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Rumor: Could Leonardo DiCaprio Play The Main Villain In Quentin Tarantino's 'Django Unchained'?

by Edward Davis
May 31, 2011 6:11 AM
12 Comments
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Random posts on Twitter factual news does not make. However, this one is worth paying attention to for several reasons.

Former Creative Screenwriting magazine Senior Editor Jeff Goldsmith tweeted this morning, "Casting Rumor: Leonardo DiCaprio WILL play villian Calvin Candie in [Quentin] Tarantino's "Django Unchained"! QT wanted him for I.B. & now has him!"

And yes, while Goldsmith is dialed-in in L.A., it's just a rumor and tweet. However, Goldsmith was one of, if not the first person to tweet about Will Smith's participation in Tarantino's Spaghetti Western slavery epic. And while Smith isn't 100% locked-in for the role (and Idris Elba is now rumored to be involved), the "Men In Black" star has definitely been in discussions to join the film so clearly Goldsmith's information is usually on point. But wait, there's more.

When first announced, Variety wrote, "Tarantino has also been looking to work with Leonardo DiCaprio…Tarantino was courting Leonardo DiCaprio for the villainous role of Hans Landa in 'Basterds,' which ultimately went to [Christoph] Waltz. Likewise, Tarantino is believed to have written the role of Dr. Schultz for DiCaprio, but when he passed, it was modified for Waltz."

So it sounds like the "Inception" star was at least somewhat in the mix. While that info seems to be somewhat mixed-up -- we were told DiCaprio pursued the role in "Inglourious Basterds," and didn't get the part, not the other way around (after all, if Tarantino wanted DiCaprio for the role, as reported, why did he go with Waltz instead?) -- DiCaprio was reported as being in talks with Tarantino at the time for the role, so clearly the two have had some conversations.

Lastly, a source of ours that helped us break some "Inglourious Basterds" information back in the day tells us they have heard this same information, but that DiCaprio's involvement was a "no go."

If this all falls into line and is true -- or at least the intentions are true -- it could mean a few things. Yes, Schultz was written for DiCaprio, but he's already passed as reported, end of story, and this is just a case of old news resurfacing as rumor. Or perhaps Tarantino is modifying things for DiCaprio's schedule -- "Django Unchained" shoots in the fall and could potentially overlap with Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby," which DiCaprio will star in and is shooting either mid-summer or late summer/early fall -- opting to have the actor play the smaller, villainous role that could be packed into 2-3 weeks of shooting.

Here's another theory: Some are saying Will Smith has passed and Idris Elba is auditioning. If that's the case, then Tarantino still needs a major international name, no? DiCaprio would fit that bill, as would tweaking the sched to his needs.

All just (major) speculation of course. We're of course assuming that Goldsmith's information is correct. But hey, dude was right once and it surely does sound like at the very least, DiCaprio and "Django Unchained" were in the same casting-idea sentence at least at one point. As for us, we put forth Josh Brolin in our dream casting of the film in the role of Calvin Candie. But for now, let the rumor mill churn forth...

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12 Comments

  • Paul | June 1, 2011 5:23 AMReply

    DiCaprio was NEVER in the running for Inglorious Basterds. Did he possibly pursue the film? Sure, DiCaprio loves to work with talented filmmakers who have a distinct voice. No Jon Turtletaub's on his resume.

    But Hans Landa was never going to a star. Let alone DiCaprio who cannot speak 4 languages fluently. Could he have learned the lines phonetically? Yes. But at no point was DiCaprio up for Landa.

    Anywho, if Django needs a superstar DiCaprio could be the one though.

  • Rachel | May 31, 2011 10:59 AMReply

    I am over Leonardo DiCaprio, he should go away for a while.

  • AS | May 31, 2011 8:41 AMReply

    Anyone who knows anything about QT and Basterds knows that Tarantino would have never considered Leo for the part of Landa. Part of the whole casting decision for the film was to avoid the usual Hollywood cliches. Tarantino was adamant about casting British as British, German as German and French as French. He went as far as to shoot all of the scenes involving French and German characters in their native languages. It's absurd to think that QT ever entertained the notion of hiring an American actor to play a German S.S. officer who can speak four languages fluently. How was Leo supposed to pull that off?

    Don't get your hopes up thinking that this rumor is any truer.

  • SRB | May 31, 2011 7:43 AMReply

    "I hope this film fails miserably. I actually hope it doesn’t get made at all."
    Care to explain why?

  • Viv | May 31, 2011 7:31 AMReply

    I hope this film fails miserably. I actually hope it doesn't get made at all.

  • Nik Grape | May 31, 2011 7:18 AMReply

    If Leo was pursued for the role of Landa why was QT going on and on about how it was the hardest role to cast because of how mutli-lingual the character had to be? It just sounds wrong that he really wanted Leo, if anything it's probably the other way around but he figured he couldn't do it coz of the languages.

    Anyway, DiCaps is a terrific actor and I would love to see him in a QT film. Haven't read the script yet so I don't know about that villanous role, but I'm sure QT would make it fit.

    Hope this rumour is true.

  • Stephen | May 31, 2011 6:55 AMReply

    Like DiCaprio, but am not a fan of his southern accent, so kinda hoping this doesn't happen.

  • french | May 31, 2011 6:45 AMReply

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2008/jul/16/1

  • french | May 31, 2011 6:42 AMReply

    Tarantino was trying to secure a second source of funding for I.B. because The Weinstein Company couldn't cover the entire budget. (Universal eventually stepped in). That is why he went after the stars. It's hard to remember, but at the time, the studios were not as willing to give him such a large budget. It what was reported that Tarantino wanted Brad Pitt and Leo DiCaprio but he only got Pitt. DiCaprio passed because of the multilingual responsibilities that the role involved.

  • Matt | May 31, 2011 6:39 AMReply

    I'm sure it's a matter of he had no time to do it. I mean thinking about his filmography he was doing press for Revolutionary Road in 2008 and I don't know the exact shoot dates as you all do, but he then went on to be leads in both Shutter Island and Inception which I'm assuming were shot in 2009. I assume they were and it's not too far on a limb to assume, that they were both extremely involving shoots and to fit a third film in there would just be too much for him.

    I will say, as a DiCaprio fan especially since working with Scorsese, it would be fascinating to see him play a villain whether a larger or smaller role. Yet much like Basterds, which thank God didn't turn into the film I was fearing, I feel deep unease with this film and wonder if he just exploiting these things for his own sick entertainment. Albeit, I have mixed views about Tarantino and his canon, but some of the reports of the racial politics involved do worry me a bit. Just hoping he's not going to make an exploitation film where African-Americans are stereotyped or used as props in the name of twisted, sick thrills.

  • Edward Davis | May 31, 2011 6:26 AMReply

    That's one theory...

  • bill | May 31, 2011 6:25 AMReply

    "after all, if Tarantino wanted DiCaprio for the role, as reported, why did he go with Waltz instead?"

    I read somewhere (forgot where; thought it was here) that Dicaprio passed on the role.

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