Kurt Russell & Sacha Baron Cohen Exit ‘Django Unchained’ [Updated]

Published 3 years ago by , Updated July 23rd, 2013 at 9:23 am,

[UPDATE: We now have information about how Russell will be “replaced.”]

Filming on Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained is already well-underway – and yet, we’ve only just received word that neither Sacha Baron Cohen nor Kurt Russell will be appearing in the spaghetti western throwback after all.

Cohen, whose role in Django was always going to be a limited one, is already on the record as saying that his press tour duties for The Dictator prevented him from appearing in Tarantino’s new project; however, an official reason for Russell’s departure has yet to be announced. It also stands to mention that Russell was the replacement for Kevin Costner, who dropped out of Django early on during pre-production.

The news about Cohen leaving Django Unchained was made known by the actor, during an interview with Howard Stern (hat tip to HitFix for that tidbit). As the Oscar-nominated performance artist put it, his part was always tantamount to that of a cameo – where he would have portrayed a gambler named Scotty Harmony, who purchases Django’s enslaved wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) and takes her as a companion. So, all in all, it’s a small loss.

Russell dropping the role of Ace Woody (as first reported by Variety‘s Jeff Sneider), though, is a bigger deal. That character, who trains male slaves for death match battles meant to entertain paying white patrons in Django Unchained, has prompted comparisons to Christoph Waltz’ sadistic Nazi from Inglourious Bastards; moreover, the way Django deals with the issue of slavery in general has been described as unprecedented (for a Hollywood western, that is).

django unchained christoph waltz jamie foxx Kurt Russell & Sacha Baron Cohen Exit Django Unchained [Updated]

Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx in ‘Django Unchained’

Due to Tarantino’s ballsy approach to revisiting such a dark chapter in U.S. history, there’s been speculation that many of the people who’ve passed on Django – including, Russell, Cohen, Costner, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and even Jonah Hill – ultimately balked at the subject matter. Of course, with the exception of Russell, all of those actors have pretty solid alibis (namely, they’ve been busier than usual of late).

Whatever the real reason behind Russell’s departure, it’s the mixture of Sergio Leone western and blaxploitation tropes present in Django Unchained that has so many film geeks psyched to see Tarantino’s latest creation. The filmmaker’s pastiche style of pulpy storytelling can be pretty divisive at times (usually, earning more love than hate), but it’s certainly no longer unexpected, at this stage in his career.

Despite the casting setbacks, Django Unchained remains scheduled for a December 25th, 2012 theatrical release date in the U.S. We will let you know if that changes – along with any additional information about who is replacing Cohen and Russell.

UPDATE: AICN says that the Ace Woody character has essentially been merged with the “equally nasty” Billy Crash, who is being played by fan-favorite Walton Goggins (Justified). How’s that for making the best out of a rough situation?

Source: HitFix, Jeff Sneider

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  1. well that’s too bad, both of them would’ve have been interesting in a movie like this. hopefully the replacements will be as compelling as these two would’ve been

  2. I doubt I see this movie. For a lot of reasons.

  3. James Badge Dale would be a good fit.

  4. I couldn’t see Sacha Baron Cohen being in Django. He is too typecast into slapstick for me. Awesome in that though. [LINK REMOVED]

    • Nick,

      It’s fine if you just comment or link to material related to the article. However, if you continue to link/promote your own website, your comments are going to start being flagged as spam. Just a friendly warning/heads-up.

  5. Call me. I’ll take the Part. ~ Stark

  6. How many actors have dropped out of this movie? lol

  7. For what it’s worth I think Walton Goggins is a fine actor and I’m happy to hear that his role has been expanded… even at the expense of Kurt Russell.

    • Agreed!

  8. IMO anything that results in Walton Goggins getting more screen time is OK in my book.
    Kind of like 2010 was for John Hawkes hopefully between this movie and Lincoln 2012 will be the year Goggins breaks through to the mainstream.

  9. It would be nice to see Cohen do something that isn’t one of his characters (and I would have liked to see more of him in Sweeney Todd, even though his role was meant to be a small one). He has the talent for bigger and better things.

    • You should check him out in Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, he’s pretty good there too.

  10. Give us John hawkes! Who cares about Cohen? Give the russel role to hawkes!

  11. Just let me know when Tarantino does a film that isn’t just another homage to exploitation film, B-movie fare.

    • Have you seen inglorious bastards best picture nominee?

      Quentin T is one of the best screenwriters in the world and his movies are far from B movies.

      I’m really surprised to see so many people drop out of this role especially Kurt Russel. JGL and Hill? You think these guys would jump at the chance with working with one of the best directors around. Yeh they may be busy but its freaking Tarantino

      • No Brian. Tarantino’s films are B movie fare, just like the other guy you responded to said. It’s like he has not grown as a film director and it’s always this Exploitation genre. Can he do anything else? This guy dropped out of school in the 9th grade-never went to film school, and guess what? It’s really showing now, and has been for some years now. His style is almost too much. It’s not different and interesting anymore in 2015, it’s just like the stories are bloody and all over the place.