V Exclusive! Leonardo DiCaprio & Kerry Washington on Violence, Evil in ‘Django Unchained’


/ December 31, 2012

Director Quentin Tarantino has come under fire for his use of the N-word and portrayal of slavery in Django Unchained. While the film has garned favorable reviews from critics, and is currently the No. 2 movie in America, several people have reprimanded the film. Director Spike Lee told VIBE he wasn’t going to see the film because it was disrespectful to his ancestors. Comedian Katt Williams threatened Tarantino, alleging the director was out of bounds to use the N-word more than a hundred times in the film for profit.

The cast of Django Unchained — Leonardo Dicaprio, Jamie Foxx and Kerry Washington — grace the current Dec. 2012/Jan. 2013 cover of VIBE. We’ve uncovered outtakes from their conversation with writer Erik Parker, where Leo and Kerry both talk about the violence and evil in the film.

“Immediately, I remember that first meeting,” Dicaprio tells VIBE about agreeing to portray slave owner Calvin Candie in the film. “[Co-star] Sam Jackson was like, “You can’t pull any punches, none of this can be sugar coated.” He felt that a lot of this stuff had not been portrayed accurately. And I’d say, even though this is a very isolated story about one man who defies the odds as a slave, how realistic that would have been at that time period. To him, it was about really showing for the first time the horrific atrocities of that time period, that haven’t really been shown of that time period. He told me, “If you are going to do this, you have to go all the way. Therefore more people are going to embrace it for being accurate.”

Washington resonated Dicaprio’s thought. She agreed that in order to give the movie and her character the most realistic depiction it would involve an austere commitment.

“There were days where I would think okay, our job.” Washington told VIBE about the violence and the evil in Django Unchained. “Particularly with characters like Leo’s and mine, our job is to have things be as horrible as possible. If we aren’t willing to go there, Jamie’s heroic journey [as Django] means less. This is a story about a man who comes up from the depths of hell, from the worst of the worst, to rescue his woman. We have to be willing to portray and embody, and be in the worst of the worst.”

Whether that “worst” involves violence or the use of the N-word is the fine line between storytelling and reality that Django Unchained plays with and leaves up to the audience to decide. And it appears, that if year-end film lists are any indication, the audience has decided that having the actors go all the way paid off.

To read VIBE’s Django Unchained cover story head here.