By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist June 22, 2011 at 1:05AM
Yes, this bit of news is coming just from a tweet right now, but it comes from someone who has been on point for some of the biggest news surrounding Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained" thus far. Former Creative Screenwriting magazine Senior Editor and host of "The Q&A" podcast Jeff Goldsmith tweeted yesterday evening, “Will Smith is out! Inside sources tell me that Tarantino has chosen Oscar winner @iamjamiefoxx to play Django! #fb” If you have your doubts, Goldsmith was one of, if not the first person to tweet about Will Smith‘s interest in Quentin Tarantino’s Spaghetti Western slavery epic. And he also was hip to Leonardo DiCaprio's involvement before it got to the trades. Clearly, Goldsmith's sources are pretty well informed.
While Quentin Tarantino actively sought out Will Smith for the lead role -- with the actor's longtime home Sony landing the foreign film rights in an effort to lure Smith -- the writing has been on the wall for a while now. With days turning to weeks, it quickly became apparent Smith might not be so hot on the role and assortment of other names including Jamie Foxx, Idris Elba and Chris Tucker began entering the mix. In fact, if you like a good conspiracy, there have been some suggestions that the Weinsteins involvement in Paul Thomas Anderson's Scientology skewering "The Master" put Smith off of working with the studio completely, but of course, that's just a rumor. However, Foxx stepping into the lead role is frankly, just as strong a substitute both from both a business and artistic standpoint.
Not only is Foxx a big enough star to keep the backers happy in lieu of Smith, but he’s also a good fit for the role—not as imposing as Elba (Django is described as being fairly slight), not as annoying as Tucker -- with action experience and an ability to turn out good performances when he’s not slumming it in “Valentine’s Day” and “Law Abiding Citizen.” It should also be noted, we were also told a couple weeks ago by Warner Bros. that they’d been pursuing Foxx for a role in “Gangster Squad,” but that the scheduling didn’t work out—was Foxx holding out for “Django Unchained?”
Add it all up, and we're pretty sure a story will be hitting the trades about Foxx being in negotiations for the film in the near future (it was about a week between the DiCaprio tweet and the news hitting outlets). Should it all work out, he’d join Christoph Waltz, as benevolent German bounty hunter Dr. King Schultze, Samuel L. Jackson as the villain’s right-hand man and head house-slave Stephen, and Leonardo Di Caprio, as the villain, Calvin Candie (who last we heard was still in talks). "Django Unchained" hits theaters on Christmas Day 2012