Robert Rodriguez used 80s Miami Vice and Nash Bridges t.v. legend Don Johnson very much against type as racist son of a bitch in his Texas epic Machete and now Quentin Tarantino has the same idea for Django Unchained. Though this guy he’s set him to play sounds a thousand times worse and it took Johnson, despite seemingly being unpicky elsewhere (his recent film credits include an ‘uncredited’ appearance in When in Rome and a role in Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star!), four months of Tarantino calling him up to agree to take on the controversial part.
Seems like Johnson wasn’t sure playing such a irredeemable character would do to his image…
Deadline confirms that Johnson will play Spencer Bennett in the soon to be shooting revenge Western. Bennett is a rich plantation owner and prostitute slave pimp, an all round slimy character that is the image twisting casting gimmick that Quentin just loves to do. It’s actually the part we thought fellow 80′s t.v. star Gerald McRaney had landed, but he must have been cast as someone else. When you consider the film also includes Kurt Russell, whose biggest drawing years were in the 80′s and another forgotten t.v. star in Dennis Christopher… this is quite the time-warping cast Quentin has put together here. Has he been rumbling through his old video archives VHS tape collection or what?
Oscar winner Jamie Foxx leads as the black slave who is freed, trained under the tutelage of Waltz’s eccentric former dentist turned bounty hunter, and then becomes an all out Clint Eastwood style gunslinger, hellbent on saving his bride who is enslaved by Leonardo DiCaprio’s evil plantation owner. Samuel L. Jackson is DiCaprio’s right-hand man Stephen and Kurt Russell is the ruthless henchman to DiCaprio, Ace Woody. Laura Cayouette (who played the stripper Rocket in Kill Bill Vol. 2) will play Candie’s sister, Lara-Lee.
Don Johnson plays another plantation owner and prostitute slave pimp Spencer Bennett and other 80′s stars Gerald McRaney and Dennis Christopher have supporting roles (ironically they both got a mini career revival on HBO’s Deadwood) and The Wire’s Michael K. Williams claims Tarantino is ‘creating’ a role for him in the picture. Lost’s M.C. Gainey also has a role.
There are other roles still to be cast, most notably that of Broomhilda, the wife of Django. Kerry Washington was who I thought was perfect for it having read the script and it’s said Tarantino agreed as she was an early contender but it doesn’t look like that casting is going to happen, rumoured to be because of the excessive nudity the role requires.
All the loose ends should be tied up soon however as the film will begin shooting soon in New Orleans and will be in theatres Christmas Day next year.