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The Truth Comes Out! Will Smith Reveals The Real Reason Why He Rejected 'Django'

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by Tambay A. Obenson
March 25, 2013 10:58 AM
188 Comments
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Will Smith

First, as I said when I reviewed the script for Django Unchained in the spring of 2011, after it was first announced that Will Smith was Quentin Tarantino's first choice to play Django...: 

Django isn’t quite the hero here – not the way you’re probably expecting. For a good 2/3 of the script, he’s playing second fiddle to Christoph Waltz’s character who is essentially Django’s mentor, and the man responsible for his freedom, later providing him with the necessary skills Django needs to eventually challenge the plantation owner who holds his wife captive. Waltz is pretty much playing Hans Landa, the same character he portrayed in Inglorious Basterds... the difference being that he's on the side of “good” here. But, as I read it, I saw Landa all the way - multi-lingual, professorial, cunning, but efficient and deadly when necessary.

In fact, I’d say that Django doesn’t really, fully, come alive until about the last 25 minutes of this almost 3-hour script/movie. And there are circumstances that accommodate that transition – circumstances that felt all-too-convenient. Suffice it to say that just as it takes the assist of a white man to set Django free and on course towards saving his damsel in distress, it also takes the assist (however unintentional) of a white man to finally allow Django his moment to really shine, and get out of the white man's shadow. And even those last 20 minutes, aren't very satisfying.

Waltz is pretty much the show for much of the film, with the occasional unintentionally comedic line from Django, as well as flashback sequences to provide back-story.

I'd be shocked if Will Smith agrees to do this, as is. I can't see it AT ALL! Not only because the part doesn't suit him; not in the slightest; but also because this isn't what I'd really call leading man material. As I already noted, Will Smith would essentially have to play second fiddle to Christoph Waltz for about 2/3 of the film, and I just can't see him signing up for that.

What I think a lot of us would prefer, given your reactions to the initial announcement of this project, is a story centered on some brute slave, fed up with the oppressive system he’s been subjected to for all his life, seething with rage, who courageously takes it upon himself, in the face of near-insurmountable, even deadly adversity, to restore some humanity and dignity to the life he and his family lead. Sure, like Nat Turner, he most likely would be killed in the end, but, I’d rather have that, than this, essentially, black/white buddy action/comedy movie, in the most basic sense.

At the time of that post, Will Smith had reportedly received the screenplay, read it, talked to Tarantino a bit about it, but hadn't yet signed on to play the part.

Of course, he later decided not to star in the film; and while I wasn't necessarily surprised by that, I did wonder why he decided against it.

A year later, in an issue of Empire magazine, Will, while promoting Men In Black III, said the following when asked why he didn't take the part:

"I came really close, it was one of the most amazing screenplays I had ever ever seen... I was in the middle of 'Men In Black 3' and [Tarantino] was ready to go, and I just couldn't sit with him and get through the issues, so I didn't want to hold him up. That thing's going to be ridiculous. It is a genius screenplay."

As I said at the time, I felt Will was being diplomatic, and wasn't entirely honest about why he turned own the part. I felt that the section of his response where he says "I just couldn't sit with him and get through the issues," was particularly telling.


Obviously he had enough "issues" with the script that a sit down with Tarantino was necessary.

And then a week or so later, we got Tarantino's side of the story, who "set the record straight" during the Django Comic-Con panel, saying the following, when asked about Will Smith's casting in the title role:

"Much more has been made out of that than is the case. When I wrote Django, I did not write it for anybody. I had no idea who was going to play it and it was kind of a little bit like, gosh, who is going to play this guy? And so I met with six different actors. "[Will Smith] was one of the people that I met with. And then I met with Jamie [Foxx] and he came over to my house and I was going to put him through the ringer. It was going to be like a three-tier meeting with everybody and kind of really test it out and this and that and let’s do some scenes together. And at the end of this long process, I would make my decision. And, frankly, Jamie was the last one that I got together with and after I got together with him, I called the other guys up and I go, 'Look, I found my Django. And no disrespect and everything and we could have taken it further and I know…' But you just know when you meet the guy and I met the guy."

As I also noted at the time, there seemed to be some conflict between what Tarantino said above, and what was believed to be the case when it was first announced that Will Smith was supposedly Tarantino's #1 choice for the role (casting "top shelf" is what he said from the beginning), with suggestions that Smith didn't take it because of the controversial nature of the part, and also the fact that, as I noted, he'd be playing second fiddle to Christoph Waltz's character for much of the film.

Now, skip ahead to this morning, months after the film debuted in theaters, to an interview posted on Entertainment Weekly's website, in which Will Smith, doing some early press for this summer’s release of After Earth, tells EW that he turned down Django Unchained because... drum-roll... his character would’ve been second-fiddle to the bounty hunter (played by Christoph Waltz) who teaches Django his trade.

“Django wasn’t the lead, so it was like, I need to be the lead. The other character was the lead!” says the Men in Black star, whose departure opened the door for Jamie Foxx to play the role. Smith says that before he left the project, he even pleaded with Tarantino to let Django have a more central role in the story. “I was like, ‘No, Quentin, please, I need to kill the bad guy!’” 

That's deep... He actually pleaded with Tarantino on this, and Quentin apparently didn't want to make the adjustments! 

But his last lament ("I need to kill the bad guy"), I think sums of some of the frustration that many folks (myself included) had with the film's story. What instead happens is that Django maims (shoots him in the knees) and then roasts Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson), the house negro, by burning down the plantation home, as if to suggest that the house negro deserves a worse fate than the slave master/plantation owner himself.

I had several problems with the script/film that I've already detailed in a number of past posts, so I won't rehash everything here. But I really dig the fact that Will Smith didn't compromise (even if it was more of a Will Smith ego thing than a "brothaman" thing), and stood his ground, forcing Quentin to make second and third tier choices - the 6 other actors he met with for the part; actors who apparently were OK with the story as it was (seemingly); or felt that starring in a Tarantino-directed film could be a boost to their careers.

Or maybe the other actors felt as Will Smith did, and Jamie Foxx was really the only one willing to do it as is...

Things that make you go hmmm... all very interesting nonetheless. And also maybe indicative of Tarantino's motivations and intent here. Let's see if he responds.

Clash of the egos...


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188 Comments

  • google | July 16, 2014 4:17 AMReply

    This looks so good...I am speechless..even with that small snippet...i've never seen anything so beautiful in its pres

  • google | July 16, 2014 4:17 AMReply

    This looks so good...I am speechless..even with that small snippet...i've never seen anything so beautiful in its pres

  • google | July 16, 2014 4:17 AMReply

    This looks so good...I am speechless..even with that small snippet...i've never seen anything so beautiful in its pres

  • google | July 16, 2014 4:17 AMReply

    This looks so good...I am speechless..even with that small snippet...i've never seen anything so beautiful in its pres

  • google | July 16, 2014 4:16 AMReply

    This looks so good...I am speechless..even with that small snippet...i've never seen anything so beautiful in its pres

  • disgusted by you people | July 2, 2014 5:12 PMReply

    jesus, its a freaking movie..... who the hell cares who the real lead is, whether or not the black guy gets to kill the bad guy or why will smith really didnt wanna play the role. You people amaze me with the bs you do and call it a job. I only made it here accidentally because I wanted to read something about why they recasted the role of aunt vivian in fresh prince of bel air, something to do with will smith's egomaniacalismnessyness.... seriously though, who the hell cares?

  • Marcel Zachary | May 9, 2014 2:26 AMReply

    I'm glad Will Smith didn't play that movie he was smart for not falling into a category where the white man the hero and the black guy just a sidekick it seems we can't make progress in Film. I didn't really like it. It's not because of Tarantino and it's action sequcners his old days of Pulp Fiction and humor were great then he tried to make violence the motive and less satire and spoof.His old method of filmmaking have been long gone what's he doing with alternating history and not the fact that You wish you could change it. But the real reason why I didn't like it was the fact that it tried make fun of slavery and made it feel like it was joke and less about less of the humanity and the horrendous thing to happen escepically to people like myself why would anyone insult and think something funny about i agree with Spike Lee 100 percent on this one if this movie din't get made we wouldn't be making more slave that are telling the truth but it's the truth I don't want see as entertainment value let alone call it comedy

  • Marcel Zachary | May 9, 2014 2:26 AMReply

    I'm glad Will Smith didn't play that movie he was smart for not falling into a category where the white man the hero and the black guy just a sidekick it seems we can't make progress in Film. I didn't really like it. It's not because of Tarantino and it's action sequcners his old days of Pulp Fiction and humor were great then he tried to make violence the motive and less satire and spoof.His old method of filmmaking have been long gone what's he doing with alternating history and not the fact that You wish you could change it. But the real reason why I didn't like it was the fact that it tried make fun of slavery and made it feel like it was joke and less about less of the humanity and the horrendous thing to happen escepically to people like myself why would anyone insult and think something funny about i agree with Spike Lee 100 percent on this one if this movie din't get made we wouldn't be making more slave that are telling the truth but it's the truth I don't want see as entertainment value let alone call it comedy

  • Marcel Zachary | May 9, 2014 2:26 AMReply

    I'm glad Will Smith didn't play that movie he was smart for not falling into a category where the white man the hero and the black guy just a sidekick it seems we can't make progress in Film. I didn't really like it. It's not because of Tarantino and it's action sequcners his old days of Pulp Fiction and humor were great then he tried to make violence the motive and less satire and spoof.His old method of filmmaking have been long gone what's he doing with alternating history and not the fact that You wish you could change it. But the real reason why I didn't like it was the fact that it tried make fun of slavery and made it feel like it was joke and less about less of the humanity and the horrendous thing to happen escepically to people like myself why would anyone insult and think something funny about i agree with Spike Lee 100 percent on this one if this movie din't get made we wouldn't be making more slave that are telling the truth but it's the truth I don't want see as entertainment value let alone call it comedy

  • Marcel Zachary | May 9, 2014 2:26 AMReply

    I'm glad Will Smith didn't play that movie he was smart for not falling into a category where the white man the hero and the black guy just a sidekick it seems we can't make progress in Film. I didn't really like it. It's not because of Tarantino and it's action sequcners his old days of Pulp Fiction and humor were great then he tried to make violence the motive and less satire and spoof.His old method of filmmaking have been long gone what's he doing with alternating history and not the fact that You wish you could change it. But the real reason why I didn't like it was the fact that it tried make fun of slavery and made it feel like it was joke and less about less of the humanity and the horrendous thing to happen escepically to people like myself why would anyone insult and think something funny about i agree with Spike Lee 100 percent on this one if this movie din't get made we wouldn't be making more slave that are telling the truth but it's the truth I don't want see as entertainment value let alone call it comedy

  • Marcel Zachary | May 9, 2014 2:26 AMReply

    I'm glad Will Smith didn't play that movie he was smart for not falling into a category where the white man the hero and the black guy just a sidekick it seems we can't make progress in Film. I didn't really like it. It's not because of Tarantino and it's action sequcners his old days of Pulp Fiction and humor were great then he tried to make violence the motive and less satire and spoof.His old method of filmmaking have been long gone what's he doing with alternating history and not the fact that You wish you could change it. But the real reason why I didn't like it was the fact that it tried make fun of slavery and made it feel like it was joke and less about less of the humanity and the horrendous thing to happen escepically to people like myself why would anyone insult and think something funny about i agree with Spike Lee 100 percent on this one if this movie din't get made we wouldn't be making more slave that are telling the truth but it's the truth I don't want see as entertainment value let alone call it comedy

  • Marcel Zachary | May 9, 2014 2:26 AMReply

    I'm glad Will Smith didn't play that movie he was smart for not falling into a category where the white man the hero and the black guy just a sidekick it seems we can't make progress in Film. I didn't really like it. It's not because of Tarantino and it's action sequcners his old days of Pulp Fiction and humor were great then he tried to make violence the motive and less satire and spoof.His old method of filmmaking have been long gone what's he doing with alternating history and not the fact that You wish you could change it. But the real reason why I didn't like it was the fact that it tried make fun of slavery and made it feel like it was joke and less about less of the humanity and the horrendous thing to happen escepically to people like myself why would anyone insult and think something funny about i agree with Spike Lee 100 percent on this one if this movie din't get made we wouldn't be making more slave that are telling the truth but it's the truth I don't want see as entertainment value let alone call it comedy

  • Marcel Zachary | May 9, 2014 2:26 AMReply

    I'm glad Will Smith didn't play that movie he was smart for not falling into a category where the white man the hero and the black guy just a sidekick it seems we can't make progress in Film. I didn't really like it. It's not because of Tarantino and it's action sequcners his old days of Pulp Fiction and humor were great then he tried to make violence the motive and less satire and spoof.His old method of filmmaking have been long gone what's he doing with alternating history and not the fact that You wish you could change it. But the real reason why I didn't like it was the fact that it tried make fun of slavery and made it feel like it was joke and less about less of the humanity and the horrendous thing to happen escepically to people like myself why would anyone insult and think something funny about i agree with Spike Lee 100 percent on this one if this movie din't get made we wouldn't be making more slave that are telling the truth but it's the truth I don't want see as entertainment value let alone call it comedy

  • Marcel Zachary | May 9, 2014 2:26 AMReply

    I'm glad Will Smith didn't play that movie he was smart for not falling into a category where the white man the hero and the black guy just a sidekick it seems we can't make progress in Film. I didn't really like it. It's not because of Tarantino and it's action sequcners his old days of Pulp Fiction and humor were great then he tried to make violence the motive and less satire and spoof.His old method of filmmaking have been long gone what's he doing with alternating history and not the fact that You wish you could change it. But the real reason why I didn't like it was the fact that it tried make fun of slavery and made it feel like it was joke and less about less of the humanity and the horrendous thing to happen escepically to people like myself why would anyone insult and think something funny about i agree with Spike Lee 100 percent on this one if this movie din't get made we wouldn't be making more slave that are telling the truth but it's the truth I don't want see as entertainment value let alone call it comedy

  • Marcel Zachary | May 9, 2014 2:26 AMReply

    I'm glad Will Smith didn't play that movie he was smart for not falling into a category where the white man the hero and the black guy just a sidekick it seems we can't make progress in Film. I didn't really like it. It's not because of Tarantino and it's action sequcners his old days of Pulp Fiction and humor were great then he tried to make violence the motive and less satire and spoof.His old method of filmmaking have been long gone what's he doing with alternating history and not the fact that You wish you could change it. But the real reason why I didn't like it was the fact that it tried make fun of slavery and made it feel like it was joke and less about less of the humanity and the horrendous thing to happen escepically to people like myself why would anyone insult and think something funny about i agree with Spike Lee 100 percent on this one if this movie din't get made we wouldn't be making more slave that are telling the truth but it's the truth I don't want see as entertainment value let alone call it comedy

  • Marcel Zachary | May 9, 2014 2:26 AMReply

    I'm glad Will Smith didn't play that movie he was smart for not falling into a category where the white man the hero and the black guy just a sidekick it seems we can't make progress in Film. I didn't really like it. It's not because of Tarantino and it's action sequcners his old days of Pulp Fiction and humor were great then he tried to make violence the motive and less satire and spoof.His old method of filmmaking have been long gone what's he doing with alternating history and not the fact that You wish you could change it. But the real reason why I didn't like it was the fact that it tried make fun of slavery and made it feel like it was joke and less about less of the humanity and the horrendous thing to happen escepically to people like myself why would anyone insult and think something funny about i agree with Spike Lee 100 percent on this one if this movie din't get made we wouldn't be making more slave that are telling the truth but it's the truth I don't want see as entertainment value let alone call it comedy

  • Marcel Zachary | May 9, 2014 2:26 AMReply

    I'm glad Will Smith didn't play that movie he was smart for not falling into a category where the white man the hero and the black guy just a sidekick it seems we can't make progress in Film. I didn't really like it. It's not because of Tarantino and it's action sequcners his old days of Pulp Fiction and humor were great then he tried to make violence the motive and less satire and spoof.His old method of filmmaking have been long gone what's he doing with alternating history and not the fact that You wish you could change it. But the real reason why I didn't like it was the fact that it tried make fun of slavery and made it feel like it was joke and less about less of the humanity and the horrendous thing to happen escepically to people like myself why would anyone insult and think something funny about i agree with Spike Lee 100 percent on this one if this movie din't get made we wouldn't be making more slave that are telling the truth but it's the truth I don't want see as entertainment value let alone call it comedy

  • Marcel Zachary | May 9, 2014 2:25 AMReply

    I'm glad Will Smith didn't play that movie he was smart for not falling into a category where the white man the hero and the black guy just a sidekick it seems we can't make progress in Film. I didn't really like it. It's not because of Tarantino and it's action sequcners his old days of Pulp Fiction and humor were great then he tried to make violence the motive and less satire and spoof.His old method of filmmaking have been long gone what's he doing with alternating history and not the fact that You wish you could change it. But the real reason why I didn't like it was the fact that it tried make fun of slavery and made it feel like it was joke and less about less of the humanity and the horrendous thing to happen escepically to people like myself why would anyone insult and think something funny about i agree with Spike Lee 100 percent on this one if this movie din't get made we wouldn't be making more slave that are telling the truth but it's the truth I don't want see as entertainment value let alone call it comedy

  • Marcel Zachary | May 9, 2014 2:25 AMReply

    I'm glad Will Smith didn't play that movie he was smart for not falling into a category where the white man the hero and the black guy just a sidekick it seems we can't make progress in Film. I didn't really like it. It's not because of Tarantino and it's action sequcners his old days of Pulp Fiction and humor were great then he tried to make violence the motive and less satire and spoof.His old method of filmmaking have been long gone what's he doing with alternating history and not the fact that You wish you could change it. But the real reason why I didn't like it was the fact that it tried make fun of slavery and made it feel like it was joke and less about less of the humanity and the horrendous thing to happen escepically to people like myself why would anyone insult and think something funny about i agree with Spike Lee 100 percent on this one if this movie din't get made we wouldn't be making more slave that are telling the truth but it's the truth I don't want see as entertainment value let alone call it comedy

  • Marcel Zachary | May 9, 2014 2:25 AMReply

    I'm glad Will Smith didn't play that movie he was smart for not falling into a category where the white man the hero and the black guy just a sidekick it seems we can't make progress in Film. I didn't really like it. It's not because of Tarantino and it's action sequcners his old days of Pulp Fiction and humor were great then he tried to make violence the motive and less satire and spoof.His old method of filmmaking have been long gone what's he doing with alternating history and not the fact that You wish you could change it. But the real reason why I didn't like it was the fact that it tried make fun of slavery and made it feel like it was joke and less about less of the humanity and the horrendous thing to happen escepically to people like myself why would anyone insult and think something funny about i agree with Spike Lee 100 percent on this one if this movie din't get made we wouldn't be making more slave that are telling the truth but it's the truth I don't want see as entertainment value let alone call it comedy

  • Marcel Zachary | May 9, 2014 2:25 AMReply

    I'm glad Will Smith didn't play that movie he was smart for not falling into a category where the white man the hero and the black guy just a sidekick it seems we can't make progress in Film. I didn't really like it. It's not because of Tarantino and it's action sequcners his old days of Pulp Fiction and humor were great then he tried to make violence the motive and less satire and spoof.His old method of filmmaking have been long gone what's he doing with alternating history and not the fact that You wish you could change it. But the real reason why I didn't like it was the fact that it tried make fun of slavery and made it feel like it was joke and less about less of the humanity and the horrendous thing to happen escepically to people like myself why would anyone insult and think something funny about i agree with Spike Lee 100 percent on this one if this movie din't get made we wouldn't be making more slave that are telling the truth but it's the truth I don't want see as entertainment value let alone call it comedy

  • Marcel Zachary | May 9, 2014 2:25 AMReply

    I'm glad Will Smith didn't play that movie he was smart for not falling into a category where the white man the hero and the black guy just a sidekick it seems we can't make progress in Film. I didn't really like it. It's not because of Tarantino and it's action sequcners his old days of Pulp Fiction and humor were great then he tried to make violence the motive and less satire and spoof.His old method of filmmaking have been long gone what's he doing with alternating history and not the fact that You wish you could change it. But the real reason why I didn't like it was the fact that it tried make fun of slavery and made it feel like it was joke and less about less of the humanity and the horrendous thing to happen escepically to people like myself why would anyone insult and think something funny about i agree with Spike Lee 100 percent on this one if this movie din't get made we wouldn't be making more slave that are telling the truth but it's the truth I don't want see as entertainment value let alone call it comedy

  • Marcel Zachary | May 9, 2014 2:25 AMReply

    I'm glad Will Smith didn't play that movie he was smart for not falling into a category where the white man the hero and the black guy just a sidekick it seems we can't make progress in Film. I didn't really like it. It's not because of Tarantino and it's action sequcners his old days of Pulp Fiction and humor were great then he tried to make violence the motive and less satire and spoof.His old method of filmmaking have been long gone what's he doing with alternating history and not the fact that You wish you could change it. But the real reason why I didn't like it was the fact that it tried make fun of slavery and made it feel like it was joke and less about less of the humanity and the horrendous thing to happen escepically to people like myself why would anyone insult and think something funny about i agree with Spike Lee 100 percent on this one if this movie din't get made we wouldn't be making more slave that are telling the truth but it's the truth I don't want see as entertainment value let alone call it comedy

  • Will | April 12, 2014 12:27 AMReply

    I appreciate the fact that Will Smith after being unsuccessful in his attempt to have Tarantino to modify the script, turned it down. Tarantino appears to knowingly or maybe unknowingly deprive the lead character of any manhood or dignity. Being treated as if you have no dignity during slavery doesn't mean that slaves had no dignity. Given the way the character is written which appears to be for pure entertainment, one could see why some African American actors would turn this role down. I now see clearly the problem Spike has with Tarantino's depictions of characters and use of some words. A story can be told innumerous ways without insulting the very people wwhopay to see it.

  • Will | April 12, 2014 12:27 AMReply

    I appreciate the fact that Will Smith after being unsuccessful in his attempt to have Tarantino to modify the script, turned it down. Tarantino appears to knowingly or maybe unknowingly deprive the lead character of any manhood or dignity. Being treated as if you have no dignity during slavery doesn't mean that slaves had no dignity. Given the way the character is written which appears to be for pure entertainment, one could see why some African American actors would turn this role down. I now see clearly the problem Spike has with Tarantino's depictions of characters and use of some words. A story can be told innumerous ways without insulting the very people wwhopay to see it.

  • Will | April 12, 2014 12:26 AMReply

    I appreciate the fact that Will Smith after being unsuccessful in his attempt to have Tarantino to modify the script, turned it down. Tarantino appears to knowingly or maybe unknowingly deprive the lead character of any manhood or dignity. Being treated as if you have no dignity during slavery doesn't mean that slaves had no dignity. Given the way the character is written which appears to be for pure entertainment, one could see why some African American actors would turn this role down. I now see clearly the problem Spike has with Tarantino's depictions of characters and use of some words. A story can be told innumerous ways without insulting the very people wwhopay to see it.

  • Will | April 12, 2014 12:26 AMReply

    I appreciate the fact that Will Smith after being unsuccessful in his attempt to have Tarantino to modify the script, turned it down. Tarantino appears to knowingly or maybe unknowingly deprive the lead character of any manhood or dignity. Being treated as if you have no dignity during slavery doesn't mean that slaves had no dignity. Given the way the character is written which appears to be for pure entertainment, one could see why some African American actors would turn this role down. I now see clearly the problem Spike has with Tarantino's depictions of characters and use of some words. A story can be told innumerous ways without insulting the very people wwhopay to see it.

  • Will | April 12, 2014 12:26 AMReply

    I appreciate the fact that Will Smith after being unsuccessful in his attempt to have Tarantino to modify the script, turned it down. Tarantino appears to knowingly or maybe unknowingly deprive the lead character of any manhood or dignity. Being treated as if you have no dignity during slavery doesn't mean that slaves had no dignity. Given the way the character is written which appears to be for pure entertainment, one could see why some African American actors would turn this role down. I now see clearly the problem Spike has with Tarantino's depictions of characters and use of some words. A story can be told innumerous ways without insulting the very people wwhopay to see it.

  • Will | April 12, 2014 12:26 AMReply

    I appreciate the fact that Will Smith after being unsuccessful in his attempt to have Tarantino to modify the script, turned it down. Tarantino appears to knowingly or maybe unknowingly deprive the lead character of any manhood or dignity. Being treated as if you have no dignity during slavery doesn't mean that slaves had no dignity. Given the way the character is written which appears to be for pure entertainment, one could see why some African American actors would turn this role down. I now see clearly the problem Spike has with Tarantino's depictions of characters and use of some words. A story can be told innumerous ways without insulting the very people wwhopay to see it.

  • Will | April 12, 2014 12:24 AMReply

    I appreciate the fact that Will Smith after being unsuccessful in his attempt to have Tarantino to modify the script, turned it down. Tarantino appears to knowingly or maybe unknowingly deprive the lead character of any manhood or dignity. Being treated as if you have no dignity during slavery doesn't mean that slaves had no dignity. Given the way the character is written which appears to be for pure entertainment, one could see why some African American actors would turn this role down. I now see clearly the problem Spike has with Tarantino's depictions of characters and use of some words. A story can be told innumerous ways without insulting the very people wwhopay to see it.

  • Will | April 12, 2014 12:23 AMReply

    I appreciate the fact that Will Smith after being unsuccessful in his attempt to have Tarantino to modify the script, turned it down. Tarantino appears to knowingly or maybe unknowingly deprive the lead character of any manhood or dignity. Being treated as if you have no dignity during slavery doesn't mean that slaves had no dignity. Given the way the character is written which appears to be for pure entertainment, one could see why some African American actors would turn this role down. I now see clearly the problem Spike has with Tarantino's depictions of characters and use of some words. A story can be told innumerous ways without insulting the very people wwhopay to see it.

  • Will | April 12, 2014 12:23 AMReply

    I appreciate the fact that Will Smith after being unsuccessful in his attempt to have Tarantino to modify the script, turned it down. Tarantino appears to knowingly or maybe unknowingly deprive the lead character of any manhood or dignity. Being treated as if you have no dignity during slavery doesn't mean that slaves had no dignity. Given the way the character is written which appears to be for pure entertainment, one could see why some African American actors would turn this role down. I now see clearly the problem Spike has with Tarantino's depictions of characters and use of some words. A story can be told innumerous ways without insulting the very people wwhopay to see it.

  • Will | April 12, 2014 12:23 AMReply

    I appreciate the fact that Will Smith after being unsuccessful in his attempt to have Tarantino to modify the script, turned it down. Tarantino appears to knowingly or maybe unknowingly deprive the lead character of any manhood or dignity. Being treated as if you have no dignity during slavery doesn't mean that slaves had no dignity. Given the way the character is written which appears to be for pure entertainment, one could see why some African American actors would turn this role down. I now see clearly the problem Spike has with Tarantino's depictions of characters and use of some words. A story can be told innumerous ways without insulting the very people wwhopay to see it.

  • Will | April 12, 2014 12:23 AMReply

    I appreciate the fact that Will Smith after being unsuccessful in his attempt to have Tarantino to modify the script, turned it down. Tarantino appears to knowingly or maybe unknowingly deprive the lead character of any manhood or dignity. Being treated as if you have no dignity during slavery doesn't mean that slaves had no dignity. Given the way the character is written which appears to be for pure entertainment, one could see why some African American actors would turn this role down. I now see clearly the problem Spike has with Tarantino's depictions of characters and use of some words. A story can be told innumerous ways without insulting the very people wwhopay to see it.

  • JustMe | March 26, 2014 5:37 PMReply

    God forbid Will Smith play second fiddle to anyone or not be the main attention in a movie. His ego is bigger than it should be. And God forbid he play second fiddle to a white man. Let's call it what it is. Will Smith and his wife are Racist.

  • JustMe | March 26, 2014 5:37 PMReply

    God forbid Will Smith play second fiddle to anyone or not be the main attention in a movie. His ego is bigger than it should be. And God forbid he play second fiddle to a white man. Let's call it what it is. Will Smith and his wife are Racist.

  • JustMe | March 26, 2014 5:37 PMReply

    God forbid Will Smith play second fiddle to anyone or not be the main attention in a movie. His ego is bigger than it should be. And God forbid he play second fiddle to a white man. Let's call it what it is. Will Smith and his wife are Racist.

  • Russ | February 24, 2014 8:44 PMReply

    Haven't read the comments, so I don't know if this has been mentioned, but I believe that there was some symmetry you're missing between the good guys/bad guys.

    You're right that Django was not exactly the lead between the good guy duo; but similarly, Calvin was not really the lead between the bad guy duo. That was the point of having Stephen's death come later and more gruesomely. There are several points in the film that imply Samuel L. Jackson was actually the lead between him and DiCaprio. Some examples:

    1. Calvin treats Stephen as nearly a family member, greeting him with obvious affection and only "pulling rank" once when Stephen is undermining his authority in front of other whites.

    2. Stephen is clearly shown to be both the more cunning of the two in the way he sees through Django's plan and the way he manipulates numerous white people into doing exactly what he wants them to. He is also shown to be at least as cruel as Calvin as he taunts Django with the various tortures he has convinced Calvin's surviving family to skip in favor of a far worse fate.

    3. Stephen acts very superior and condescending to Calvin, drinking his liquor without asking and talking down to him in private.

    4. Stephen is black, which not only aids the symmetry (black hero has white mentor, white villain has black mentor) but also implies that he is willingly involved in the torture, mutilation, and murder of his own people; something many would argue is worse than the transgressions of the whites. (Historically, 'house negroes' were HATED by slaves for just that reason.)

  • Cpaul | February 8, 2014 4:51 PMReply

    So... According to Will Smith's way of thinking, Leonardo DiCaprio is a second class actor because he is not the Lead in this film... But he'll, this is te same man who turned down Matrix to do Wild Wild West... Shame on you and shame on your ego

  • Lee | January 14, 2014 2:48 PMReply

    Of course Tarantino didn't change the movie for Will Smith. Why would he do that? "Hey Quentin, I'll be in your movie if you make it a shitty Hollywood blockbuster starring me in the lead." Thank god he didn't change it and that Will Smith didn't play it. He would have been terrible. We are talking about a guy who said he picked Men in Black III over Django because of issues when those "issues" turned out to be that he wasn't the star. Cry me a river. And to the author of this article, did we even watch the same movie here? I think you missed the point entirely.

  • Thomas | August 16, 2013 4:17 AMReply

    How could the guy who wrote this not see why Samuel L. Jackson's character was the main bad guy. He was traitor to his the African American Slaves. In that time the head house slave practically raised the children of that house. They also became part of the family having all of the white mans ideals instilled into their heads. That's why Django explained how low the head house slave was to the other slave. Jackson's character hated his own kind and probably raised De Caprio's character instilling all of his views (which he got from being so close to the family) onto De Caprio. So L. Jackson was definitely the most evil. It was way more satisfying for Django to kill a traitor like him than it would be to kill De Caprio. It was a great movie very satisfying sure Waltz stole the show but with his acting ability any movie he's in every scene that he's in will just mesmerize the audience. Which is why Quentin had to kill him off 25 min before the movie ended so you could realize the story is about Django and see him finally use everything Dr. Shultz had taught him. It's a great plot turn where the plot essentially switches who the main character is. It would have been a little better for most people if they centered on Django earlier in the movie. But as for me I would never complain about Christoph Waltz getting to much screen time. I love his character I was absolutely mortified over the fact that Tarantino killed him off. I kept waiting for him to rescue Django at the end as he had been throughout the movie, knowing it was an impossibility since he pretty clearly died, only to be completely distraught that Waltz's role in that movie was over.

    Quentin has said he wrote that character for Waltz and would not take no for an answer, he just couldn't wait to put Waltz in another movie and see him perform after inglorious bastards.

  • Thomas | August 16, 2013 4:16 AMReply

    How could the guy who wrote this not see why Samuel L. Jackson's character was the main bad guy. He was traitor to his the African American Slaves. In that time the head house slave practically raised the children of that house. They also became part of the family having all of the white mans ideals instilled into their heads. That's why Django explained how low the head house slave was to the other slave. Jackson's character hated his own kind and probably raised De Caprio's character instilling all of his views (which he got from being so close to the family) onto De Caprio. So L. Jackson was definitely the most evil. It was way more satisfying for Django to kill a traitor like him than it would be to kill De Caprio. It was a great movie very satisfying sure Waltz stole the show but with his acting ability any movie he's in every scene that he's in will just mesmerize the audience. Which is why Quentin had to kill him off 25 min before the movie ended so you could realize the story is about Django and see him finally use everything Dr. Shultz had taught him. It's a great plot turn where the plot essentially switches who the main character is. It would have been a little better for most people if they centered on Django earlier in the movie. But as for me I would never complain about Christoph Waltz getting to much screen time. I love his character I was absolutely mortified over the fact that Tarantino killed him off. I kept waiting for him to rescue Django at the end as he had been throughout the movie, knowing it was an impossibility since he pretty clearly died, only to be completely distraught that Waltz's role in that movie was over.

    Quentin has said he wrote that character for Waltz and would not take no for an answer, he just couldn't wait to put Waltz in another movie and see him perform after inglorious bastards.

  • John | August 16, 2013 3:48 AMReply

    Yeah Will Smith's films do so good because there are a lot more idiots in the world than intelligent people. 60% of Smith films suck balls. Every single Quentin film is amazing. Anyone who think other wise is an absolute idiot who obviously has Zero taste in cinema. You're as big of a dumb ass as the guy who wrote this thesis if you can't see that Django Unchained is an amazing film. Christoph Waltz is one of the greatest actors in the world a hell of a lot better than stupid Will Smith. It's good that he as the lead for most of the movie and a good guy. Damn you people are dumb. I guess that's why shitty music and movies do so well. Because people like you are idiots and idiots are the majority of society. You all suck.

  • JustMe | March 26, 2014 5:52 PM

    Exactly Right

  • John | August 16, 2013 3:48 AMReply

    Yeah Will Smith's films do so good because there are a lot more idiots in the world than intelligent people. 60% of Smith films suck balls. Every single Quentin film is amazing. Anyone who think other wise is an absolute idiot who obviously has Zero taste in cinema. You're as big of a dumb ass as the guy who wrote this thesis if you can't see that Django Unchained is an amazing film. Christoph Waltz is one of the greatest actors in the world a hell of a lot better than stupid Will Smith. It's good that he as the lead for most of the movie and a good guy. Damn you people are dumb. I guess that's why shitty music and movies do so well. Because people like you are idiots and idiots are the majority of society. You all suck.

  • Jimmy from London | August 7, 2013 7:16 PMReply

    Can you hear that whistling everyone? It started not long after Kill Bill came out.
    The sound of Tarantino falling off. This film has a few classy scene but on the whole its all over the place. This movie just makes me wanna watch Blazing Saddles to see this kinda concept done properly and thats a straight up comedy.
    Tarantino actually had the nerve to say he wanted to make a hero for black kids. LOL
    Who Christopher Waltz ?
    Chris Waltz was the man in this film!He was ice cool under pressure and even got to kill the main baddy. Tut Tut its 2013 Why cant Django do it himself?.
    Django was a side kick, the film should of been called the "The Bounty hunter dentist ".
    For me it was let down a cop out. I was expecting some 70s Jim Brown shit! But all we get is Rick Ross music and cameos from the fat Super Bad kid. I'm not fooled by a couple violent scenes , and Di Caprio screaming nigga .There's more to a good edgy film then that.
    What happened to you Quentin?
    What happened to the Pulp Fiction and Reservoir dogs .

  • Donella | July 31, 2013 1:01 PMReply

    Will Smith's movies in which he performed lead have earned more than $5 billion at the box office.

    Quentin Tarantino's movies in which he was director have earned a little more than $1 billion at the box office.

    Will Smith doesn't need Quentin Tarantino to succeed in Hollywood. Tarantino knows it and knows that Will knows it has been pissy ever since. So have a lot of other people and so this pissy discussion continues. Oh well. Piss away.

  • Sterling Cooper | August 7, 2013 7:47 PM

    Donella, I used to think you were just some kind of weird Will Smith fan-worshipper-stalker.

    But now, I'm starting to believe you actually ARE Will Smith.

    Will, is that you, buddy? Come on, you can tell us.

  • GimmeABreak | July 31, 2013 11:15 AMReply

    So, this movie wasn't racist enough for Will Smith ... he would only be in it if he could kill him some honkeys!!
    And Tarantino is full of shit - watch his other pre-release interviews where he clearly states that he wrote this script for a target audience who wanted to see a black man take revenge on those evil, evil, white people (because the lead in Roots didn't get to kill white people, and it made Tarantino incredibly angry that his character "took the high road").
    Jamie Foxx is a goofball and totally unbelievable in any of these serious roles he's been cast in (and even more unbelievable as a singer).
    However, art does imitate life, and this film does a good job of encapsulating the ever growing and increasingly violent black hatred towards whites and "mixed races".

  • Lily | July 4, 2013 11:00 PMReply

    One thing I don't agree with is that Calvin Candie is of average intelligence, I think he's a smart business man first and foremost. However, Steven is all about what's going on around him and quite observant. Hence, he figures out what's really going on. I see Steven as the real villain as he is the most against the duos real objective like Alexander Anthony stated below.

  • Lily | July 4, 2013 10:54 PMReply

    I love Will Smith and yes, he's a mega star and he can pick and choose what he wants to do. He earned that, but Leonardo DiCaprio is just as big a star and did a remarkable job. You don't always have to take the lead to be standout.

  • JustMe | March 26, 2014 6:04 PM

    @ Lily: There is NO Comparison between Leonardo DiCaprio and Will Smith. DiCaprio is a Hell of ALOT More of a Mega-Star than the Racist Will Smith has ever been or will ever be.

  • Quintin Garvin (My Real Name) | June 28, 2013 12:36 PMReply

    Either way you put it when talking about Will Smith not liking the whole second fiddle sh!&
    At the end of day He should have realized just like everybody else coming out of the movie theaters Christmas day. The movie is still called DJANGO. And thats who the people came to see.

  • KJ | June 17, 2013 10:19 PMReply

    agreed - Alexander's analysis below was a really interesting contribution.

  • Lily | May 6, 2013 2:57 AMReply

    Just a few words for Alexander Anthony who commented below: well thought out response. I agree with everything you wrote. Bravo!

  • Alexander Anthony | March 30, 2013 4:38 PMReply

    I have some points to add:

    -Structurally, Calvin Candie doesn't seem to be the villain. Sam Jackson's character Steven is the villain. Steven is the most opposed to Django's objective (having figured it out, he's an intellectual peer). Calvin Candie seems to be incestuous, of average (or less) intelligence, decadent, and perhaps steeped in the homoerotic (his intimate mandingo fighter setting is a hint). Even when Calvin is told about Django's deception (which in itself seemed a bit overwrought) Calvin was open to doing a deal (meaning he's still not opposed to Django's objective, which is the classic definition of an antagonist). Other things that suggest this include: Candie dies relatively early, his objectives against Django do not continue beyond his death because he had few to begin with, and Django faces his greatest challenges after Candie's death.

    -If Calvin Candie is not the villain, then Django did in fact kill the villain... Steven. This suggests that Tarantino is suggesting the truest villainy in slavery is not the act itself - which is horrific - but the fact that we faced keen betrayal by our own to not only make slavery effective... but to make it possible. Slavery as our holocaust without guys like Steven would have likely been impossible.

    -this leads me to Will Smith's accounting. Assuming he reads the structure of the film as I did - his "excuse" for why he didn't do the film is likely bullshit. It's not about killing the villain - but more about being the "lead." Inasmuch as Django was rescued and mentored, the archetype of the white man as both devil (slaver) and inexorable angel (freedom fighter) and rescuer is inevitably projected. And this is uncomfortable politically and artistically.

    And that brings up a really interesting point about the chronicle of displaced Africans in the United States. Ultimately, cultural changes benefiting African Americans have officially been decreed by the oppressing class (rather than say a true revolution from the bottom like the Haitian Revolution). So the discomfort with the archetypal white savior suggests a collective discomfort with certain aspects of history. Perhaps it would have been more beneficial culturally if Denmark Vesey or Nat Turner had bought about emancipation rather than Abraham Lincoln?

    My extremely humble $0.02.

  • sleepy | March 30, 2013 3:13 AMReply

    In '70's films about slavery or post-slavery, such as Buck And The Preacher, or The Legend Of N***** Charley (both actually black Westerns) the main black characters took matters into their own hands---they weren't sitting around waiting for some good white man or woman to show up and help them do a damn thing. I say that because a few posters are saying that "Oh, a black person couldn't have done all that without a white person around to help them." which is nonsense, considering that in real life slaves started insurrections and escaped from their masters all the time. Check this really good article from Slate.com titled "When Blaxpolitation Went West" by Aisha Harris---it gets deeper into the difference bwt those films and DJANGO (which I liked myself, but believe me, I had some problems with--the least also being Tarantino himself.)

  • Bigg Russ | March 29, 2013 1:15 PMReply

    He SO wasn't second fiddle in Bagger Vance.

  • Kelea | March 30, 2013 1:55 AM

    Bagger Vance was 14 years ago.Not comparable b/c he wasn't the huge star he is now.

  • Truth | March 27, 2013 6:29 PMReply

    QT has sensitive negroes in a mind grip. Still talking about his movie and getting yo ears hot!

  • Bee | March 27, 2013 5:48 PMReply

    1) I saw Django recently (got a copy slipped to me and didn't pay a cent for it because this was one film I refused to pay any money to see).

    2) I think the film is utter trash and buffonery and rather tedious, but I can see how some folks enjoyed it. I admit that the KKK scene was fucking hilarious. So, I'm not going to hate on anyone for liking the film. It wasn't my cup of tea is all and, after seeing it, I feel sort of how Spike felt about it.

    3) More importantly, I must say that ya'll cracking me up with this "it wouldn't have been believable to make a black man the lead" argument. Right. Because during slavery times black women slaves had perms (take a look at many of the slave women in the film, even the ones with nappier hair clearly have perms that have been frizzed up to look nappier) and had time to keep their hair looking cute. Right. Because clearly the house negroes (e.g. Stephen) were really running the show during slavery. That's all sooooo believable. Seriously folks? Ya'll killing me. All that, and it still would have been too "unbelievable" to make Jamie or Will the lead and Waltz the sidekick? (And not to mention do more with Kerry's character, but that's a whole other story. I digress.) Miss me with that b.s.

    Please reevaluate your excuses for why Jamie or Will couldn't have been believable as the lead in this already completely fictionalized and unbelievable story.

  • j | March 31, 2013 3:17 PM

    How can you feel the same way a person who never saw the film felt? Doesn't make sense.

  • alexander anthony | March 30, 2013 4:47 PM

    -house slaves - heads of household did really run the show. look into the Haitian Revolution for perfect examples of this. They oversaw meals and managed all the other house slaves. They "bossed" over the other house slaves and were often close to the master. They were often taught to read to further empower them in their duties. This gave them power over field slaves - and house managers often experienced a resultant "Stockholm effect" which is why the notion of the house slave is so culturally reviled. Case in point: Toussaint L'Ouverture oversaw the stables for his master - and was thus a hybrid in/out house slave. He was taught French and had a close relationship with his master. He was so close to the master and his wife, when the revolution started (going from plantation to plantation burning down homes and killing all white folks) Toussaint actually returned to his plantation to give the plantation head a heads-up so they could avoid getting killed. This from the eventual figurehead of the only successful slave revolt in modern history.

    So in short, reconsider your opinions as being less analytical and more formal expressions of irrational emotion.

  • Bee | March 27, 2013 5:54 PM

    I should add that I never get films on bootleg. I made an exception for this film.

  • CareyCarey | March 27, 2013 10:54 AMReply

    IT'S CRYING TIME AGAIN! I can see by the way you hold me darling, that it won't be long before it's crying time, again. Soooooooooooooo, to stop the floodgate of tears, it's RE-POST TIME!

    "Stephen is like the equivalent of Candy's wife. It's really no different than countless films in which we've seen women use their feminine wiles to get men to do what they want. The old "women are really the ones with the power" line. They may not be able to physically maneuver men, but they can influence them. But at the end of the day, Candy, just like most men, rule their domain. It's still very much a patriarchy and Stephen is the "wife." He's Candy's "bitch' to put it bluntly, and Candy could do whatever he wanted to, to Stephen, because he had the power to make anything happen whenever he wanted. Stephen on the other hand, for all his cunning, couldn't do the same to Candy, or anyone else, if he wanted to, because he doesn't have that kind of power or anything close to the power Candy has, and his main motivation is to keep himself alive and in his master's favor. Yes, Stephen has power... but for a house Negro at the time, which is key. Meaning, its relative (compared to Candy's, who I believe is also cunning in his own way, and wasn't fooled by Stephen's act). Stephen's power is very limited.

    I don't think Candy was an idiot at all. Greedy maybe, a businessman, but far from an idiot, just because he didn't spot Schultz's and Django's ruse. That doesn't make Stephen any smarter, nor Candy any less smart. Like I said, that's Stephen's JOB. He's the "Black Informant." Of COURSE he was able to detect the ruse, because he had his eyes fixed sharply on Broomhilde and Django the entire evening. Any dummy could've sensed something was up, if they were doing what Stephen was doing that night. Candy had his eye on the ball the whole time, which was the money and his mandingos. He's about his business. He relies on Stephen to do what HOUSE NEGROS DO BEST which is squeal on other Negroes. If Django and Broonhilde had been written smarter (keyword written) and not given away their alliance at the dinner table, Stephen would've been none-the-wiser, they would've bought Broomhilde and been on their merry way. End of the film.

    But, no, we just have to get some conflict from somewhere to push the story forward and keep it going.

    I seriously doubt that Candy and Stephen sit around and discuss much else about how Candy runs his various businesses. Or that Candy seeks his advice on everything that happens ON THE PLANTATION. Probably the only thing keeping Stephen alive is time. He'd been on that plantation for a very long time, since when Candy's father was running it. He'd *earned* a place at the table you can say. But Candy was no fool, and Stephen's level of power and reach is RESRICTED. Everyone knew who the master of that domain was, including Stephen.

    I didn't feel sorry for him, as someone else suggested. I laughed at him, whether it was all a show or not. I understand his "double consciousness" as a means to survive, but I never felt like he was a real threat (Candy made me far more anxious), but more like a nuisance, and that's kind of how he got dismissed, like an annoying fly to be swatted. His whole death scene was comical.

    And further more, like I said before, even if, in Tarantino's mind, he, Stephen, was the main villain, what does that say about Tarantino's motivations that he'd make a slave revenge movie with evil slave masters and evil slave drivers and traders, but of all those more appropriate villains, he would instead make the house negro, the only other black man in the film with any real screen time in the film, the main villain - and, oh by the way, who doesn't show up until the towards the end of the film? Makes no sense to me.

    It's like, imagine if the argument was made that the main villain in Inglorious Basterds was a Jewish traitor (which is kind of what Stephen is). Not the Nazis, not the Jew hunter. But the Nazi Jew hunter's helper, who happens to be a Jew, cunning his way into a cozy life in his master's domain, like Stephen does with Candy. I'm sure that wouldn't sit very well with Jews. So the takeaway of the story is instead, that the absolute worst person on a slave plantation in a slave revenge film is the house negro. Not the slave masters, not the slave traders, not the slave drivers and all. But the house negro. Right.

    And I wouldn't dismiss Will Smith's intelligence either. I'm referring to your earlier comment about him misunderstanding the script. Will Smith strikes me as a fairly intelligent person who I think could've read the script and reached supported conclusions. And he and Tarantino did discuss the script, so if Stephen was, in Tarantino's mind, the main villain all along, I would think that Tarantino would've explained to Will (especially since he really wanted him for the part) that Stephen was the main villain and his mind, and follow that up with a convincing enough explanation that Will would've come around and understood. But that wasn't even his only complaint. He just didn't feel that Django was the lead character, which many others agree, and which was broken down in the post.

    So if Tarantino felt otherwise, and he really wanted Will for the film, at the very least I'd like to think he would've done his best to explain to Will what he was seeing and thinking, sharing his vision. Clearly they had a conversation or two or three about it before Will passed" ~ Nadia

    DROP THE MIC.... this party is over.

  • Brandon the Hawk | March 27, 2013 9:42 AMReply

    I think Stephen really was running things, but also resented Django being a "free" black man, so he ratted him out, since Stephen was still a "slave." Remember the scene right before the two dogs killed the other slave? Django is on the horse and he is getting dirty looks from the slave next to him. Same thing.

    As for why I say Stephen was running things? When we first see Stephen, he is writing out Candie's checks. When Stephen tells Candie to meet him in the library, he does, and he pours himself his own liquor, sits in the big chair, and Candie listens to him, attentively. When Candie died, Stephen was still giving orders to the remaining white men (like Billy Crash), and they listened to him.

    In other words, Candie was the boss, obviously. But he didn't have the mind for "running business" - he was more focused on watching Mandingo fights. Stephen basically raised him, and helped him run CandieLand. Stephen *acted* like a bumbling fool when in public with Candie, but that act dropped when they were in private.

    The point which was aptly conveyed in several scenes that apparently went over your a few people's head, is that the slaves were attuned to the inner lives of the other slaves as well as to the lives of whites, especially if they lived in the big house. Whites were not attuned to the slaves. They were too busy assuming their own superiority (the long scene about the dimples at the back of the skull).. They thought they knew but they didnt. The other part of it was that some slaves were able to fool and manipuate their owners by using their feelings of superiority against them. Since blacks were so dumb and stupid it wouldn't occur to the whites they were actually being played.

    They discussed their business right in front of the slaves. The slaves acted and revealed only that which whites expected and the minimum of what they needed to know. The uncle tom character of Sam (who was depicted as being trusted enough and literate enough to tend the books) showed that some blacks learned to curry favor with their owners and therefore make an easier life for themseleves. A lot of things he did was to get over. The laughing at every joke, negative statements about the other slaves, seemingly subjegating himself to the masters. He even got away with insulting them right their faces with a laugh. His contempt for whites and his boss was conveyed when he came to tell DJango what fate lay awaitiing him. He basically said the whites were too stupid to figure out what to do with him. He interjected several times suggestions which they ignored because what would some dumb slave know, until the sister came up with the exact idea he had fed the whites.

    The other scene which conveyed his feelings of superiority over his masters was when he threw down his cane, stood up straight, walked straight and started talking with less of an "ignorant" way of speaking during the last scenes when Django returned for revenge. In other words he had played up his age and fragilities to his bosses to get away with a lot and make a better life for himself. Some of his (and others like him) comtempt for the other slaves was real because he felt they were stupid to keep trying to escape only to be brought back and be beaten over and over. He felt he had figured out how best to cope and make the best of a bad deal as the other slaves had not. He got to live in the big house, eat the better food, hear all the gossip and what whites folks were up to, and in time even get to insult the whites, and feel superior to them.

    For me, the reveal was a major scene and many scenes had been played to build that scene up and to reflect back on that scene. He could actually tell his white boss to meet him in the library. Sit there and sip the same liquor has his owner as and equal and his boss didn't even notice it. And, yes, he was willing to do what he needed (including throwing his own people under the bus) to keep his position. No different then a corporate raider or any captain of industry in this day and age. In other words he was ruthless.

  • getthesenets | March 27, 2013 5:57 PM

    @Brandon

    yeah..quote from interview
    ------------
    QT: But when I actually got to Candieland, if we were going to really do this subject justice, we had to deal with the social strata that happens inside the plantation versus the field -- the kind of upstairs-downstairs aspect of how things work between the house slaves and the field slaves.

    And in the script I wrote a big description for Stephen, and I said, "He's sort of like the characters that Basil Rathbone would play in adventures and swashbucklers, where he's the evil guy who has the king's ear. And he sits at the king's side whispering in the king's ear, holding on to his little fiefdom, and manipulating everybody through intrigues of the court."

  • getthesenets | March 27, 2013 5:42 PM

    @Brandon

    that's your take and it's interesting that you wrote that "your take" went over "other people's heads"

    qt himself in an interview with henry louis gates....had a different "take" on the film that HE wrote screenplay for and directed.

    it's still up at theroot(audio and full transcript)

    qt is a clown, no doubt..(so is gates, but it was a decent interview).but he said that stephen was patterned after sniveling manipulating types that might appear in swashbucklers.....the ones who agitate instigate and trick the king to do their bidding

    I just assume that Samuel Jackson being the veteran trained actor that he is....made Stephen a more complex character than what existed in the script .

  • CC | March 27, 2013 10:38 AM

    Brandon, "The only thing you've proven here is that Stephen was cunning, which is kind of a given. He's a house negro, aka, Candy's "black informant" aka throw the other slaves under the bus Uncle Tom, aka Candy's "bitch" to put it bluntly. [Only a blind fool would insist that Stephen didn't have "power"] HOWEVER... Yes, Stephen has power... but for a house Negro at the time, which is key. Meaning, its relative (compared to Candy's, who I believe is also cunning in his own way, and wasn't fooled by Stephen's act). Stephen's power is very limited." ~ Nadia

  • Brandon the Hawk | March 27, 2013 9:41 AMReply

    "Why or How could Schultz shoot Calvin and endanger Django, yadda yadda and why wasnt it Django who did it?" And I can't believe that is a question when you see that his character is having a major breakdown in Act II.

    I see this film in 3 acts. Act I is Schultz taking Django under his wing and training him to be a bounty hunter and basically "free" him. Act II is them working as a team and us seeing Django and Schultz balance their duo act. Act III is Django's starring role as we see him emerge as the hero he was trained to be.

    But Act II is where its apparent that Schultz is now "breaking." It's all over the place in Act II. Even him asking Candie if he may talk to Django, after a mishap, would raise a red flag and Django even scolded him for it. Then Schultz tries to reimburse Candie so the slave won't be ripped apart by dogs. He's breaking even more. The roles of Django and Schultz have now switched as Django is now the one with common sense as Schultz is, simply, losing it. It's obvious the effect of the slave being ripped apart had on him. When Candie is on to them and giving the skull-speech, it is obvious how shaken Schultz is. He is never going to recover from that. When Candie slams the hammer and pretends to smash Hildi, just look at Schultz, he's cowering like a baby.

    The next scene is us seeing him fully engulfed in his downfall. He even loses it and tells the harp player to stop playing. This man is gone. Logic escapes him now. He's not the cool-cat he was in the beginning. In many ways, saving Django caused him to bring himself down and ultimately his own life. I see Django as not only a tale of slavery for black people but slavery in general. The whole portion of Act II is Schultz learning what it's like to be in a slave-like world, being paraded around by Candie and having to oblige him and act like everything is fine despite all the torment he witnesses along the way. He's no longer in charge like he was in Act I.


    The character Django wasn't supposed to be top notch yet. He had the desire, he had the need to reach his goal, but he hadn't been hardened enough in the part of slave turned free man with free will yet. Schultz had to die, to not be there to guide him any longer in order for him to stand up and say "I can do this". He was starting to - he held up under Candie's pressure better than Schultz because he knew the other side of that lifestyle. But he had not yet had to face the fight on his own. He HAD to have that point of no return, and he could ONLY do that without Schultz. That forced him to realize - this is your goal, this is your life YOU are in charge. He wasn't supposed to be charismatic. He was a pupil who was suddenly turned out and forced to realize what he knew all along - that he was a man in his own right.

  • Donella | March 27, 2013 2:32 PM

    Tarantino wrote a flawed script with weak, almost static, under-developed male and female lead actors. Go ahead and write an entire book explaining, justifying, excusing these unfortunate writing mistakes-but the fact that you have to create an entire Wikipedia article to do that pretty much proves the issues with the script that many, not just Will Smith, but many others have pointed out.

  • CinemaMike | March 27, 2013 4:11 AMReply

    First and foremost, I want to say I love Will Smith's films and I love Tarantino and all involved in Django, but from Will's reasons as to why he didn't play Django, it shows that he had a very shallow understanding of the story.

    He says that he found the character to be more of a supporting character, and he wanted to "kill the bad" (which is funny when you consider that Django does kill a bad guy).

    First off, people keep saying Django is boring and that everyone is talking about Stephen, Schultz, and Candie quite often, but those reviews have a lot to deal with the delivery from the actors.

    The thing is Django is always the protagonist in the film, we travel on his journey. Not Stephen, Candie or Schultz. They're people he meets along the way and help shape his life, all for the better for the most part. We watch Django go from a chained victim of institutionalized slavery at the beginning of the film to a confident, sharp-tongued, exceptionally skilled gunslinger to the end. From the beginning of the film, we know Django's main focus, to get back his beloved wife. The skills that Django acquires from his teachings and experiences with Schultz, and eventually Candie and Stephen all help shape the character in the end. When Django gets revenge in the movie against the antagonist, we all root for him. In the end, when he saves the day and starts horse dancing in the end, it's such a celebration, moreso than any other ending for a Tarantino film.

    The fact that Will Smith couldn't appreciate that is quite jarring has he's played many strong characters in the past, like The Pursuit of Happyness or I am Legend. In this film, the protagonist develops his ego towards the end whereas in many of Smith's roles, the character has the ego juice from the start.

    Django is the first and last character we see in the film. It is his story, but he is on an odyssey and so are we. He is the main character.

    Regarding "The Bad Guy". Smith stated that he wanted Django to kill Canide, but this wouldn't have made sense in the slightest. As with Inglorious Basterds advertising, Tarantino has become a genius at false, but eventually rewarding misdirection with his newer films. In Inlgorious, we thought the movie was about Brad Pitt and his group of Nazi-head scalpers killing Nazis when in fact it would about Shosshana revenge against the Nazis, ironically similar to Django's revenge tail. (After all, institutionalized slavery and the holocaust are among the most savage chapters, maybe of all time in the history of human cruelty). It was deceptive that Brad Pitt's role was so small, but it was so rewarding that he wasn't a buddy flick.

    Same with Django to an extent. From the trailers, and if you're watching superficially (or not really paying attention), you would think Calvin Candie is "the" bad guy and that largely has to do with the fact that he is the slave owner. He's definitely a bad guy and his purpose in the story is to serve as a symbol of slavery, pseudo-scientic theories regarding eugenics. The speech he has about the skull and the superiority/inferiority of whites/blacks showed not digustingly ridiculous he was. Dr. King Schultz, as the film progresses, becomes a symbol of abolition and civil rights, justice, human dignity and after Candie's people brutally murdered a slave, he'd rather kill Candie and put his own life in danger (and remember this guy never intended to die) and he does just that. At that moment, he probably believed that Candie was the Devil himself and he killed him. That's why Waltz won the Oscar. Whereas Hans Landa was a Nazi, Schultz, though a fictitious creation, was symbol of the great civil rights leaders that would come. A person willing to die for a cause. Thus, the symbol of oppression (Candie) had to be killed by a symbol of abolition and civil rights (Schultz). Brilliant writing from Tarantino.

    Smith obviously didn't read between the lines, because the truth is that the real bad guy is Stephen (Sam Jackson's character). In this, Tarantino went to another level with the dark secret of slavery: that people will enslave and oppress their own kind for power. From the moment Stephen sees Django, he's so jealous and threatened by Django as a free man that he immediately tries to destroy him.

    Think about it: Candie didn't even know he was being deceived. He only decided to turn on Schultz and Django after Stephen revealed to him that he was being deceived. Then, if you notice, Candie was taking directions from his own slave! The truth was that behind closed doors, Stephen truly was either Calvin's equal or because of the age disparity and the fact that he raised Calvin, above Calvin. Stephen's acts are what cause the mayhem in the second half of the film. All of the people that died in the end were because of Stephen. He, trying to hold onto his grip of power, tried to suppress his own. It's something we didn't know until we saw the movie. It was truly a sad, frightening revelation and because of what Stephen did to Django, it makes him 20 times more evil than Candie. Thus, Django did kill the true bad guy. The guy who is responsible for the death of the people in the second half. Had he not exposed the deception of Schultz and Django to Calvin, Django would've gotten his wife and everyone would've lived.

    I'm surprised Will Smith didn't get that. I'm not saying he's not smart. He obviously is one of the most successful stars in Hollywood. But, his analysis of Django is off.

  • Adam Scott Thompson | March 27, 2013 9:05 AM

    Well said!

  • Mark & Darla | March 27, 2013 1:13 AMReply

    Last week on this website Will Smith was a villain, this week he is a hero, maybe I am thinking to to far out there, maybe I am skeptical of people true motives but did Will Smith read the two negative post last week and decided to distract S&A commenters with his big revelation. Than again Will Smith doesn't care what is said on S&A, S&A ain't no NYT.

    The big question is ,will Tambay continue his angry toward Will on his obvious neglect to hire black screenwriters and directors or will this quench Tambay thirst.

  • Nicholas Gonzalez | March 26, 2013 10:23 PMReply

    I loved your article. I do agree that you are most accurate in how Will Smith viewed the script. I think that is what Will Smith believed. I don't share this view. Quentin is known for his dialogue and plot structure, but there is much to be said about his love for subtext in films. I saw parallels between Django and his dentist, and Candie and his house negro. The difference in Django's relationship with the dentist/bounty hunter, is that they both needed each other in order to be successful. Collaboration, cooperation and camaraderie are traits not easily witnessed in such a time, nor remotely legal. Unlike the opposite pair of adversaries, Django and the Dentist, were equals. Equals of humanity; not race. As illustrated by house negro death scene, Django asks him how many blacks he has seen killed by Calvin Candie as long as he had been alive. "9? 9,999?" Django asks. The house negro played second fiddle to Calvin Candie, despite his own race and more deeply, his humanity. Why wouldn't Django give him the worst death?

  • Justin D. | March 26, 2013 8:47 PMReply

    I knew this post would get a lot of comments. You don't write a piece potentially decrying Quentin Tarantino w/o riling up his fanatical base (as well as his more passionate detractors). I didn't hate the film, which is as much praise as I can heap upon it. From the moment it was announced I knew I wasn't going to love it. I like Tarantino (for the most part) but his handling of the subject of race has always left a bad taste in my mouth, and here he was making a film about slavery. After watching it I'm glad it turned out better than I'd hoped, but I still got that bad taste in my mouth. As for the article, I'm of the mind that Django should have been the primary protagonist of the film and should have been the one to kill Candie. Will Smith is an egomaniac but I think he made the right decision. I couldn't see him in the part anyway. Jamie Foxx is better at supporting roles.

  • Kelea | March 30, 2013 1:52 AM

    I completely agree with this and I've always felt this way about Tarantino. I had similar sentiments.

  • Nappy Queen | March 26, 2013 8:03 PMReply

    Great post. I absolutely love your analysis and will be tuning in to your work more regularly.

  • Rod | March 26, 2013 6:25 PMReply

    Jamie Foxx yes. Will Smith no way!!!

  • ao | March 26, 2013 4:37 PMReply

    Second fiddle? So ya' think Will really preferred the role of Bagger Vance to Django? Second tier? Last I heard Jamie Foxx won an Oscar!

    I like Will but Jamie knocked the role out of the ballpark. Can't imagine a better actor to play Django. Hope he gets to revive the character in a sequel.

  • Curtis | March 27, 2013 9:54 AM

    First, When Will Smith made Bagger Vance, he wasn't the big star that he is today. There's a difference. I'm pretty sure if he was offered Django in the late 1990s, he probably would've taken it. Today, he's a superstar internationally. Why should he share the lead with anyone especially in a film like this? His white contemporaries aren't.

    Second, Jamie Foxx winning an Oscar has meant nothing. Last I heard, Will Smith is the much bigger star and actually has power to get projects greenlit. Jamie is settling for whatever he can get. So much for the Oscar.

  • Adam Scott Thompson | March 27, 2013 9:06 AM

    Ha! Forgot about "Bagger Vance." Turr'ble.

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