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Idris Elba Tweets Spark Speculation Of An Audition For Quentin Tarantino's 'Django Unchained'

by The Playlist
May 30, 2011 6:33 AM
20 Comments
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English actor Idris Elba, still best known as Stringer Bell from David Simon's epic HBO series, "The Wire," tweeted this weekend, "Having one of the biggest meetings of my professional life today...meeting a very controversial director for a very controversial part." And the Internet pretty much lit up with speculation.

"I wish I could tell you more but...in due time," he added."On the plane to the destination of my fate.....ok.... a lil dramatic....destination of my life..?"

Almost immediately, tweeps and pundits started asking: what kind of potentially major role makes Idris Elba so melodramatic? Could it be the lead role in Quentin Tarantino's slavery epic, "Django Unchained"? After all, "Django Unchained" is a controversial powder keg of racial politics and what other African American roles have made this much of a stir of late? Our IndieWIRE brethren at Shadow & Act were the first to ask and pose this question and we'll be honest, the thought crossed our minds immediately as well.

But wait, isn't Will Smith in line for the lead part of an American slave who teams up with a German bounty hunter to track down his enslaved wife and wreak havoc and revenge on all those that cross their path? Yes, Quentin Tarantino went as far as letting Sony land foreign rights to the picture because Sony is essentially the home of Will Smith (the Weinstein Company has domestic rights, natch). So what's going on exactly?

Well, one of several things is possible, but of course this is all fun speculation, but here goes.

1) The role is too controversial for Will Smith's clean-cut, African-American version of Tom Cruise's image and he's decided to politely decline the role.

2) Elba could easily be auditioning for another role in the film, though yes, Django is the plum role in the film. Perhaps it's possible, that Samuel L. Jackson is not interested in the role of Stephen, the black slave who is the right hand man of the main villain in the picture, and Elba is auditioning for the part instead. Arguably, since Stephen is a house slave who colludes with his white master and hates on his fellow black slaves the role is more controversial than the Django character.

3) Elba is actually auditioning for Marvel's Luke Cage and has the internet all fooled. J/k.

4) Any # of things we all aren't privy too, an entirely different role, etc.

The hope is choice no. 1, frankly. While we still prefer our casting pick of fellow "The Wire" alumnus Michael K. Williams, almost any African American actor seems better than the squeaky-clean Will Smith. Yes, Smith can act when he wants to and taking the role could be a very subversive move and it ensures an major box-office both domestically and internationally, but as far as interesting and adventurous casting and letting a great thespian take the role, we can probably think of a dozen actors we'd rather see in the part.

So is Idris Elba auditioning for the lead or any part in "Django Unchained"? It's possible, but to say definitely would be speaking without any facts. To be honest, this writer would be pleased as punch if the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air had moved on, but we assume we'll know more soon; these various reports will precipitate further news during this upcoming week.

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20 Comments

  • Donella | September 13, 2011 10:49 AMReply

    I am proud and thankful that Idris Elba an actor who I admire had the strength of character and courage of his convictions to pass by this theatrical humiliation and gratuitous cinematic exploitation of black women. Instead, he chose to work with Ridley Scott, a director who chooses to emphasize strong women in featured roles (instead of as victims/toys for degradation).

  • Iconic | June 1, 2011 6:30 AMReply

    I know who ever lands this role will, rock it ! as both men give the roles they play, heart and soul.....I cant wait to see if they cast Jrnie Jade fm dallas tx as one of the principals...this would truly be a great match up

  • Tom | May 31, 2011 3:47 AMReply

    WILL SMITH IS TRUE DEAD - SET NEW ZEALAND VIDEO WATCH - http://bit.ly/jFzzwW

  • Edward Davis | May 30, 2011 10:24 AMReply

    Try reading, Nick, you non-racist. We call the role an African American one (which it is) and call Smith African American, which is also true.

  • gonad | May 30, 2011 9:59 AMReply

    Idris Elba has come a long way since he was in the Channel 5 soap Family Affairs!!

  • anon | February 25, 2012 5:17 PM

    lol although the wire was troubling i guess it was a means to an end and paid off however sterotyical the role was.

  • Nick. | May 30, 2011 9:56 AMReply

    You mention in the very first sentence that Idris Elba is English, and then go on to reference him as "African American" like three times. "African American" isn't a term you can just attach to anyone of color...I mean you kinda have to be American too. Racist.

  • The Playlist | May 30, 2011 8:53 AMReply

    ha, yes, let's start that rumor!

  • Sean | May 30, 2011 8:52 AMReply

    Maybe he's trying out for a super secret filming of von Trier's Washington?

  • Stephen | May 30, 2011 8:24 AMReply

    I'm pretty much just excited whenever anyone from The Wire is cast in anything that doesn't involve Ice Cube.

  • Marko | May 30, 2011 8:16 AMReply

    Maybe we've all been fooled and he's actually been cast in the Nymphomaniac.

  • Nik Grape | May 30, 2011 8:15 AMReply

    I didn't see Happyness either, only because the premise turned me off faster than an unshowered two-dollar hooker could.

    If there was an industry term for "boring", Will Smith would be the ultimate example. Nothing about him is exciting anymore. QT is just about one of the few directors who could change that, but I would rather see him not try.

    Idris Elba would be a great choice. Here's hoping.

  • Kevin Jagernauth | May 30, 2011 7:38 AMReply

    Hey wait, does this mean I should check out Happyness?

  • The Playlist | May 30, 2011 7:31 AMReply

    He's not? SHUT DOWN THE INTERNET

  • Ken | May 30, 2011 7:31 AMReply

    "While we still prefer our casting pick of fellow “The Wire” alumnus Michael K. Williams"

    Get over it, it's not happening. QT isn't gonna look to you guys for casting suggestions. I'm sorry.

  • Zack | May 30, 2011 7:25 AMReply

    I wouldn't be too bothered if Smith takes the role, mostly because I trust Tarantino not to cast anyone he won't get brilliant work out of, however counterintuitive (Eli Roth excepted, of course, but Eli Roth doesn't have two Oscar nominations). That said, I'd love if Elba got the part, not least because it would get him that much closer to the A-list.

  • rodie | May 30, 2011 7:14 AMReply

    Will Smith is of course talented. Unfortunately he's not the type of actor that really disappears into a role (even in Ali), so while he's a good actor, certain roles just don't fit him the way certain roles don't fit Tom Cruise or Julia Roberts.

    Elba would be a far greater choice because he has chops and doesn't bring tons of celebrity to the table.

  • The Playlist | May 30, 2011 6:53 AMReply

    I agree, he was wonderful in Six Degrees Of Separation. That role was also also in 1993, 18 years ago. He was also very good in "The Pursuit of Happyness," but if you look at his body of work, it's filled with a lot of crap.

  • Papushi | May 30, 2011 6:53 AMReply

    God I hope Smith takes the role and I hope Elba's in it as well.

  • Ryan | May 30, 2011 6:49 AMReply

    I disagree. I think Will Smith has a lot of untapped potential. I would love to see him in the role. He was great in Six Degrees of Separation and Ali.

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