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UPDATE: Variety is now reporting the same story, but has also added in another detail. According to the report, both Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio were offered parts, but both decided to turn them down. This is the second time that DiCaprio has declined a role in a Tarantino film, having previously been courted for the role of Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds (which ended up winning Christoph Waltz an Oscar). To that part of the news, all I have to say is this: why doesn't DiCaprio want to work with Tarantino?
Quentin Tarantino has never been one to populate his cast with superstars. With the notable exception being Brad Pitt in Ingloruious Basterds, he has instead preferred to dig deep and find those that are both right for the part and could use a career boost. This tactic has worked quite well for him over the years, having made stars or reinvigorated the careers of John Travolta, Robert Forrester, David Carradine and Christoph Waltz. As a result, some Tarantino fans might not know how to think about Will Smith being the frontrunner for the lead in Django Unchained.
According to THR, the box office champion is the top name being considered to play the title role in the film, which is about an escaped slave that teams up with a German bounty hunter in order to find his wife and kill his former owner. As previously mentioned, Waltz is being considered - though hasn't committed - to play said bounty hunter, while Samuel L. Jackson, who has had roles in four of Tarantino's films, is in contention to play a house slave that squares off against Django. The director has begun taking meetings with studios for international distribution, while the film will be handled by the Weinstein Company domestically.
While Smith is almost always a hit at the box office, in someways a project with Tarantino could really help him out. The actor hasn't appeared on screen since 2008's Seven Pounds and fans haven't been exceptionally pleased with his nepotistic mission to turn his children into superstars like himself. I've personally never been one to doubt Tarantino's instincts - they haven't let him down yet - so I'm going to trust that he knows exactly what he's doing.