Jamie just had to be Django

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - The Guide - By guide re­porter John­baker

Jamie Foxx is in high spir­its in a ho­tel in the Mex­i­can hol­i­day re­sort of Can­cun, all the more im­pres­sive since he played an im­promptu DJ set in the wee small hours the night be­fore. He’s here with fel­low ac­tors Christoph Waltz and Kerry Washington and cult di­rec­tor QuentinTarantino­totalk­a­bout Tarantino’s lat­est epic, Django Un­chained, whichthey’ve been film­ing in New Or­leans.

Foxx is the epit­ome of cool, man­ag­ing­to­han­dlet­woca­reers as a stel­lar ac­tor in films like Col­lat­eral an­dRay( for whichhe wo­nanOs­car), an­dasaGrammy award- win­ning singer.

But he still seems com­pletely hum­bledthatTarantino would have picked him to play the lead.

“I had seen Quentin at a lot of par­ties, but I was just hon­oured to be, you know, con­sid­ered for the role,” he says.

Foxx plays the Django of the ti­tle, a slave bought by Ger­man den­tist- turned- bounty hunter Dr King Schultz, played by Waltz, whoworked­with­Tarantino on his pre­vi­ous movie In­glou­ri­ous Bas­terds.

Schultzwantshelp­catch­ing no­to­ri­ous crim­i­nals the Brit­tle brothers and agrees to free Django once they’re dead - and help him find his wife Broomhilda, whowas­sol­dto­evil plan­ta­tion owner Calvin Candie, played by Leonardo DiCaprio.

In typ­i­cal Tarantino style, Django Un­chained is gen­re­bust­ing - part slave nar­ra­tive, part spaghetti west­ern and re­venge romp, with a dash of love story. Tarantino dreamt it up while in Ja­pan pro­mot­ing In­glou­ri­ous Bas­terds.

The­filmhas­de­served­lyjust re­ceived Os­car nominations for best pic­ture, best orig­i­nal screen­play and best sup­port­ing ac­tor for Waltz, but Foxx and Tarantino have missed out on nods for best ac­tor and best di­rec­tor.

Foxx is gra­cious in the face of what could be con­sid­ered a snub by the Academy, say­ing: “I don’t do what I do for awards, I’m just happy to be Django. I think that’s the most iconic thing. All I ever wanted to get out of this was to be Django.”

Un­like­tra­di­tion­al­west­erns, it’s set in the south, two years be­fore the Civil War, when the Con­sti­tu­tion at the time said slaveswere­on­lythree- fifthshu­man. Cue some clas­sic Tarantino vi­o­lence and­con­tro­ver­sial use of the N- word.

For Foxx, far from be­ing put off by the sub­ject mat­ter, it touched a nerve, re­mind­ing him of grow­ing up in Texas.

“It was the most in­cred­i­ble script I’ve read in all my life. I thought, ‘ Who has the guts to tell it like it really is?’ The way he’s telling thestory, it rips your flesh off.”

At his first meet­ing­with­the di­rec­tor, the 45- year- old felt com­pelled to share his ex­pe­ri­ence of racism.

“When I met with Quentin, first thing I told him was about my ex­pe­ri­ence, be­cause this movie is a west­ern but it also deals with slav­ery. And so I ex­plained to him about th­ese things that are in the script.

“As a kid grow­ing up in Texas, there were some things where, you know, the racial com­po­nent was def­i­nitely el­e­vated. So I told him those ex­pe­ri­ences are go­ing to come out when­wes­t­artshoot­ingthis movie.”

One other strong par­al­lel that made him a per­fect can­di­date for the part was that he’d re­cently started horse- rid­ing.

Foxx ex­plains: “About fourand- a- half years ago, I got a horse­formy­birth­dayand­started rid­ing.

“And the next thing you know, I run into this cin­e­matic ge­nius, as I call him, Quentin Tarantino. He says he has a west­ern and I said, ‘ Well I hap­pen­to­have­my­own­horse’. Now my­horse Chee­tah is ac­tu­ally in the movie!”

In Tarantino’s eyes, Foxx had a “cow­boy qual­ity to him - looks good on a horse and good in the out­fit”.

When the ac­tor’s sis­ter came on set, he got a fur­ther seal of ap­proval.

“She’s from South Dal­las, from the ‘ hood, you know, and for­peo­ple­wherewe­come­from, you never really get a chance to see the black cow­boy,” says Foxx.

“When we ac­tu­ally got in the west­ern gear, cow­boy hats and­guns, andwerode­upon­the horses, I looke­dat­m­y­sis­terand her eyes welled up, like, ‘ Wow, you’re a real cow­boy’.”

Work­ing for Tarantino means you’re never quite sure what you’re go­ing to be do­ing and one scene sees Foxx hang­ing up­side down fully naked.

But for all the hard - and some­times painful - graft, the di­rec­tor re­wards his cast.

“I’ve never been on a set where it’s been that much fun,” says Foxx, grin­ning.

“He­plays mu­sic in be­tween takes. Ev­ery hun­dred rolls of film we take shots, ei­ther tequila, or the last thing we had was Mint Julep. Work­ing on some­thing like this, you need that re­lease.

“And he’s g r aci ous. I watched him when we were on thechain­gan­gandwe’re­locked in th­ese chains, it’s 28 de­grees, but he went to ev­ery per­son, ev­ery guy that was on the chain gang, whether he had a line or whether he was in the back­ground, and made sure they were OK.

“Those types of things, wheny­ouworki­nour­busi­ness, are huge and it makesthe process en­joy­able.”

Astrong­mu­tu­al­re­spec­talso devel­oped be­tween Foxx and his co- star Waltz, partly based on bond­ing over their Os­car wins - Foxx for his por­trayal of blind pi­anist Ray Charles and Waltz won best sup­port­ing ac­tor for his role as Han­sLandain In­glou­ri­ous Bas­terds.

“He was such the un­der­dog and now he’s in this po­si­tion where he wins an Os­car, so the first­thingIasked­himwas‘ How does it feel?’

“Tosit there and­both­havea shared ex­pe­ri­ence al­ready cre­ates a bond.

“We hugged each other and said, ‘ Hey man, this is go­ing to be a jour­ney’, and it’s just been fan­tas­tic.” For Waltz, Foxx is sim­ply “the real cool”.

Foxx is not mar­ried and re­cently ad­mit­ted in a TV in­ter­view with Oprah: “I don’t know if I’m built for mar­riage”, although he added: “I’m a very lov­ing per­son, when it comes to con­nect­ing with some­body.”

He has two daugh­ters from pre­vi­ous­re­la­tion­ship­sand­took them on the plan­ta­tion set of Djan­goUn­chained­soth­ey­could see the slave quar­ters.

“You can’t walk through those places and not feel some­thing,” he says.

“I took­mythree- and- a- hal­fyear- old and­myeigh­teen- yearold and let them walk through. I said, ‘ This is where you come from’.”

Jamie Foxx plays the ti­tle role in Django Un­chained, the lat­est of­fer­ing by Quentin Tarantino

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