You probably know him best as Omar Little from "The Wire" or perhaps as Chalky White in "Boardwalk Empire," and if you've seen his imposing presence on either of those shows, you'll know why many people (including us) pegged him as the perfect lead for Quentin Tarantino's upcoming picture, "Django Unchained." The spaghetti western/slavery revenge pic has been gearing up over the last few months for a planned January shoot in New Orleans. After much speculation that saw Will Smith openly courted for the movie (with the actor's longtime studio home of Sony even going so far as to snap up the foreign territory rights on the project in an effort to entice the thesp), Jamie Foxx eventually landed the part. As we noted in our wishlist casting for the movie, Django begins the film "a confused and muttering slave, clueless and suspicious why [Schultz played by Christoph Waltz] has saved and befriended him" to later become a "cut-throat and eagle-eyed assassin." While Foxx has the "movie-ness" factor we figured would come into play in any casting decisions, Quentin Tarantino was definitely on the same wavelength as everyone else who had Williams on the brain.
Speaking to Shadow & Act, Williams revealed that not only did he meet with Tarantino for the lead, but he may be in "Django Unchained" just yet. "The rumors of me being considered for the lead role in 'Django [Unchained]' is very true. I was in meetings with Quentin, QT as I call him. It came down to Jamie and I," Williams confirmed. "Wow… what a person to lose to. It’s not official yet but there’s a lot of talk that there may be a role coming back ‘round my way.' "
Asked to elaborate, Williams remained coy, but hopeful. "Yes another role in the film. It’s not official yet but there’s a chance. His people and my people have been in discussions in regards to a role that he is creating for me."
The key word in there is "creating." There are no other major black roles in the film aside from Stephen, baddie Calvin Candie's top slave, being played by Samuel L. Jackson. However, there is Bartholomew, the silent bodyguard for Candie, but in the draft we read, he's a larger brute, hence our suggestions of Malik Yoba or Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister. If Tarantino is indeed doing a rewrite -- and from what we read, the script could use a bit of tightening up -- we wouldn't be surprised if Bartholomew is maybe refigured for Williams. Or hell, QT could be creating a whole new character and adding it into the mix. There are also a handful of much smaller slave characters -- who have maybe one or two lines each -- but we don't see those parts growing any larger. Nor do we see Williams showing up to read two lines.
Regardless, it's another interesting turn in a film that has been full of surprises even before one frame has been shot. With lensing starting in January, that means there won't be a return trip to Cannes for QT. But that Christmas Day 2012 release is still very much doable, and with a few months to go before cameras roll, there's still lots more to come.