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Kerry Washington Will Be Jamie Foxx's Slave Wife Broomhilda In "Django Unchained"

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act October 26, 2011 at 3:38AM

Well... she was rumored to be at the top of Quentin Tarantino's list for the part, from the get-go, so I guess this shouldn't be much of a surprise. Though I'm curious who else they looked at.
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Well... she was rumored to be at the top of Quentin Tarantino's list for the part, from the get-go, so I guess this shouldn't be much of a surprise. Though I'm curious who else they looked at.

From Deadline:

Kerry Washington has won the role of Broomhilda in Django Unchained. Director Quentin Tarantino made his choice and The Weinstein Company began exclusive negotiations with her CAA reps last night. She’ll play the long suffering slave wife of Django (Jamie Foxx), who is freed by a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) and taught the tricks of that trade.

Deadline notes that while she was Tarantino's choice from the beginning, the possibility of "making a discovery in the role" appealed to him, and he did perform "a long casting search before settling on Ms Washington for what is essentially the film's female lead.

I must say though that I didn't at all expect Kerry Washington to take the part, given what I read in the script. I thought the role would likely go to a young up-and-comer instead.

You may or may not recall this section from my review of the film's script:

Speaking of its blaxploitation influences… regarding the lead female character in this, named Broomhilda, Django’s slave wife, whom he’s separated from, and seeks. She’s the lead female in the film, but her part is limited to really just physicalities. She has the most screen time of any other woman in the film, which is why I call her the lead female character, but, really, there’s no Shosanna in this one, as there was in Inglorious Basterds. The black female “lead” here doesn’t get the same kind of dignified treatment that Tarantino gave Shosanna. Not even close. Yes, I know it’s a different time altogether, but, I’m sure he could have afforded Broomhilda some complexities, and maybe even made her a heroine in her own right.

There are some 4 or 5 scenes in which the she's, shall we say, "exposed"… i.e. naked; and they felt gratuitous to me; 2 in which she's raped by white men. When we first meet her, she's on the auction block and asked to bare her breasts to potential buyers; later, she's chased through a hotel, through hallways, and lobbies, etc, by a slave master, completely naked, after being woken up from sleep, with a whip across her naked body; and still later, she's locked up naked in a steel box as punishment for trying to run away.

Yes, I’m sure these are all scenarios that very well likely could have played out at the time; HOWEVER, Tarantino could have opted to depict her in another light altogether, but instead chose this less flattering, exploitative one. If the intent here is to elicit sympathy for her, and, in turn, ensure that we hate her captors even more, justifying their eventual comeuppance, it certainly doesn't. Not for me anyway - as someone who's already familiar with the atrocities of slavery, and didn't feel like I needed to see a character that's really the female lead in the film, essentially exhibited almost like Saartje Baartman (aka the Hottentot Venus) was.

I'm betting Tarantino will likely get a well-endowed black actress to play the part, not-so unlike, as I already made comparisons to, the blaxploitation films of the 70s, the most famous female face (and body) of the era, Pam Grier.

Who exactly will take this particular role, I don’t know. It’s not the most glamorous, nor complex. Although, I’m sure there are a lot of actresses who’d gladly sign up for it.

So... unless there have been changes made since the draft of the script many of us have read, this is pretty much a summary of the character Washington will play here.

Granted, the completed film may not be a page for page copy of the script, nor is the experience of watching a film comparable to reading the script its based on; also, gratuitous violence is maybe more Tarantino's forte than exploitative sexuality; so, I could be totally off about this, and the final product, when it's in theaters next year, may resonate very differently.

Though I should again emphasize the script's obvious blaxploitation influences, for whatever that's worth.

But to be frank, this isn't a film that I want to see made anyway, given all I've read about it thus far.

We'll see...

This article is related to: casting, Things That Make You Go Hmm...


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