Despite the flurry of casting announcements for filmmaker Quentin Tarantino's Old U.S. South-set Django Unchained that have broken over the last month, there's been one pivotal role left vacant through it all: Broomhilda, the wife of the eponymous slave-turned-bounty hunter (Jamie Foxx).
Kerry Washington has long been rumored for the part, which Tarantino reportedly (for a while) was eying as a potential star-making turn for an unknown actress. Now, however, Washington looks to have at last emerged as the winner in the unofficial casting contest.
Deadline is reporting that Washington's reps have begun "exclusive negotiations" for her to play Broomhilda in Django Unchained. This should be a higher-profile turn for the actress, who is probably best known for supporting turns in films ranging from popular awards fare (Ray, The Last King of Scotland) to mainstream blockbusters like the Fantastic Four movies or Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
The plot of Django Unchained is jump-started into action when three unsavory men - including the crooked Big John Brittle (M.C. Gainey) - rape and brutalize Broomhilda, while leaving her husband for dead, branded with the letter "R" (for "runaway") on his cheek. Django eventually joins forces with a German bounty hunter (Inglourious Basterds' Christoph Waltz), who helps the ex-slave track down and rescue his wife from the clutches of wicked plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).
While Broomhilda reads as almost being a glorified MacGuffin (re: plot-driving device) in Django Unchained, it ought to be pointed out that Tarantino has a history of writing strong and capable female characters - be it Beatrix "The Bride" Kiddo in Kill Bill, Kim in Death Proof, or Jackie Brown in... Jackie Brown. Plus, given that the cult auteur at some point fashioned the role of Broomhilda as a star-making turn for a newcomer, it stands to reason that Washington won't just be a flat "damsel-in-distress" in this film.
Overall, the actress will be surrounded by some great acting talent in Django Unchained - including, all of the aforementioned gentlemen, along with other fan-favorites like Samuel L. Jackson, Don Johnson, and Kurt Russell in significant supporting roles. Between those names and the destined-for-controversy subject matter, Tarantino's latest pulpy cinematic offering certainly reads as something worth looking forward to.
Django Unchained will be released in theaters around the U.S. on December 25th, 2012.