Things I Learned from the Django Unchained Press Conference

Posted by Alia Haddad on December 17, 2012 at 12:57 pm

Things I Learned from the Django Unchained Press Conference

Early yesterday morning, I slid out of bed, hazily brushed my teeth, and made my way to the Ritz Carlton on Central Park South by 9:30 a.m. to check in to the Django Unchained press conference. Never mind that my birthday party was the night before and it was dawn before I finally got to bed, I was determined to make this press conference that I was so kindly invited to. Why? Well, I just couldn’t miss, in good conscience, a press conference boasting talent of that caliber. Yup, they were all there: Quentin Tarantino, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, Christoph Waltz, Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington, Don Johnson, and even Jonah Hill (who has a very minor role in the film in question).

So I made it there, in one piece I might add. As DiCaprio started to answer his first question, he warned, “I’m incredibly tired.” Well that made two of us.

Tired or not, it was an opportunity I am so grateful I didn’t miss. If I had, after all, I would have had to learn second-hand that Harvey Weinstein initially asked Tarantino to make Django Unchained into a two-parter (a la his Kill Bill series), no doubt to spread profits, but that Tarantino reflected this notion because he thought it would be unfair to his audiences and because it would degrade the quality of the film (way to go, Tarantino).

I also would have missed the fact that there is an extended version of the movie, which, while isn’t entirely surprising given the public knowledge that Tarantino worked to cut the film into under three hours, would change the feel and effect of the film. Will Tarantino ever release this extended version? Well, it was left unclear, with Tarantino simply saying, “I’m going to wait until the film [as it stands] goes around the world, does what it does. And then I’m going to make a decision.” But don’t all you hopefuls worry, the Django Unchained comic book, released in a series, follows the original script, which Tarantino equated to a “novel.”

Anything else newsworthy? Well, not so surprisingly, DiCaprio initially had trouble accepting the true villainous nature of his character, but eventually decided take it all the way when Tarantino apparently told him, “‘If you sugar-coat this people are going to resent the hell out of you.’” That and, Tarantino asked his personal hero Sydney Poitier for advice on whether or not to out-source the extras that are playing slaves by filming those scenes in the West Indies for fear of bringing up American Slavery in a very real way. Poitier’s advice? According to Tarantino he said, “‘You can’t be afraid of your own movie. You just need to do it. Everybody knows what time it is. Just treat them with love and respect, treat them like actors not atmosphere, what we’re doing and what we’re trying to get across. You’re going to do this in the South. Those people need jobs.’”

Good press-conference, huh? It sure was. Hopefully, it has wet all you Banterers’ pallets! Check back here next Monday for our official review of Django Unchained.



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