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A longtime fan of the Western, Quentin Tarantino named the protagonist in his new film Django, in honor of the iconic cowboy first played by Italian actor Franco Nero. Yet in crafting the lead character, Tarantino followed no particular model or template, instead choosing to create a fresh, 21st century version of the frontier, vigilante hero.
But the man who would eventually play the slave-turned-bounty hunter, Jamie Foxx, did have a few role models and visions.
“There are a few people that I would privately look at. Of course, Denzel Washington in Glory, I would also look at Tombstone, I would also look at New Jack City,” the Oscar winner told The Hollywood Reporter at the film’s premiere on Tuesday. “During the whole taping, whenever it was action scenes, I listened to Biggie on the set. So we played, ‘The weak and the strong, you’ve got it going on, you’re dead wrong.’ ”
As a Grammy winner who also won an Oscar for portraying Ray Charles, Foxx found music a constant source of inspiration and a steadying frame of reference. As the scenes shifted from action to romance, the genre of his warm-up tunes changed as well.
“When Kerry Washington saw me — when Broomhilda sees Django for the first time — I played some music before she saw me, it was Faith,” he said, referring to singer Faith Evans, before breaking into song. Broomhilda is Django’s wife, and freeing her from the ranch of the evil Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) was Django’s driving motivation.
Washington spent much of her time on camera being tortured, either physically or mentally, and Foxx, as Django, suffered his own indignities, with whips and shackles. Despite all the difficult-to-watch depictions of slavery and the brutality with which masters treated their slaves, Foxx held some hope in his heart — with some help from a friend.
“I would wear Sean Jean clothes just to sort of like, for one, Puffy is a friend, a black man doing his thing,” Foxx explained. “So I would wear his clothes and I would be like, ‘Listen, I’m not trying to be weird on you,’ I told him, I wore it as sort of a representation from the future to the past of where we were actually going: to where a black man can own his own company, do records, own all these different things. So there were these little things that I would take along with me to push the character forward.”
Email: Jordan.Zakarin@THR.com; Twitter: @JordanZakarin
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