Quentin Tarantino took center stage at Comic-Con this weekend, where he headlined a highly-anticipated panel on his upcoming film, Django Unchained. Seated alongside stars Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Kerry Washington, and Walton Goggins, Tarantino revealed some of the cinematic inspiration behind Django, which hits theaters this Christmas. “I’ve always wanted to do a western,” the director told audience members at the San Diego Convention Center Saturday morning. “And since spaghetti westerns have always been my favorite, I thought the way to (develop) the germ of the story of a slave who becomes a bounty hunter and hunts white men would be to do it in the Sergio Leone vein with cool music and surrealistic violence.”
Tarantino went on to play an eight-minute sizzle reel of clips from the film, before Foxx discussed some of the more personal challenges he faced playing the role of Django — a freed slave who embarks on a mission to rescue his wife (Washington) from plantation owner Calvin Candie, played by Leonardo DiCaprio. ”Being called a nigger as a young kid by white people was something I had to deal with,” he said. “Having that done to me I was able to grasp what was going on in the script. When a project becomes magic and special it means that at certain points in the script it parallels your story.”
Following Saturday’s panel, Foxx fielded questions from reporters at the Hilton Bayfront Hotel in San Diego. When asked about the most difficult scene to shoot, the actor described a moment that required him to lash Washington with nylon stunt whips. Things only became more emotional once Tarantino began playing music between takes, as Vanity Fair recounts below:
Further heightening emotions on set, according to Foxx, “Quentin does a fantastic thing where he would play music in between scenes.” Foxx gave the music coordinator three songs to play over the loudspeakers, one of which was a track by religious gospel singer Fred Hammond. “When that would play throughout the whole shack village, I saw one of the extras, who had a little kid, I saw her hands go up,” Foxx recalled. “She started, I guess you would call it, testifying. And I watched Quentin [say,] ‘We’re going to get this shot done.’ And water had filled up in his eye piece because he was crying. That was probably the most challenging time. But that is a testament to Quentin Tarantino and his ability to understand the situation. He went to every single person on that set . . . whether they were extras or main characters to make sure they were O.K. between each scene.”
Tarantino isn’t afraid to address historically sensitive subjects, as evidenced by 2009′s Inglorious Basterds. Django covers similarly delicate ground with its treatment of American slavery. “When I read this script the first time I thought, this was going to start a revolution,” said Goggins, who plays Billy Crash, DiCaprio’s sidekick. “Not necessarily people in the streets, but an inward revolution. I think it’s going to play a significant part in race conversations. I keep saying this over and over again: Make your dinner reservations now, because you’re going to want to talk after this movie.”
Tarantino plans to finish shooting this week, though his post-Django plans remain a mystery for now. When asked about the possibility of a new Kill Bill film, he replied: ”I’m not sure if there’s going to be a Kill Bill 3. I was always going to wait 10 years so we will see what happens.”
The Weinstein Company will release Django Unchained on December 25th. To see trailers from the film, click here.