Films

15 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Django Unchained

Quentin Tarantino isn't a man to be rushed. His films are carefully assembled and lovingly made and even if you're not a fan. you can tell that he's not a fan of half measures.

In 2012, he came back after a three year absence for another Oscar-scooping epic in the shape of blistering slavery western Django Unchained which boasted stellar performances, including an Oscar-winning one from Christoph Waltz, and Tarantino's trademark mix of finely picked music and unforgettable imagery.

But here are some facts you may not know...

  • 15 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Django Unchained

    1.

    During filming, Leonardo DiCaprio once stopped mid-scene because he said he was having a “difficult time” using so many racial slurs. Samuel L. Jackson then pulled the movie star aside telling him, “mother fucker, this is just another Tuesday for us.” Not a man to mince his words. 

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    2.

    Can you imagine anyone else in the title role? Well, it might have been Will Smith or Michael K. Williams (Omar from The Wire) who were both mentioned as possibilities. Smith turned the part down because “it wasn’t the lead” (or another Men in Black movie).

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    3.

    During the dinner scene, where Calvin Candie (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) learns he has been tricked, DiCaprio slams his hand on the table, breaking a glass and cutting his hand. This wasn’t part of the script and the actor had badly hurt himself but in true method (or madness) tradition, he never broke character and the take was the one used in the movie.

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    3.

    Costume designer Sharen Davis said the inspiration for Django's extraordinary blue velvet suit came from the Thomas Gainsborough painting The Blue Boy, and you can see what she means. Note to Mr. Gainsborough: adding a massive horse improves any picture. 

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    5.

    Frank Ocean wrote an original song for the film's soundtrack but it was eventually rejected by Quentin Tarantino who said "Ocean wrote a fantastic ballad that was truly lovely and poetic in every way, there just wasn't a scene for it". Ocean eventually released the track as Wise Man.

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    6.

    In perhaps the most horrifying scene in the film, the monstrous Calvin Candie delivers a monologue about skulls. The speech was DiCaprio’s idea and came from ideas espoused in an antiquarian book on phrenology – a racist pseudo-science used to justify slavery. DiCaprio gave Tarantino the book and the two fleshed out the character into the maniac you see in the film.

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    7.

    According to music producer/entertainment polymath RZA, he and Tarantino had originally planned to do a crossover with Django and his martial arts film The Man With The Iron Fists. The crossover would have seen a younger version of the blacksmith character in RZA’s film appear as a slave at an auction. It didn’t happen due to scheduling conflicts. 

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    8.

    One of the best moments in the film is when Django is at the bar and, in a room full of blood thirsty racists, tells a man that the D in his name is silent. The man he says this to is none other than Frank Nero, who played the eponymous character in the original 1966 Italian film Django. He is also married to Vanessa Redgrave, which is nice.

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    9.

    In an extraordinary PR and general good taste disaster, toy dolls of characters from the film were produced and sold on Amazon to publicise the movie. The products were quickly pulled by The Weinstein Company after receiving complaints from virtually everyone. At least they put a choking hazard warning on the box for all the potential punters who have to be 17 or older to buy the thing. 

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    10.

    In a match made in heaven, Tarantino got Tupac’s engineer Claudio Cueni to mix together to classic tracks from Tupac and James Brown. Cueni used Tupac’s Untouchable and Brown’s The Payback and produced Unchained, the irresistible theme song for the film.

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    11.

    Quentin Tarantino had probably had a very long day promoting Django and a Channel 4 News interview with Krishnan Guru-Murthy was simply the last straw. The director refused to be drawn on the spurious link between on-screen and real life violence and made his frustration clear with the line “I’m shutting your butt down”. You wouldn’t say that to Jon Snow. 

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    12.

    Having formed a very successful and Oscar winning partnership in 2009’s Inglourious Basterds, Tarantino wrote the part of Dr. King Schultz specifically for Christopher Waltz. In an interview Waltz said “I sat at his kitchen table — literally at his kitchen table — with pages in front of me that were still warm from the printer… so yes, I'm proud to say — and I hope it's not being presumptuous — he did write it for me."

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    13.

    Crossovers are the new sequels and in November 2014 Dynamite Entertainment and DC Comics released a Tarantino written story about Django and, wait for it, Zorro. Rumours of a film version were seemingly confirmed after leaked emails between Tarantino and Sony executives recently surfaced. This has to happen if only for the dizzying costume possibilities.

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    14.

    During the promotional tour for the movie, Jamie Foxx took a turn hosting Saturday Night Live and caused mild controversy in some sections of the media (basically Fox News), with his monologue. The supposedly offending section was at the end when he said that even though he had to wear chains and play a slave, he didn’t mind because he got “kill all the white people in the movie”.

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    15.

    We have to talk about those sunglasses, don’t we? Costume designer Sharen Davis said that she wanted a “rock-n-roll take on the character". The famous sunnies were inspired by Charles Bronson’s character in The White Buffalo. Difficult to pull off, but the rewards are obvious.

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