Quentin Tarantino definitely has a knack for resurrecting the careers of actors (see: John Travolta in Pulp Fiction) or catapulting unknowns to stardom (see: Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds). He also has a thing for putting together some great casts, as evidenced by his next project, Django Unchained.
Many an eyebrow was raised at Tarantino’s decision to cast Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx in the titular role, when other candidates (like Idris Elba) seemed like more of a natural fit. Unusual casting decisions are also part of the filmmaker’s trade – and Foxx as a menacing ex-slave-turned-bounty-hunter won’t be the only slightly unorthodox actor-role pairing in Django.
Word has it that multiple Oscar-winner Kevin Costner is in negotiations to join the cast of Django Unchained, along with Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Waltz as (what else?) a German bounty hunter. Between this and his role in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, Costner will once again be showing up in films that… well, the majority of moviegoers will at least hear about (sorry, The Company Men).
Here’s where things get really interesting – check out Deadline‘s description of Costner’s would-be role in Tarantino’s latest:
Costner is in talks to play Ace Woody, and it’s a real surprise turn for an actor most associated with good guy roles. He’s the sadistic trainer of the male fighting slaves who entertain the white patrons of Candyland as well as the female slaves who are forced to be prostitutes. The club and ranch are owned by Calvin Candie (DiCaprio) and Ace Woody is the one who pits the “mandingo” fighters against one another, and has little qualms about mistreating and even killing the slaves who don’t measure up.
No doubt, that would be a change of pace for Costner – not to mention, further proof that Tarantino’s southern revenge/spaghetti western throwback piece really is set to tackle some pretty uncomfortable subjects (racism, slavery) in a fittingly unique style.
Costner’s days as the rugged leading man of big hits like Dances with Wolves and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves are unfortunately well behind him. His star status has recovered a bit over the past decade, but has never been quite so high as it was before he appeared in duds like Waterworld and The Postman during the mid-90s. So if any one of the confirmed cast for Django Unchained is in the position to make a comeback, it’s arguably Costner.
Will Costner be able to pull the part of Ace Woody off? It requires a bigger stretch of the imagination to envision the actor as a barbaric slave trainer than DiCaprio as Mr. Candie or Foxx as Django, but that’s also clearly meant to be part of the fun. Just like John Travolta riffed on his Saturday Night Fever days in Pulp Fiction, Costner would essentially be subverting his image as the charming type he played in movies such as Field of Dreams or Bull Durham. Sounds good by us.
Django Unchained is expected to begin production before the year is out. It is scheduled for theatrical release on December 25th, 2012.