In Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming feature Django Unchained, Jamie Foxx stars as a slave who joins the bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) who saved him in a mission to rescue Django’s wife (Kerry Washington) from a villainous plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio) in the Deep South. After previewing eight minutes of stylized footage for Comic-Con fans on Saturday, Foxx sat down with several members of the press at San Diego’s Hilton Bayfront Hotel to discuss the film, which is set for release on Christmas Day.
When asked about his most difficult moment on set, the Oscar winner explained that it occurred while filming a scene in which Washington’s character, Broomhilda, is whipped. “The most courageous person in this room is Kerry Washington. She said, ‘I want to be hit with the lashes.’” So instead of using a stunt person, Washington agreed to be hit with a nylon stunt whip in the way that, Foxx said, his ancestors were tortured not so long ago on the very same plantation grounds.
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.”
Despite the heaviness of shooting such a scene in a real-life setting, at the Evergreen Plantation in Louisiana, a national historic landmark that has 22 slaves quarters, Foxx says that Tarantino managed to add some levity by cracking jokes, playing upbeat music occasionally between takes, and reminding his cast and crew why they were there.
“Quentin had a thing where he’d say, ‘Guys, we got that take. We could stop. But we’re going to do another one. You know why?’ And they’d go, ‘Because we love making movies!’ Whenever we’d get tired, they’d do that.”
Another impressive aspect of production, Foxx found, was watching Leonardo DiCaprio and Quentin Tarantino collaborate for the first time. “Here comes Leonardo DiCaprio, the good-looking guy that you see in the tabloids with the models. And he comes in so different and ready to work—to see those guys get together in the corner and develop the character and watch the character go different ways.” After they devised a new direction for DiCaprio’s character, Calvin Candie, Tarantino would quickly rework the script on the spot for the characters played by Foxx, Washington, and Samuel L. Jackson. “At one point he just rewrote a whole scene. He said, ‘That don’t work.’ So he went to lunch and then he’d come back with four pages of perfect dialogue.”
There was another figure on set that impressed Foxx, too—one that probably won’t appear in the closing credits, however: his horse, Cheetah, who, despite her lack of acting experience, Foxx convinced Tarantino could play Django’s horse, Tony. “The horse and I basically have the same arc,” Fox said. “[Django]’s starting off as this troubled, number-six slave in the chain gang, and [Cheetah] was a little nervous. She would spook and the handler would grab the rein. I said, ‘Do me a favor and let go of the rein and let her find her bearings. Everybody would get out of the way, and I would ride her until she settled. So as Django settled, Cheetah settled. At the end of the movie, she’s so comfortable—she’s doing stunts where she has to do three turns, stop on a dime, and throw up her front legs. I said, ‘She’s cheesing now! She’s really trying to get in the magazines.’”Source: Vanity Fair