious,’ Quentin seems to be shying away from using the same old actors over and over again.

The Character: Not as well-drawn out as the German bounty hunter Dr. Schultz at first, it does take somewhere into the 2nd act that Django’s confidence begins to build and the character not only turns into the star of the film, but comes into his own. At first Django seems like a confused and muttering slave, clueless and suspicious why this strange foreigner has saved and befriended him. But after a few months in bounty-hunting training — and a few flashbacks that illustrate the horrors and brutalities that he’s had to live through — Django becomes fully humanized and the true hero of this story.
Our Choice: There’s lots of options for this one, but first and foremost we like Micheal K. Williams, who famously played Omar in “The Wire.” He’s doesn’t quite have the movie-ness factor as much as we’d like, but we still think he’d be utterly outstanding for the role. Also in a film like this, it’s unlikely that the lead could be at all light-skinned, so that discounts people like Terrence Howard, who some have mentioned, immediately.
Familiar Tarantino Options: Fitting the bill for those who have already starred in Tarantino-world, first and foremost is Chris Tucker. We could see Tarantino choosing him, but we don’t think he has the range necessary for the role, and he hasn’t made a movie outside the “Rush Hour” franchise in almost half a decade — in fact, since “Jackie Brown.” It might not be the best choice in our minds, but it wouldn’t necessarily surprise us either (and hell, they’ve been hanging out recently too). Hell, he could go with Jim Brown for all we know, but frankly, that would be a terribly limiting choice as Jim’s a good dude, but can’t exactly act much, plus he’d decades too old for the part. Some have said Michael Jai White, who was cut out of “Kill Bill.” That’s plausible, but would likely make us tune out fast. He’s an action star, not an actor.
Other Options: Anthony Mackie is probably our first choice, but doesn’t come to mind as someone Tarantino would choose, which is what we’re going for here. Same with Don Cheadle, Chiwetel Ejiofor, David Oyelowo, Derek Luke or Djimon Hounsou. No, Tarantino likes to make his choices weird and having devoured so much TV in his day, we’d bet you’d see Blair Underwood in this role before any of these African-American actors. Another great choice would be Jamie Hector, also from “The Wire,” who played Marlo Stanfield, but we don’t want to get our hopes up too high.
Finally: Some have called for Idris Elba, but he’s rather big (Django is supposed to be small and scrawny, not worth buying in the slave trade), so we’re sticking with the much smaller Williams.

Dr. King Schultz
We’re not casting this one, it’s cast. As much as Tarantino and Waltz want to shy away or purposefully misdirect from the fact the Academy Award-winning “Inglourious Basterds” star isn’t Dr. King Schultz, it’s as clear as the day is long that the role was actively and specifically written for Waltz. Arguably the swishy and eloquent character is Col. Hans Landa all over again, only in the South and this time he’s as sympathetic as he is ruthless instead of being Machiavellian and heartless. His garrulous dialogue and manner of speech, complete with the catchphrase “Wunderbar!,” is definitely not dissimilar. We would bet our website away if Waltz doesn’t get this role. You can have it.

The Character: In Quentin Tarantino films, sometimes characters are more like pawns in a chess game more than they are fully fleshed-out and fully realized human beings and this tends to be the case of Broomhilda who essentially amounts to the damsel in distress of the picture, who really loves her man, and… that’s about it.
Our Choice: There’s quite a bit of nudity in the script, which if he keeps, we think would discount two of Hollywood’s A-list young and hot African American Actresses, Zoe Saldana and Paula Patton (or at least we assume it would). Patton also just feels a little too light skinned for this story, and doesn’t look quite right for this time period (her mother is Caucasian). We think Quentin would need go with someone lesser known, but someone still attractive. Our choice is , Meagan Good (“Eve’s Bayou,” “Brick,” “D.E.B.S”), who is still of mixed lineage, but still looks the part. Our backup choice would be Teairra Mari from “The Lottery Ticket.” Our #1 real choice, if we could turn back time, would be a very young Viola Davis, but the girl can act and would be completely undervalued in this film.
Familiar Tarantino Options: Tracie Thoms and Sydney Tamila Poitier both appeared in “Death Proof,” but we don’t see them for this part. That said, there are several other smaller female slave roles in the picture (that we won’t cast here as they are too small) and we could easily see them pop up in one of those.
Other Options: Taraji P. Henson is someone we would love to see in this role if it was actually fleshed out, then again, namebrand actors have come around for less. Others discussed include Lisa Gay Hamilton, Naomie Harris, Anika Noni Rose, Keke Palmer, and we’d love to see a left field pick like Lauryn Hill or Erykah Badu, but we don’t see it happening.

Calvin Candie
The Character: Although he doesn’t really appear until the second half of the movie, ‘Monsieur’ Calvin Candie is the principle antagonist in the script. The owner of a mixed race club in Greenville, Mississippi, and a dealer in mandingo fighting slaves, Candie takes possession of Broomhilde through a card game, and so it’s to his home — Candyland as he calls it — that Django and Schultz travel. He’s a typically rich Tarantino villain, both eccentric (he’s a Francophile, and insists on being called ‘Monsieur,’ even if he can’t speak French) and complex — he’s a solid gold bastard, to be sure, but he’s also charismatic and not without his depths.
Our Choice: As such, he was a tricky one to cast, until we eventually landed on Josh Brolin. The actor’s become something of a go-to guy for Westerns in the last few years, both good — “True Grit” — and bad — “Jonah Hex,” but the role’s a neat fit for him, although he’s perhaps a little younger than as written. You need someone with the heft to stand up to Django and Schultz, someone who poses a real threat, but who can also play the subtler notes as well, and Brolin more than fits the bill. After his surprisingly brief turn in “True Grit,” which Tarantino adored, it’d be good to see him stretch his villainous chops.
Familiar Tarantino Options: Harvey Keitel’s an old Tarantino hand, although they haven’t worked together since “Pulp Fiction” (aside from that quick voice cameo in ‘Inglourious’) — he’d be a good pick, although possibly a little small to be imposing in the role. Robert De Niro is also plausible, although based on his Texan turn in “Machete,” it may not be the best idea in the world. Also, if Kurt Russell wanted to reunite with the director after “Death Proof,” he wouldn’t be a bad option either.
Other Options: Jeff Bridges was our first thought, but even if he wanted to do it, he’s likely to be busy on the period fantasy “The Seventh Son,” which shoots in September. Brendan Gleeson would be a good fit for the role on the page, but possibly not the kind of actor up Tarantino’s alley. Other names that came up: Warren Beatty (once mooted for the title role in “Kill Bill”), Mickey Rourke (originally planned to star in “Death Proof”), Bruce Dern, Billy Bob Thornton, Bryan Cranston, Chris Cooper, Danny Huston, Keith Carradine, Ian McShane (although he’d essentially be replaying his indelible performance in “Deadwood”) and William Forsythe, who could use a Tarantino-endorsed comeback.

The Character: One of the best written roles in the script, Stephen is Candie’s top slave, and an expert manipulator — as Tarantino describes in his introduction to the character, he’s “the Basil Rathbone of house niggers.” He’s reached a level of familiarity with Candie that he can insult him to his face, but it’s toothless (it’s easily the most interesting relationship in the script), and Django calls him on it — earning him Stephen’s emnity.
Our Choice: Tarantino’s made something of a specialty of reviving the career of an actor from classic genre cinema, and Stephen, described as “very old,” seems to be the best opportunity for that. And what better an icon to revive than “Shaft” himself, Richard Roundtree. The 68-year-old actor has never gone away, cropping up in the likes of “Brick” and “Speed Racer,” but he’s also not had a role as good as this in some time. Plus, the idea of casting the star of “Charley One-Eye,” a direct inspiration for the film, has to be pretty tempting for Tarantino.
Familiar Tarantino Option: Having said that, the role is more likely to go to Tarantino’s BFF, Samuel L. Jackson. Since “Pulp Fiction,” the actor’s been involved in every project from the director bar “Death Proof,” and, while he’s certainly too old to play Django, Stephen’s a very good fit for him. Hopefully it’ll pluck him out of the De Niro-like series of self-parodies his career’s become.
Other Options: Clarke Peters, star of “The Wire,” would kick ass in the role, but he’s probably a long shot. Ving Rhames could certainly use a role like this, and would do a good job, while Jeffrey Wright would nail it too. Danny Glover would be perfect frankly, but we suspect that the politically-minded actor may have some issues with the script’s racial politics. Finally, Idris Elba, who’s far too stacked to play the ‘skinny’ Django, would be solid, but it’d also entail the part being aged down at least 20 years.

Ace Woody
The Character: Woody is another total shit, Candie’s right-hand-man, and a trainer of mandingos — the gigantic black slaves that fight to the death for the amusement of the whites like pitbulls or cockfights. It’s not an enormous part — about three scenes, including a meaty torture one — but he’s again someone who poses a real threat to our heroes.
Our Choice: Putting ourself in the Tarantino mindset, an interesting, and oddly plausible, choice for the role would be Danny McBride. The actor might be best known for his comic turns, but darkness has always been close to the surface in his performances, and he’s acquitted himself nicely in more dramatic turns, like “All the Real Girls” and “Up in the Air” (a film Tarantino loved). Plus, he’s already put on a black hat, so to speak, for this summer’s “30 Minutes or Less.” The casting might not sit well with everyone, but considering Tarantino cast Ryan from “The Office” and the director of “Cabin Fever” as badass WW2 commandos, we wouldn’t count it out, and we’re sure McBride would do a better job than B.J. Novak and Eli Roth.
Familiar Tarantino Options: Michael Madsen is a veteran of the director’s work who the role might as well have been written for, but we think that there’s more adventurous names out there. Michael Fassbender could do it as well, but 1) it would be basically be a reprise of his turn in “Jonah Hex,” and we’re sure the wounds are still too fresh on that one, and 2) He’s basically the most in-demand actor around right now, and may not have room in his schedule.
Other Options: We liked the idea of “District 9” star Sharlto Copley in the part, but it’s quite a left-field pick. Other names we discussed included Ray Liotta, Denis Leary, Ben Foster, Thomas Jane, “Boardwalk Empire” breakout Jack Huston, Nick Chinlund, Clifton Collins Jr., and Woody Harrelson.

Lara Lee Candie-Fitzwilly
The Character: The widowed sister of Calvin, she’s an attractive strawberry blonde in her early ’40s. Like Broomhilda, it’s a pretty thin part: after “Kill Bill,” “Death Proof” and Shosanna in “Inglourious Basterds,” Q.T. seems to have decided it’s time to give the strong, or even three-dimensional, female characters a rest for a bit.
Our Choice: She’s a touch young for the part, but Christina Hendricks, of “Mad Men” fame, would be a good choice. Her bigger-than-life look is well suited to Tarantino’s movie-movie world, and she’s shown on the AMC series that she can be both mean and vulnerable. Plus, she has Western form, of a sort, after a recurring role in Joss Whedon’s space oater “Firefly.”
Traditional Tarantino Choice: Mm, not many come to mind. Uma Thurman fits on the page, but after “Kill Bill,” we feel like she wouldn’t take anything bar a lead for the director, even if her career could use the boost. Diane Kruger would work too, but she’s not yet pulled off an American accent.
Other Options: Elizabeth Banks could be really good, even if the part again wouldn’t use her to her full talents. Bryce Dallas Howard is another possibility, although she’s about a decade too young, while Sienna Miller, Diane Lane, Malin Akerman and Kate Mara all sprang to mind.

Spencer “Big Daddy” Bennett
The Character: “Big Daddy” Bennett isn’t a large part, by any means, but he’s the first real antagonist Schultz & Django come up against — a deeply racist slave-owner, who employs the men that sold Django and Broomhilda into slavery.
Our Choice: A prime slot for the kind of John Travolta/Robert Forster-esque career revival that Tarantino specializes in, there’s a number of possibilities, but our favorite is Stacy Keach. The 70-year-old actor hasn’t had the easiest time of it (including a nine-month prison stretch for coke smuggling), but his turns back in the day, in the likes of “Fat City,” “The Long Riders” and “Mountain of the Cannibal God” (the kind of B-movie that Tarantino adores) were pretty special, and he’s become more visible in recent years thanks to a recurring role on “Prison Break.” The only question is of physical viability — he’s getting on in years, and suffered a stroke in 2009.
Traditional Tarantino Option: It’s another role that Michael Madsen could end up in, or Tarantino favorite Michael Parks could well crop-up. There’s also “Lost” star Jeff Fahey, who’s found his way into the director’s pal Robert Rodriguez’s favor in the last few years, through “Planet Terror” and “Machete.” One last Tarantino option is Christopher Walken who was amazing in both “True Romance” and “Pulp Fiction.” This would be a nice return if Walken can knock the New York out of his accent.
Other Options: Powers Boothe was the other name that came to mind immediately — an actor much like Keach, but younger, and more of a threat — plus he’s been flexing his Western muscles on “Deadwood,” and appeared in “Sin City.” A name like Kris Kristofferson could fit, although he’s perhaps too old, and doesn’t really fit into the Tarantino stable. If the director wanted to pay homage to one of his inspirations for the film, he could cast Perry King, star of the original fighting-slave Western “Mandingo,” while Ted Levine and M.C. Gainey are character actor stalwarts who’d kill in the role.

Leo Moguy
The Character: Moguy (named for the French filmmaker Leonide Moguy) is Candie’s lawyer, who sets up the meeting between the slave-trader and Schultz. He’s a schmoozer and a charmer, but can be a threat if needed. Again, only a handful of scenes, but a good opportunity for a cameo.
Our Choice: We flew the flag for John Hawkes to appear in “Inglourious Basterds,” and while it didn’t happen, we’d like to think that the veteran character actor having picked up an Oscar nomination in the meantime, for “Winter’s Bone,” might make him a contender here (plus there’s a loose connection; his first major role was Robert Rodriguez’s little-seen 1994 TV movie “Roadracers”). He’s another “Deadwood” vet, but he’s shown his fiercer side recently, both in Debra Granik’s film and in Sundance hit “Martha Marcy May Marlene.”
Traditional Tarantino Options: If there’s a role here that fits Eli Roth, it’s this one, but we pray to the name of all that is good that it doesn’t happen.
Other Options: We really like the idea of unsung character actor Titus Welliver, who’s nearly omnipresent on TV, between “Lost,” “Sons of Anarchy” and “The Good Wife,” but he’s also got plenty of movie credits, like a very strong turn in “Gone Baby Gone.” Otherwise, “A Serious Man”’s Michael Stuhlbarg is something of a no-brainer, while Jeremy Davies, who’s been so good on “Justified” of late, could work nicely too.

Scotty Harmony
The Character: Scotty’s a shy, overweight 24-year-old whose father purchases Broomhilda for him, in an attempt to build his confidence. One of the more sympathetic white characters on show, he’s genuinely in love with his new “pony” (the nickname for black girlfriend slaves) at least until he comes up against Candie in a card game.
Our Choice: Jonah Hill. Bear with us. The two move in the same circles, and Tarantino named both “Cyrus” and “Get Him To The Greek” among his favorite films of last year, which suggests that he’s a fan of the actor. Hill certainly fits the character description, and he’d fit with some of the more leftfield choices that the director made on “Inglourious Basterds.”
Traditional Tarantino Option: Former “Freaks & Geeks” star Samm Levine, who had more lines than most in as one of the Basterds in the director’s last film (and a few small scenes that were cut too). He’d be a good choice, the only problem being that he perhaps looks a little too… Semitic to be in a Southern family in the 19th century (some might argue that Hill could have the same problem, to be fair, but not to the same extent).
Other Option: We were firmly irritated by Josh Gad in “Love and Other Drugs,” but the actor’s picked up ecstatic reviews for his role in the Trey Parker/Matt Stone musical “The Book of Mormon” on Broadway, which makes us think we’ve underestimated him. If he’s not tied into his theater commitments, he could work.

The Character: OK, there’s not much to this one. He’s a largely silent bodyguard for Calvin Candie, who wears too-small, ill-fitting suits that make him look funny. He’s a heavy waiting to pounce.
Our Choice: We assume Tarantino watches Tyler Perry films and we think at least one actor from the Tyler Perry universe should be here, so why not Malik Yoba?
Familiar Tarantino Choice: Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister, he played a similar role in “Jackie Brown” as Winston, a character that Sam Jackson often referred to as the “big ol’ mandingo n*gger.”
Other Options: Terry Crews is entirely possible, for instance, bar clashes with “The Expendables” sequel. Again, Idris Elba, who is the right size for this role, is a serious actor and surely would only take a role that he could actually sink his teeth into. Sadly, it doesn’t seem like there’s one for him in this. At least, not a major one.

Assorted Hillbillies:
Our Choices: There’s a whole bunch of redneck bad guys dotted around the script, most of whom are, it should be said, are relatively interchangeable. There are arguably five more significant ones, whose roles could be filled by recognizable faces. Three important ones are the Brittle Brothers, the outlaws who sold off Django and Broomhilda, and who Schultz is tracking. None are hugely significant, but they need to be recognizable, so we’re inclined to go for names like Garret Dillahunt, who’s popped up memorably in the likes of “The Assassination of Jesse James” and “No Country For Old Men,” and Shea Whigham, who broke through in “All the Real Girls” before turning up in “Fast & Furious,” “Bad Lieutenant” and “Machete.” And to complete the trio — what about Gary Busey? The actor’s making a big-screen return in “Piranha 3DD,” and a match with Tarantino seems like a no-brainer. Otherwise, there are Candie’s two major slave-wranglers, the vicious Mr. Stonesipher, who sets dogs on runaway slaves, and the slightly more sympathetic Billy Crash. As a professed Elmore Leonard fan, we reckon that Tarantino’s probably a fan of FX’s “Justified,” and there are two cast members of that show who’d fit nicely here — Walton Goggins, who’s also in “Predators” and “Cowboys & Aliens,” would make a good Mr. Stonesipher, while Brad William Henke, who gave a tremendous performance in “Choke,” would be great as Billy Crash.
Other Options: Australian actor Damon Herriman is another “Justified” alumni who’d fit in nicely, and a role in Clint Eastwood’s “J. Edgar” has raised his stock. Again, Michael Parks could play pretty much any of these parts, while if the casting will be as “top shelf” as Deadline suggested, a rising star like Garret Hedlund or Taylor Kitsch could slip into one of them. A more off-beat choice would be “Anchorman” star David Koechner, for instance, or “This is England”’s Stephen Graham, while names like Michael Bowen, Nicky Katt, Brent Sexton or W. Earl Brown would all work

The Slaves
There are several male negro slaves in the film who have a few lines in the picture here and there, and or are semi-reoccuring characters that don’t say much. They are mostly thankless roles, but if they’re going to cast names in them, here are a few ideas: Chad Coleman who played “Cutty” on “The Wire,” The RZA, Michael Jai White, Andre Royo (“Bubbles” from “The Wire”), Mahershalalhashbaz Ali, Columbus Short, Seth Gilliam, the list goes on and on. However, what African-American actor wants to play a slave with no lines, or very few of them, in a film directed by a white person with some pretty tricky race issues in it? Maybe people will make the exception for the Tarantino-factor. There’s also a little boy in the film briefly named Timmy and we’d love to see Leeon Jones, the quieter boy from “Attack the Block” get that role. In fact, any of those teenagers in that excellent Joe Cornish film surfacing somewhere would be great.

The Aussie Hicks
The Characters: The characters, Roy, Floyd and the leader Jano, are described as three Australian white trash peckerwoods who drive a caravan of slaves. They’re only on the screen for 12 pages, but they participate in a comedic and crucial key scene near the end.
Our Choices: “Animal Kingdom” landed at #3 on Tarantino’s Best Films of 2010 top 10 list. We’d love to think he’d try for some of these actors. Joel Edgerton almost got the lead in “The Bourne Legacy” so it feels doubtful that he come in for this small role, but Sullivan Stapleton, one of the “Animal Kingdom” crew, who didn’t seem to get as much recognition as the others (despite being just as intense), would be perfect. Ben Mendelsohn’s career has taken off too, with a plum role coming up in Andrew Dominik’s “Cogan’s Trade,” and this role could be too small for him, but he’d be perfect. To top off the trio, how about Ashley Zukerman from the great Aussie film, “Blame.”

Lastly, we’d like to reiterate, these aren’t entirely our picks. If we had our druthers, half the cast of “The Wire” would be in prominent spots throughout the film, but as we’ve learned in the past, what we think is good casting and what Tarantino thinks is good casting appears to be in two different universes. That’s not to say they’ll necessarily be bad ones — Waltz and the wonderful Melanie Laurent were his discoveries, and he certainly knew what he was doing there. But what we’re saying is that he’s a hard man to predict, and anyone expecting the cast to be stuffed with returning veterans from his films will be just as wrong as the guys saying they think Denzel Washington’ll play the lead. Casting news will surely leak soon, hopefully we’re somewhat on the money.

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jesus christ these picks were awesome haha


mikhai phife should play this django. Phife was most recently spectacular in Curb Your Enthusiasm as the private investigator. Dead pan, very seriously acted approach to lines and situation somewhat comedic in nature strike me as exactly what Tarentino will be aiming to conjure up for this new movie.


neither zoe saldana or paula patton are "african american" paula is mixed race and zoe- also mixed is dominican and puerto rican so please get your facts right! Also kerry washington who you didnt even mentioned in your line up and is actually BLACK is now confirmed for the role.


In regards to John Hawkes, don’t forget that he worked with Tarantino in From Dusk Till Dawn.


I congratulate each and every African-American male and female actor who had the integrity, strength of character, and courage to choose to pass by this story of exploitative degradation, patronizing dominance, and theatrical humiliation.


Dear Author,

Have you considered that there are black actors who will be turned off, perhaps, by the offensive nature of this script/story, as it stands? Please don’t assume that everyone’s a QT fan, dying to be cast as one of his “ni–ers,” or that Spike’s opinions reside in a vacuum. Just sayin’…


Don’t forget Simon Pegg. whom QT promised a role to cuz he couldn’t do Basterds. Maybe one of the australian peckawoods??

This is laced with subtle racism

To the author: so are you implying that there is a higher level of difficulty in casting the role of broomhilda because a lighter skinned black actress cannot be cast??? Either your logic makes no sense or your choice of words is poor, at best. Paula Patton could not be cast (because she is so light) so they should look for someone lesser known but “attractive”?! Funny you did not make this same statement when you noted Christina Hendricks might be too young, that they should find an equally attractive older version. There are plenty of darker skinned actresses you could have named, who in my opinion are just as if not more attractive than Paula, including Gabrielle Union. I do agree that part should go to an unknown, if for no other reason than to expand the number of working, younger black actresses. And of course, to expose writers like yourself to beauty beyond those that look like Paula Patton.


Looking forward to the 3 Aussie hicks for some comic relief. You can’t go past Jason Gann and Adam Zwar from the original Wilfred. Ben Mendelsohn works well with another Aussie, Noah Taylor.


Uh, Paula Patton is “too light-skinned” and not right for the time period because she’s biracial? Someone needs a more thorough history lesson. Biracial people have existed since the beginning of time and most certainly existed during slavery. Even D.W. Griffith included biracial characters in Birth of a Nation. Paula Patton could most certainly play the daughter of a slave and plantation owner: as was sometimes the case. Duh.




Am I the only one who sees a golden oppurtunity to use the song “Boss Nigger” from the movie with the same name?


Am I the only one who sees a golden oppurtunity to use the song “Boss Nigger” from the movie with the same name?


I think THE BOONDOCKS did this better in their episode “The Legend of Catcher Freeman” (Uncle Ruckus version).


Broomhilda=Kerry Washington, she’s a fantastic actress or Naomie Harris.


Amazing article. Top notch research and fantastic choices.

I would love to see Roundtree and Russell in their selected roles.

And yeah, I could see the Wu on the soundtrack for this. It seems to jab that vibe. Maybe some new original stuff just for the film. And if Basterds can play a 80s Bowie song, why can’t this feature some Wu?

And did someone say Josh Halloway? Ugh. No. He will always be Sawyer and a poor mans Solid Snake.

Jake Mulligan

Cool, thanks for the response. I mention the Wu because he’s said at one point that there was a sequence in “Basterds” (probably a previous iteration of the script) that had a sequence set to their music. And also, I would love to see “Unchained” become a celebration of black culture right up to this very day, and I think the Wu could add to that, as some of the most unarguably artistic hip-hop music out there.

The Playlist

Actually, I forgot, it’s written by Luis Bacalov in that film, but the version i have (and which i like better) was performed by Morricone.

Here’s the Bacalov version, the morricone one has acapella female vocals which are great and more strings.

The Playlist

Ennio Morricone for sure. He did the music for “Django” (the title track of which i put on my If I Were Quentin Tarantino imaginary soundtrack back in 2007. How’s that for prescient?

I would seriously doubt, even for anachronistic QT that there would be any rap in the film. It’s a spaghetti western so it will have spaghetti western music from older films and or, if QT is lucky, he’ll get Morricone himself like he tried to get him for Inglourious Basterds.

Jake Mulligan

Sorry to have to ask something slightly off topic, but I’ve got two questions I’m dying to know about this script and I don’t want to read it whether it leaks or not.
A. Are any music choices made clear? Anything anachronistic? Or does it just all designated as Ennio-esque stuff? I won’t lie, I think some Wu-Tang Clan needs to be in this flick.
B. Are any movies (other than “Charley One-Eye” and “Mandingo”, which you noted) referenced directly in the script? Any other westerns or anything like that?

The Playlist

@YY Good point!

I personally think he would be the best, but again, these aren’t really our picks (but if you read closely, you’ll see our top picks scattered throughout.


Danny Glover was in Lars von Trier’s “Manderlay” so I wouldn’t count him out.

The Playlist

Sidney Poitier cannot be in this movie for what should be obvious reasons if you understand his relationship to black cinema. Not even Stephen.


Isn’t Treat Williams attached to this as well?


@shane: I thought Sidney Poitier would be excellent for Stephen as well. Having a well-respected actor who broke racial boundaries in his day play such a character would be obvious, but still great nevertheless. Clarke Peters is a great choice as well, as anyone who has seen “Mona Lisa” and “Damages” on TV, he is fantastic as an antagonist.

On the flip side, the casting of Waltz is lazy.

BROOMHILDA: thankless role. beef up the part and then cast Nicole Beharie from American Violet


I hope he goes with out of the box choices, so no Sam Jackson, no Rourke, no Keitel, certainly no Brolin. I could even do without Waltz, but the part is obviosly written for him.

If he can get Franco Nero he would be cool has Candie…


great piece that I’m too drunk to finish, well done Oliver (that sounds wanky) I’ll finish it tomorrow but well done.


How about Sidney Poitier for Stephen? and including Sam Elliott somewhere in here?


Good article, guys. Love this sort of thing.


The report of John Hawkes having only a “loose” connection to Tarantino by way of Robert Rodriguez’s “Roadracers” is inaccurate. While it’s true that Hawkes was indeed in “Roadracers”, he played the character of “Pete Bottoms”, the store clerk who is killed along with Michael Park’s Earl McGraw (a staple in the Tarantino [and Rodriguez for that matter] universe) in “From Dusk ‘Til Dawn”. As you know doubt know, “From Dusk ‘Til Dawn” was written by Tarantino – who also starred in the movie – and directed by Rodriguez. So there is a much more direct connection there.

The Playlist

@Shane My favorite choice of yours here is Ben Foster.


Thanks for the article! Great choices, here’s my picks/ thoughts:

Django- Anthony Mackie
Dr King Schultz- Great choice of Waltz but how about Chris Walken?
Broomwilda- Taraji Henson
Calvin Candle- Rourke,Brolin,B.B. Thorton
Stephen- Sam Jackson would be cool, Richard Roundtree would be interesting,
here’s an out of box thought…how about Ernest Thomas of the 70’s “What’s Happening?”
Ace Woody- Ben Foster
Lara Lee Candle-UMA (wasn’t she talking about the project not to long ago?)
Spencer “big daddy”-Michael Parks, Jeff Fahey or Kurt Russell
Leo Mogny-John Hawkes is a great choice but how about Josh Holloway?
Scotty Harmony- Josh Gad
Bartholomew- Michael Clarke Duncan or Terry Crews

The rest are up in the air… What do you guys think of the above? I’m sure more out of left field choices will come to QT or forgotten western/70’s actors.
Can’t wait for this movie!

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