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First Look at Jamie Foxx in “Django Unchained”

Entertainment Weekly debuts the first photo from the movie, which hits theaters on Dec. 25,  and they also talk with Jamie Foxx about this southern-fried take on the old spaghetti western. (Click on the image above to view it full size).

Does he think Django Unchained will be controversial? “Oh, hell yeah,” Foxx says. “You kidding me?”

The Oscar-winner describes his character as Shaft’s “Richard Roundtree meets Clint Eastwood.”

After being sent to a chain gang after rebelling against his owners, Django is recruited by a German bounty hunter (Inglorious Basterd’s Oscar-winner Christoph Waltz, left, with Foxx) to help him settle an old score. Django has information that Waltz’s Dr. King Schultz needs, so the German mercenary liberates the slave and promises that if he helps him kill the Brittle Brothers, Django’s old owners, he’ll make it worth his while. “He says, ‘I’ll kill ‘em, and you’ll get some money and be on your way as a free man,’” Foxx says.

Along the way, the duo end up crossing paths with Leonardo DiCaprio’s hammer-wielding character, a deranged plantation owner named Calvin Candie, who likes to make his toughest slaves fight to the death in gladiatorial combat. “Candie is a business man who owns a plantation called Candie Land, and that’s where my wife ends up being,” Foxx says. To find her, “we have to get in good with Candy, by me playing a valet for Christoph’s character.”

Even more than a century-and-a-half later, slavery is a highly sensitive subject, and though Tarantino is a filmmaker known more for his flamboyant, violent storytelling than sober exploration of historical issues, Foxx says there is a serious side to Django Unchained. “There’s a beautiful way [Tarantino] found for the characters to talk to each other. It’s mindblowing. You’ve never heard it this way,” the actor says. “You’ve seen movies deal with slavery — or westerns that never dealt with slavery – do it the safe way. This way is like … wow.”

Many of these exchanges take place amid the evolving relationship between Django and Schultz. “Christoph’s character is a little aloof to what slavery actually is. He’s not familiar with everything, and when he sees atrocities, it’s Greek to him,” Foxx says. “But Django lets him know this is the way the world is and we got to get used to it. He teaches Django certain things he needs to become a whole man, and [Django] also teaches Christoph that when life deals you these cards, here’s what you’ve got to do.”

Ultimately, as we mentioned at the beginning, Django Unchained is a story about the heart, and the way cruelty can destroy the things we love most.

“All Django wants to do is get his wife,” Foxx says. “He’s not trying to cure or solve slavery. He just wants to get his life back.”

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