Quentin Tarantino is getting ready to bring his latest pastiche work, Django Unchained, to life in cinematic form. The fast-talking filmmaker looks to have possibly roped in Will Smith to play the titular character, a creation that harkins back to Sergio Corb’s influential 1966 spaghetti Western, Django.

Now there’s a semi-rumor circling that Tarantino has lassoed another big name to star in his new film – none other than Leonardo DiCaprio, a fellow who the Pulp Fiction director had (reportedly) originally hoped to work with on Inglourious Basterds.

Jeff Goldsmith – who was also part of the first wave that spread the word about Smith and Tarantino teaming up for Django Unchainedtweeted the following earlier today:

Casting Rumor: Leonardo DiCaprio WILL play villian [sic] Calvin Candie in Tarantino’s Django Unchained! QT wanted him for I.B. & now has him!

DiCaprio is one of the hardest-working actors in the biz right now – and his involvement with upcoming titles like The Great Gatsby and The Wolf of Wall Street makes it difficult to imagine him being available for Tarantino’s latest. All the same, he could certainly make for one nasty, but refined, villain if the stars align on this rumor.

UPDATE: Variety is also now reporting that DiCaprio is in talks to sign on for Tarantino’s new film.

DiCaprio on the set of 'J. Edgar'

The alliteratively-named Mr. Candie is a wicked plantation owner, alive and well in the pre-Civil War Southern U.S. He’s also a slave trader and head of The Cleopatra Club, an institution that Tarantino’s Django Unchained screenplay (according to Bleeding Cool) describes as an “interracial joint… as long as by interracial you mean white men and black women.”

Django Unchained would follow the titular freed slave as he is tutored by a German bounty hunter (Basterds‘ Christoph Waltz) to become what an unconfirmed early description pegs as a “bad-ass bounty hunter himself.” The two thereafter join forces to rescue Django’s wife from Mr. Candie, whose right-hand man and house slave is said to be “an expert manipulator” who squares off against Django in (essentially) a death match. Samuel L. Jackson is said to be circling that role.

It’s starting to become all too clear just what that unconfirmed early description of Tarantino’s script meant when it said the project “deals with racism as I’ve rarely seen it handled in a Hollywood film.”

Idris Elba in Django Unchained?

The following tweet by Idris Elba over the weekend has prompted speculation that he too could be up for a role in Django Unchained:

Having one of the biggest meetings of my professional life today…meeting a very controversial director for a very controversial part. :-/

Obviously, there are numerous films roles and directors that would fit the term “controversial,” but the fact that Django Unchained is beginning to gain traction right now means it’s one of the more likely possibilities. Combine that with Smith’s “not yet officially committed” status, with regard to the starring role in Tarantino’s spaghetti western/blaxploitation homage mash-up set in the Old U.S. South (there’s a mouthful), and it’s entirely possible that Elba could also be a contender to tackle the role of Django.

Smith is definitely the bigger name, but Elba is arguably quite deserving of the term “fan-favorite”. He’s delivered numerous memorable supporting and/or leading performances over the past year alone (most recently, in Thor) – and Elba also possesses both the intimidating physical build and powerful screen presence to make the title part of Django Unchained very much an iconic one.

It’s also possible that Elba is up for a different part in the film – so fans of both actors may get to have their cake and eat it too.

Idris Elba as Heimdall in 'Thor'

Tarantino does not necessarily need an A-lister like Smith onboard to get a project the greenlight (he himself is a brand name that sells tickets). It seems more likely right now that DiCaprio could end up playing the villain in Django Unchained than Elba as the title character – even so, here’s hoping that neither one of these possibilities turn out to be merely a pipe dream.

Expect to hear more about Django Unchained in the near future.

Source: Jeff Goldsmith, Idris Elba

Update Source: Variety

“Django Unchained” header image artwork created by Federico Mancosu