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by Nigel M Smith
December 24, 2012 10:06 AM
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Kerry Washington On Surviving Quentin Tarantino's 'Django Unchained'

Following their work in the Oscar-winning biopic "Ray," Kerry Washington again plays the wife of Jamie Foxx in Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained" -- and the similarities end there. In Tarantino's controversial spaghetti western, Washington plays Broomhilda, the wife of the titular hero (played by Foxx), held captive by a sadistic plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio). When Django gets freed by a German bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz), he sets out on a mission to track down his love and liberate her.

The role, which required Washington to learn German and endure a lot of on-screen torture, couldn't be further removed from Olivia Pope, the high-powered lawyer she plays on ABC's hit nighttime soap "Scandal." Indiewire sat down with the actress in Manhattan to discuss going from "Django" back into the second season of "Scandal," what it was like reuniting with Foxx and working for Tarantino.

When did Quentin first get on your radar?

Mmm. Um, I think I saw "Pulp Fiction" in college and then "Reservoir Dogs" after. Yeah, so I think in college which is kind of the perfect time to it, I think.

I think the thing that's most captivating to me about Quentin, or two things…One is that he has become his own genre. The fact that he is so undefinable. You can't say that it's comedy or drama or romance or action -- but you know what a Tarantino-esque film is. I think that that's just tremendous; to work with someone that's such a visionary, such an original artist. It's pretty phenomenal.

And then, the man is in love with filmmaking. I mean there is nowhere the man would rather be 24 hours a day, seven days a week than on a film set. Film is his love. It's inspiring to be around somebody who's that committed and passionate about the work.

"Django Unchained" TWC
He's cultivated this manic, irrepressible persona thanks to his many TV appearances. What's he like while on a film set?

He's really, again, he's so in love with the process. He's in love with the writing, with the rehearsals, with the editing, with the wardrobe, with the hair, with the lighting…with all of it. You feel like he's doing all of those jobs. I mean he hires really talented people, but then he seems to feel it's his responsibility to be your partner no matter what department you're in. He's doing your job with you. He's in the scene with us; he's never over sitting by the monitor. He's sitting next to the camera, mouthing the words. So you feel like you have a partner in your art at all times.

You have and Jamie worked together on "Ray." Was he the one to recommend you to Quentin?

No, I was the first person that Quentin met for this role. And then he spent, like (laughs), a lot of months meeting with a lot of other people. And then in the end it came back to me.

How did that first meeting go?

It was great. We talked a lot about the script and about the character and where the project came from.

Were you gung-ho upon first reading the script or did you have some reservations?

I loved the script and I thought it was intense, original and important. I thought I had never seen anything like this before and that it had to get made. I didn't know if I was the right person to do it because it scared the crap out of me. I was scared about the places I had to go emotionally and psychologically as an artist.

Did you seek out any advice from mentors in the business about what to do?

It was a long process. I think for him it was, too. He was kind of meeting with lots of people, and then in the end we ended up in the same space.

Jamie's admitted to consulting with Spike Lee and Tyler Perry before signing on. Did you seek anyone out, specifically?

No, not really.
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