Jamie Foxx really wanted to star in Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” — so much so that he actually tried to talk Idris Elba out of taking the part when it looked like he was the frontrunner for the role.
During a chat at the Toronto International Film Festival to promote his latest film “Just Mercy”, the “Ray” Oscar winner revealed what happened when he learned that he was not on the shortlist of actors for “Django” after Will Smith passed on the part, and Idris Elba was rumoured to in contention for the role.
According to Foxx, he ran into Elba, who asked Foxx what he thought about the Tarantino project. Foxx, however, told Elba that his handsome good looks would be a distraction for the audience.
“Your beautiful black a** riding up on a horse, there’s going to be some problems for everyone,” Foxx said he told Elba.
Tarantino ultimately decided against Elba, saying his Britishness didn’t lend him the weight to play a vengeance-seeking ex-slave in the American South.
“Yeah, Idris is British and this is an American story,” Tarantino said in a 2013 interview.
“I think a problem with a lot of movies that deal with this issue is they cast British actors to play the Southerners and it goes a long way to distancing the movie,” added the director. “They put on their gargoyle masks and they do their accents and you are not telling an American story anymore.”
While Elba was taken out of the running, Tarantino was also considering Chris Tucker, Terrence Howard, Michael K. Williams and Tyrese before he met Foxx and decided he had found his Django.
“He was the cowboy,” Tarantino told Playboy in 2013. “Forget the fact that he has his own horse — and that is actually his horse in the movie. He’s from Texas; he understands. He understood what it’s like to be thought of as an ‘other.’”
Speaking at TIFF, Foxx confirmed that his Texas roots and the fact that he already owned his own horse — which did indeed wind up being Django’s horse in the movie — proved to be the deciding factor in his being cast.
You can watch the interview in its entirety above.