By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist September 13, 2011 at 10:36AM
Once you've done one Western, it's much easier to keep getting asked back for more of them; you need to prove that you can be convincing on a horse with a hat, as John Wayne, and Kevin Costner, and so many others, have done over the years. And nothing has been a better Western training ground in recent years than the much-missed HBO show "Deadwood." Would Keith Carradine have been asked in for "Cowboys & Aliens" without the show? Eh, maybe. Would Timothy Olyphant have landed contemporary cowboy tale "Justified" without his starring role? Probably not.
And with Quentin Tarantino gearing up for a Western, we knew that at least one veteran of David Milch's masterpiece would find their way in, and it looks like it's happened; Variety reports that Gerard McRaney, who played George Hearst on season two and three of the show, has joined the cast of Tarantino's "Django Unchained." McRaney has Western form going all the way back to "Gunsmoke" (he guest-starred in the last episode), but is probably best known to the general public for the pair of 1980s TV shows, "Simon & Simon" and "Major Dad," and we bet our bottom dollar that it's one of these that child-of-the-gogglebox Tarantino knew him from.
There's no exact word on who McRaney, last seen on screen in "The A-Team," will play, but we're pretty sure it'll be Spencer "Big Daddy" Bennett, a racist slave owner who is the first major hurdle in the quest of the titular Django (Jamie Foxx) to free his wife Broomhilda. Foxx leads a cast that also includes Christoph Waltz as Django's ally Dr. King Schultze, Leonardo DiCaprio as the villain, Calvin Candie, and Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Costner as Candie's henchmen. There's a few more key bits of casting to be filled in, but it looks like Tarantino's well on target for his November start date, and the film's set to hit theaters on December 25th, 2012.