By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist September 16, 2011 at 1:01AM
After several films in a row where he's cast either relative unknowns ("Death Proof"), or scattered A-listers among an eclectic cast ("Inglourious Basterds"), Quentin Tarantino has been heading towards his starriest-ever cast for slavery Western "Django Unchained." Biggest-movie-star-in-the-world Will Smith might have turned him down in favor of a M. Night Shyamalan film (a decision that will likely come back to bite him in the ass), but 'Django' isn't suffering too badly: Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx took the title role, and has the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz and Samuel L Jackson all in support.
However, the film's now one movie star down, as a tweet from Variety staffer Justin Kroll brings news that Kevin Costner, who was said months ago to be in talks to play Ace Woody, the mandingo trainer that serves as villain Calvin Candie (DiCaprio)'s right hand man, won't be in the picture. Costner was widely thought to be a done deal, but apparently not; Kroll says that he passed due to scheduling conflicts.
The actor's been firmly on the comeback trail of late, booking Django after a role as Pa Kent in Zack Snyder's "Superman" reboot "Man of Steel." It's possible that conflicts with that film caused the conflict, but we'd be surprised, as neither role was huge, and we imagine schedules could have been worked out. It's more likely that "The Hatfields & The McCoys," the History Channel-adaptation of the legendary Western feud that sees Costner reunite with his "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" director Kevin Reynolds, is to blame.
Or it may just be that Costner simply lost his nerve over a particularly unsympathetic part in a film that's already likely to get tensions running high. Either way, it'll be interesting to see who replaces the actor -- we had a number of suggestions when we read the script, headed up by the couldn't-be-more-different Danny McBride. So, you know, Quentin, if you're really stuck? Our commission is pretty reasonable... "Django Unchained" will hit theaters on Christmas Day, 2012.