Luke Y. Thompson is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of Comic-Con.
Django Unchained a Shaft prequel? Really? There’s one more week of shooting on Django, and they just did scenes with Jonah Hill as a member of the Regulators (the pre-Civil War version of the KKK). Quentin Tarantino said it turned into one of the funniest scenes he’s ever done, which he says is up there with the name-colors conversation in Reservoir Dogs. There is one character in the movie that ties into the larger Tarantino-verse which he’s keeping a surprise, but he says Kerry Washington‘s character Brunhilde von Shaft is, in his mind, an ancestor of John Shaft – this prompted QT to start singing the theme song out loud. The panel was moderated by Anthony Breznican from Entertainment Weekly, who said he needed a whole new level of grandiloquent profanity to describe Django, a “twisted, bloody fairy tale,” before introducing Jamie Foxx, Walton Goggins, Don Johnson (with Jeff Bridges-looking facial hair and gray ponytail), Christoph Waltz (long hair and a bushy white beard that almost looks false, like Santa Claus), Washington, and Tarantino (in a leather jacket, dorky felt fedora, and a T-shirt depicting many of his characters as kids playing in a sandbox).
Asked about historical accuracy (i.e. will there be anything like killing Hitler,) Tarantino said there was no need: the pre-Civil War South can’t be depicted as any scarier or more surreal than it was in real life. Django begins the story as an anonymous slave on a chain gang and becomes a cowboy and hero at the end. Foxx drew on experiences growing up in Texas, where he said he had “certain parallel experiences” to Django.
Related: Hot Promo: ‘Django Unchained’
Waltz said he loved that Italians had taken the American genre of the western and made spaghetti westerns, and now American director Tarantino is appropriating their take on that genre. His character, a dentist named Dr. King Schulz, “doesn’t care about other white men.” He doesn’t “rescue” Django, but needs him.
Tarantino said he felt most westerns bend over backwards not to mention slavery, and placing western tropes in the antebellum South with a black character made it fresh for him.
The sizzle reel was put together with industry viewers in mind, (featuring only stuff from the first half of the movie, Tarantino noted). “If this is good enough for the industry, it’s good enough for the fans.” The audience predictably loved the exploding gushes of blood, gunshots, Johnny Cash music (possibly temp for the trailer, but let’s hope it’s not), Johnson decked out like Col. Sanders, Foxx shooting Mr. Friendly from Lost (Seriously, he looks exactly the same in this movie as he did on that show) in the chest saying “I like the way you die, boy,” the goofy giant tooth on a spring atop Waltz’ van, the bright blue suit worn by Foxx and mocked by slaves who can’t believe a free man would choose it, Foxx training as a gunslinger against a snowman, and wreaking righteous vengeance with a whip against one of the men who once tortured and branded him. Visually it felt perhaps closest to Kill Bill – which makes sense, since Kill Bill 2 was arguably Tarantino’s first go at incorporating the spaghetti western meme.
Goggins’ character was described as the kind of person Basil Rathbone used to play in swashbucklers, the “schemer who has the king’s ear.” Johnson got a big laugh when he said he worked on his Big Daddy accent by studying Foghorn Leghorn. It turns out Sacha Baron Cohen isn’t in the movie after all, but Quentin still wants to work with him on something. Answering the inevitable fan question, Tarantino said he has no idea what his next movie will be.
(Photos of Quentin Tarantino and Walter Goggins, Don Johnson, Kerry Washington, Christoph Waltz and Jamie Fox by Getty Immages)