Leonardo DiCaprio In Early Talks For Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained’

EXCLUSIVE: Talks are about to get underway for Leonardo DiCaprio to play the role of villainous ranch owner Calvin Candie in Django Unchained, the Sergio Leone-style spaghetti Western that Quentin Tarantino wrote and will direct as his next film. DiCaprio is being courted to play a charming but ruthless proprietor of 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 the freed slave Django must cross him in order to reclaim his wife.

Now, deal making discussions are just getting underway, but I’m told there is a much higher likelihood of DiCaprio taking part in the film at this point than Will Smith, who had been reported as lead candidate to play the title role of DJango, a slave who is liberated and taught the tricks of the trade by a German dentist-turned-bounty hunter. That role is expected to be played by Christoph Waltz, who won an Oscar playing Hans Landa in Tarantino’s last film, Inglourious Basterds. Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction star Samuel L. 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.

The courtship of Smith for the role of Django has gone on for so long that I’m persuaded it has become a long shot. At this point, I’ve heard alternative names that include Idris Elba, Jamie Foxx and Chris Tucker. The latter is a surprise because he hasn’t starred in a movie since 2007′s Rush Hour 3, but he showed some serious dramatic chops playing a memorable small role in Tarantino’s Jackie Brown.

The emergence of DiCaprio as the film’s main villain is intriguing. Candie in some ways is comparable to the polished but loathsome Landa in Inglorious Basterds. That role intrigued DiCaprio in the formative stages when Tarantino was just formulating a cast. It didn’t come together and Tarantino decided he wanted an actor who could speak German as well as other languages. Waltz proved a glove fit for that role and it was impossible to read Django Unchained and not see Waltz in the role of Dr. Schultze. Candie is every bit as colorful and ruthless a villain as Landa was. DiCaprio next stars as FBI director J Edgar Hoover in the Clint Eastwood-directed J Edgar. Django Unchained is being produced by Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction producer Stacey Sher, along with Pilar Savone.

Comments (75)

  • Omar from The Wire is the only choice. Jaime Foxx? God no.

    Comment by Jason — Tuesday June 7, 2011 @ 8:10pm PDT  
    • Yes that is a perfect choice. Omar will rock that. Will smith idk. Tucker? Heck no. Elba? Ehhhhh. Maybe a Michael Ealy.

      Comment by Anonymous — Wednesday June 8, 2011 @ 9:30am PDT  
      • God, that would amazing. Mike K. is the perfect, perfect choice. He would rock that role so hard…

        Comment by The Man Who Knows Things — Wednesday June 8, 2011 @ 11:14pm PDT  
    • Michael K. Williams for sure!!!!! How do you not give this brother more roles in Hollywood? Look at him in Boardwalk Empire……the black MIchael Douglas

      Comment by Inonimus — Thursday June 9, 2011 @ 9:38am PDT  
  • Why not go to Sam Jackson? He’ll put butts in seats. Leo has yet to go head to head against him and I’d pay money to see it happen.

    Comment by random dude — Tuesday June 7, 2011 @ 8:11pm PDT  
  • God this sounds CRAZY!… In the best way. Idris Alba PLEASE! That is one yummy piece of chocolate.

    Comment by some black chick — Tuesday June 7, 2011 @ 8:11pm PDT  
    • The issue with Elba is that the guy is so physically intimidating he cannot blend into a crowd. When he is on screen, its impossible not to feel him as a threat. Django needs to blend in on some level. He needs to appear to not be a threat and then surprise people with his ability. He also needs to be able to grow significantly in the second act from “just another slave” to a hunter.

      Comment by I see issues — Tuesday June 7, 2011 @ 10:42pm PDT  
        Idris Elba is the only choice, and will be superb.

        Comment by DJT — Wednesday June 8, 2011 @ 7:13am PDT  
      • That’s just leftover Stringer memories talking.

        Comment by JAI — Wednesday June 8, 2011 @ 11:29am PDT  
  • I would so much rather Idris Elba in that role than Smith (or any of the others mentioned, though Chris Tucker is intriguing). Please make it so.

    Comment by Mike — Tuesday June 7, 2011 @ 8:13pm PDT  
    • Michael Jai White from Black Dynomite might also be an interesting choice. Tucker’s voice is a bit too high to really work, no matter how good he was in Jackie Brown. Elba is the best choice overall.

      Comment by Melody Be — Wednesday June 8, 2011 @ 8:15am PDT  
  • If you did basic research you’d know that Leo’s grandmother was German and he is fluent. Therefore, language was not a factor in him not being cast as Landa.

    Comment by Duh — Tuesday June 7, 2011 @ 8:14pm PDT  
    • If you’d done a lick of research you’d know Leo can speak very minimal German, only a few words.


      Comment by Duh yourself — Tuesday June 7, 2011 @ 9:13pm PDT  
    • Leo’s mother is German, but he would be the first to tell you he is not fluent in German. I’m sure he could learn one language he’s familiar with for a role, but all the other languages… probably not.

      Comment by Biri — Tuesday June 7, 2011 @ 9:18pm PDT  
    • Leo aint fluent in German but I’m sure he could be if he really wanted to

      Comment by woody — Wednesday June 8, 2011 @ 9:59am PDT  
  • Michael k Williams should play django. Only guy who fits.

    Comment by Will — Tuesday June 7, 2011 @ 8:18pm PDT  
    • Yes, Michael K. Williams would be fabulous, and dare I say preferable to Idris Elba.

      Comment by Amy — Wednesday June 8, 2011 @ 3:59am PDT  
  • If Will Smith doesn’t do this, they need a face to open this film and they can do it with Leo. But he doesn’t fit the part and it would be really great if they get this roll right. It needs to be someone who you believe is able to create, control, and maintain an evil empire deep in the south during slavery. Leo is too young, too pretty, and not “country” enough.

    Comment by it would be about marketing — Tuesday June 7, 2011 @ 8:23pm PDT  
    • Johnny Depp is from Kentucky. I reckon he would be exceptional. His accent in Public Enemies and The Astronaut’s Wife was good.

      Comment by angela — Tuesday June 21, 2011 @ 10:09pm PDT  
  • Fucking A — this is what I’m talking about!

    Btw Will Smith would be good for the BO, but Jamie Foxx is PERFECT for this damn role!

    Re-reading script with this cast in mind!

    Comment by Cyber Hater — Tuesday June 7, 2011 @ 8:28pm PDT  
  • Forget Will Smith! I hope that Tarantino casts Idris Elba as Django.smith has a habit of playing it safe.i don’t think he wants his squeaky clean image being tarnished and besides he proably wanted his kids to have roles in the film and come on board as a producer which did’nt sit well with Quentin.

    Comment by bukowski1980 — Tuesday June 7, 2011 @ 8:39pm PDT  
  • Whoah…

    Comment by Ben — Tuesday June 7, 2011 @ 8:51pm PDT  
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