Deadline is reporting that Leonardo DiCaprio is in early negotiations to play the villainous slave owner in Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming Spaghetti Western Django Unchained. According to Deadline, DiCaprio would play Calvin Candie, the owner of a club called Candyland where female slaves are used for sex and male slaves are pitted against each other in gladiatorial contests.
The role would be a significant break for DiCaprio, who despite his many spectacular starring roles as gritty and morally ambiguous protagonists, has yet to play an outright villain. It’s hard to see how a role like this would leave any room for the last of DiCaprio’s boyish Titanic-era charms, however. One thing is for certain, along with DiCaprio’s work with James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, his long-running association with Martin Scorcese and his lead role in the Clint Eastwood-helmed J. Edgar Hoover biopic currently in production, he has become the
In other Django news, the search for the titular character goes on, with Will Smith named as the front runner but not expected to commit, with other names such as Idris Elba, Jamie Foxx and even Chris Tucker in the mix. This at least puts paid to earlier rumours that Franco Nero, the original Django, might reprise his role.
It’s very difficult to imagine how a film with this sort of casting could possibly work, and the lurid, exploitative plot details leaked thus far sound abominable. However, subverting expectations and casting against type has been one of the trademarks of Tarantino’s career, and if he made a concept as bizarre and offensive as Inglourious Basterds work, who’s to say what else he can and can’t do?