Comic Con 2012: Django Unchained panel with Quentin Tarantino, Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz
I don’t even think I need to intro this. We all know DJANGO UNCHAINED and we all want to see it. The panel featured Quentin Tarantino, Jamie Foxx, “Justified” star Walton Goggins, Don Johnson, Kerry Washington, and Christoph Waltz sporting the greatest beard since Val Kilmer.
We were treated to the 8 minute sizzle reel that premiered in Cannes, which itself is pretty much an extended version of the trailer. (There’s very little footage of Washington and Sam Jackson because it they had only shot the first half of the movie when it was made.) It opens with a chain gang being led through the wilderness. Waltz’s Dr. King Schultz approaches in his dentist wagon (which humorously features a dirty tooth on a spring) and confronts the men in a friendly manner before shooting both of them and making off with Django. The slave agrees to be a bounty hunter and help him capture the Brittle Brothers in exchange for finding and rescuing his wife. There’s a few training sequences, including one where Django lights up a snowman, prompting Waltz to say “Well, it’s safe to say you’re faster than a snowman.”
Eventually they make their way to Don Johnson’s plantation, with Django wearing the frilly, bright blue suit you see in the trailer. Johnson sends him along with the other slaves, but King Schultz insists that Django is a free man and offers to pay the plantation owner well if he treats him well. Upon hearing of his freedom, one of the slaves says, “You mean, you wanna dress like that? Not long after Django spots one of the Brittle Brothers (played by the great M.C. Gainey) working in the field and immediately walks up to him and shoots him. “I like the way you die.” This leads in to a quick action-filled montage of Django whipping white guys, shooting people, and Leonardo DiCaprio’s smooth talking villain. It ends with the great shot of blood being sprayed on white cotton.
- Tarantino said the idea for the film has been kicking around in his head for 13 years. He always wanted to do a “spaghetti surrealism western” and didn’t need to stylize it as much as his other films since the time period was already nightmarish and outrageous. It deal with slavery in the way that westerns bend over backwards not to deal with it.
- On any controversy with film’s subject matter: Foxx said, “We’re all big boys now” and that great acting can help audiences overcome it. Foxx grew up in racially charged part of Texas where he was called the N-word as a kid, so he was able to connect with the script as it paralleled his life.
- The dynamic between Dr. King Schultz and Django isn’t the typical “slave being rescued by a white person” trope. Tarantino said it recalled the mentor-mentee relationship from movies like NEVADA SMITH, DAY OF ANGER and even EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. Waltz’s character has a backstory that he and Quentin created that’s not in the film but involves him being a fugitive from his home country.
- Leonardo DiCaprio’s Calvin Candie likes to watch slaves fight each other and Walter Goggins plays his “mandingo fight trainer.” He’s a bad guy but Goggins says Tarantino likes to give you every perspective and he considers himself a working man who still works for The Man too.
- From Tarantino’s research he considers slave plantations almost like big corporations run by families.
- Candyland is the 4th largest cotton plantation and Leo is like the king and Goggins and Samuel L. Jackson the two CEOs. Jackson play’s Leo’s house slave and is essentially his father, having raised him his whole life. He’s the only person Leo listens to, which creates an interesting dynamic. Tarantino called him the scheming man whispering in the king’s ear like Basil Rathbone.
- Don Johnson asked to be called by his character’s nickname Big Daddy during the panel. Big Daddy is a kinder, gentler, more lovable slave owner who can really rock a white suit. (This promoted Tarantino to say “We have Crockett AND Tubbs in the same movie!”) Johnson studied a lot of Foghorn Leghorn to get his accent right.
- Kerry Washington plays Broomhilda Von Shaft, a slave who was raised by Germans and she learned to sing and speak the language. She said the film scared the shit out of her but diverting herself to studying German and horseback riding helped her get through it.
- Don’t expect Washington’s character to kick ass like The Bride in KILL BILL. Tarantino loosely based the story on the German fairytale of Siegfriend and Washington plays the princess in peril who’s strength lies in her love for Django and trust that he’ll rescue her.
- The director also said there would be one connection that linked two characters in the Tarantino universe. And he also claimed that Django and Broomhilda Von Shaft will have a baby that eventually leads to John Shaft. They’re the “great great great grandparents of Shut Yo Mouth.”
- Jonah Hill has a small role in a sequence with Johnson. The Regulators, the predecessor to the KKK who tried to keep slaves from escaping, lead a raid against Django and Schultz. Tarantino said he tapped into a fundamental issue with their racist organization and said the scene is “one fo the funniest sequences I’ve written since the handing of the names/colors in RESERVOIR DOGS.” Sasha Baron Cohen is not in it and Tarantino ended up taking his sequence out of the movie altogether.
- Everyone confirmed that Tarantino’s film knowledge is ridiculous. He remembered a Don Johnson movie that Johnson didn’t even recall being in. Washington called him her “film professor.”
- And sorry, KILL BILL fans… a third movie is not in the works. Tarantino said his original plan was to wait at least 10 years before following up on the story, so he hasn’t even thought about it. He did say that this movie and KILL BILL are the two biggest adventures he’ll make.
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|Extra Tidbit:||Tarantino wore a shirt to the panel that showed toddler versions of all his characters on a playground.|