History tells us that Quentin Tarantino writes the leading characters in his films for an actor he specifically has in mind and whether it’s Pam Grier in Jackie Brown, Uma Thurman in Kill Bill or Brad Pitt in Inglourious Basterds, Tarantino always gets who he wants. More often than not (I could be wrong, but I don’t think anyone has turned down the leading role in a Tarantino picture) the actor in question almost always counts their lucky stars that the eccentric filmmaker has centered a movie around their persona and a deal is made.
When the news hit earlier this month that the director had spent all day pitching his next movie Django Unchained, his controversial black slavery/Spaghetti western movie to studio’s name-dropping Will Smith as his desired lead, this signaled to all of us that the former Fresh Prince of Bel Air was who Tarantino had always seen as his Django – a black slave who is freed by a German bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) and is trained into the art of contract killing before attempting to save his enslaved wife from an evil plantation owner.
An informal offer was quickly made to Smith but because Tarantino’s epic 2 and a half hour tome isn’t shy with it’s racial bluntness (the offensive slurs nigger & pony are used frequently) and is about the controversial slavery era of America which might be off-putting for an actor who has shaped a very particular image for himself as a star, a kind of squeaky clean white Tom Cruise, we all thought Quentin might have a battle on his hands getting his man this time.
“Having one of the biggest meetings of my professional life today…meeting a very controversial director for a very controversial part.”
“I wish I could tell you more but…in due time… On the plane to the destination of my fate…..ok…. a lil dramatic….destination of my life..?”
Elba even took of a photo of how he looked on the plane, psyching himself up for the biggest day of his career…
Very quickly whilst I read the script, I thought Elba would be the right choice for Quentin. He’s an actor who can do so much without dialogue and a lot of Django’s power as a character will come from his eyes, his expressions and his imposing height and build, all of which is perfect for Elba. He also doesn’t have a multi-million image with advertisers and family film-goers to concern himself about with such a role like Will Smith has.
But before we all get too excited, there is of course an awful lot of speculation in this article and Elba could well have met with anyone about anything this weekend (many have said Luke Cage, and a title role in a Marvel superhero film would certainly change one’s life) but indeed if it is Django Unchained, then he could just as easily be meeting with Quentin for another part. However there isn’t a role in the film that quite lives up to Elba’s dramatic hype of it being a game-changer in his career, especially as Samuel L. Jackson (who would have made a great Django 15 or so years ago) has seemingly already nabbed the Stephen role, described in the screenplay as “the Basil Rathbone of house niggers”, the top right hand man black slave to the evil plantation owner.
Keen an eye on Elba’s twitter and of course on the trades. Tarantino hopes to shoot the movie in the fall and is meeting with actors for the project now, so some official casting news on Django Unchained will be coming soon. Hopefully they will involve Elba…