By Anne Thompson and Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood June 8, 2011 at 4:55AM
Quentin Tarantino is known for his unorthodox, out-of-the-box casting choices, from John Travolta, Robert Forster and Pam Grier to Brad Pitt, Kurt Russell, and David Carradine. Now Leonardo DiCaprio (who Tarantino chased for the role of Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds) is in talks to play the villain in spaghetti western Django Unchained. He would play evil Mississippi Candyland plantation owner Calvin Candie, who also runs the Cleopatra Club that features sexually abused female slaves and mandingos forced to fight in death matches.
Still uncast--with Will Smith far from a sure thing--is Django, the slave freed and trained as a bounty hunter by sophisticated German Christolph Waltz (who won a supporting actor Oscar as Landa). He is appalled by the racist ways of the antebellum South, and helps to prepare Django to face Candie so that he can rescue his wife, Broomhilda. Tarantino regular Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction) plays Candie's right hand man/head house slave. UPDATE: Inglourious Basterds star Michael Fassbender's revelatory tweet that he's been cast in an unidentified role has been debunked, as it's not a verified Fassbender Twitter account.
Vote in our Django casing poll below:
The combo of DiCaprio and Tarantino is intriguing to say the least. Deadline reports that Idris Elba, Jamie Foxx and Chris Tucker are also in the mix for Django. The range of actors in the running reveal how pivotal this casting is. Like Inglourious Basterds, irreverence is king here, and the movie's tone will be set by Django. Smith or Tucker would bring some light humor to the intense role of a very angry black man, while Foxx--no slouch in the comedy department--is a powerful dramatic actor. So is The Wire's Elba, who is British (Elba's The Wire co-star, American actor Wood Harris, who played Avon Barksdale, is also worth consideration). Why do we want a descendant of American slaves to play the role? Other suggestions include Anthony Mackie and Omar Epps.