It had to be the most hirsute panel at Comic-Con International’s cavernous Hall H. Between Christoph Waltz’s wild long grey hair and beard, Don Johnson’s shaggy ponytail and goatee, and Jamie Foxx’s long, unkempt facial hair, the trio of men who helped introduce Quentin Tarantino’s"Django Unchained" were a messy bunch. Which makes sense since filming a spaghetti western set in the antebellum South is no clean and tidy affair.
From the man whose last filmic outing involved murdering Hitler, “Django Unchained” is a revenge film that centers on Django (Foxx), a freed slave-turned-bounty-hunter who with the help of his mentor, Dr. King Schultz, (Waltz) unleashes a great fury on the men who abused him and his wife (played by Kerry Washington) and separated the two by selling them off to different plantations.
The film is a cross between a spaghetti western, in the vein of Sergio Corbucci, and a classic German fairy tale flipped on its head. Tarantino and his panelists, who also included Walton Goggins, Don Johnson and Washington, unveiled a seven-minute “sizzle reel” that showed just how gory, morbidly funny and entertaining the film promises to be. It was met with a standing ovation from the sizable San Diego Convention Center crowd.
The germ for the movie had been taking shape in Tarantino’s fruitful mind for the last 13 years: taking the western genre and setting it in the South prior to the Civil War, “where it’s unimaginable to think of the pain and suffering that went on in this country at that time,” Tarantino said.
Though the role required Foxx to don leg irons and wear a ridiculous bright blue Little Lord Fauntleroy suit to play the part of Django, the 44-year-old Oscar winner had no hesitation about jumping into the part.
“It all depends on where the script comes from,” Foxx said in an interview following the panel. “When Quentin Tarantino writes something, it’s the highest end of artistic achievement. And getting to work with him and with Christoph Waltz.... It would have been a terrible mistake to not try and hunt down this part that I think for the next 20 years will be a movie people will talk about.”
Washington told audiences that she was thrilled that she had to busy herself with learning how to ride a horse and speak German, two activities that helped her deal with the heavy prospect of playing a slave.
“I was so grateful that my character had to do two things that I’ve never done before because this film scared the [heck] out of me,” Washington told the rapt audience. “But that prepared me to step into this brutal world. Studying the German and the horseback riding kept me connected to the world when all I wanted to do was stay under the covers.”
Besides loads of gore and violence, Tarantino promised the audience that the film would have its fair share of his trademark humor. He even went so far as to promise that one scene -- involving the late casting addition of Jonah Hill -- rivals the scene in 1992’s “Reservoir Dogs” where Lawrence Tierney hands out color names to each of the guys in his gang, including Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi), Mr. Brown (Tarantino) and Mr. White (Harvey Keitel), among others. “It’s very funny," he said. "The funniest thing I’ve written since handing out the colors in ‘Reservoir Dogs.’ ”
With still a week left of shooting, Tarantino is so deep inside the production of “Django,” a movie he’s convinced will alter him forever, that he has no idea what he’ll do next. “This and ‘Kill Bill’ are my two big, great adventures,” he said. “I don’t know who I’ll be after this is all over.”
The Weinstein Co. will release "Django Unchained" on Christmas Day.