The buzz surrounding Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming slave western epic Django Unchained has been explosive, to say the least. On one side is the rousing acclaim by a myriad of film and cultural critics who are hailing the Jamie Foxx vehicle as one of the year’s bravest work. Then there’s the controversy, highlighted by polarizing condemnation from right-wing conservatives who deem Django as an attack on whites and American history.
For Foxx—who stars as Django, a slave who after being freed by a German bounty hunter (Christopher Waltz) joins forces to track down and free his wife (Kerry Washington) from the clutches of an evil slave master (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his calculating house slave (Samuel L. Jackson)—there were some early reservations about playing such a role that has been historically displayed in a negative light throughout Hollywood history. But the Academy Award winning actor tells VIBE that Tarantino's film highlights a character that rises above old time stereotypes.
“If I’m messing with a slave film do you actually think it’s going to be goofy?” explains Foxx, who shares the December/January VIBE cover with Washington and DiCaprio. “It’s one thing to do the slave movie where the slave is docile and says, ‘Lord Jesus, God…help us’ and starts singing hymns throughout the entire film. That ain’t what we are doing here. Django Unchained is saying, ‘You slap me, I’m going to slap you back.’ By having someone like Quentin Tarantino putting his expertise on it, it really elevates it. It’s been a great experience for me to be able to find out the knowledge of just how a plantation worked and how hard it was for slaves, my people, and to look at us now and say, ‘Wow, today we have an African-American president.’”
Foxx says Django Unchained has been a surprise for many who had preconceived notions about the film. “I remember we debuted the trailer at the BET Awards and there were a lot of people who didn’t know what the picture would look like,” he states. “People flipped out. I even ran into Spike Lee and he said, ‘Oh my God. I’m not going to say anything bad about this one.’ He was blown away.”
Foxx continues: “Django Unchained is classic Quentin Tarantino. And I have to say that it’s Leonardo DiCaprio at his best. It’s Samuel Jackson at his best. Everyone is great from Kerry to Christopher Waltz. And it’s one of the toughest, truest looks at slavery that you will ever see. Just how Roots defined the 70’s generation, this will define our generation about the actual slave who wasn’t docile; the slave who fought back. It’s been a challenge and a great experience to be a part of this film.”
Django Unchained is set to hit the big screen December 25th.—Keith Murphy (@murphdogg29)