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Jamie Foxx in Django Unchained

Seven years and two more releases later, Quentin Tarantino’s biggest commercial hit is still Django Unchained. Even though the western was controversial, it made close to a half-billion dollars worldwide and was showered with acclaim. When Jamie Foxx recently attended Toronto International Film Festival, he spoke again about his iconic role as the titular Django Unchained character. And why not?

The actor fought through some pretty stiff competition before he nabbed the role of Django in the 2012 Tarantino film. After Will Smith turned down the movie over the movie’s dark themes of vengence, Idris Elba was next in line for the part. Jamie Foxx recalled crossing paths with Elba when he was in the running and the role came up. Foxx then tried to deter Elba with these words, as he recalled at TIFF Talks:

Your beautiful black ass riding up on a horse, there’s going to be some problems for everyone.

Idris Elba is not only a magnificent actor, but is well-known to have audiences ogling and swooning. He was even bestowed People’s coveted “Sexiest Man Alive” honor in 2018. He’s been fan-cast as the next 007 actor and scored big roles in Luthor, Thor, Pacific Rim and, most recently, Hobbs & Shaw.

Before he was Hollywood’s favorite eye-candy, Jamie Foxx could spot his beauty a mile away and tried to use it to his advantage. He basically told Idris Elba he was too good looking to play the 2012 role. It’s kind of a clever way to go about it because it never sounds like he’s not complimenting him!

Ultimately, Idris Elba didn’t lose out on the part because of his conversation with Jamie Foxx at all. Quentin Tarantino reportedly decided he was too British for a role rooted in the American experience. Yes, it’s yet another controversial decision from Quentin Tarantino, but at least he’s consistent. Here’s what he told The Sun in 2013:

Yeah, Idris is British and this is an American story… I think a problem with a lot of movies that deal with this issue is they cast British actors to play the Southerners and it goes a long way to distancing the movie. They put on their gargoyle masks and they do their accents and you are not telling an American story any more.

It’s good Quentin Tarantino isn’t in the business of superhero filmmaking, because Tom Holland would be out of a job! Anyway, once he decided against Idris Elba, he moved to a shortlist that included Terrance Howard, Chris Tucker, Tyrese Gibson and Michael K. Williams. When he met Jamie Foxx, he’d found his Django. In Tarantino’s words:

He was the cowboy. Forget the fact that he has his own horse — and that is actually his horse in the movie. He’s from Texas; he understands. He understood what it’s like to be thought of as an ‘other’.

And the rest is history! Jamie Foxx is Django. It’s one the actor's most memorable roles to date, and he still calls Quentin Tarantino “the best director out there.” He may reprise his role in a Django/Zorro crossover reportedly in the works from writer Jerrod Carmichael.

Jamie Foxx next stars alongside Brie Larson and Michael B. Jordan in Just Mercy from upcoming Shang-Chi director Destin Daniel Cretton. The court drama is about a defense attorney (Jordan) who clears the name of death row prisoner Walter McMillian (Foxx). Just Mercy comes to theaters on January 10, 2020.

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