It’s not really all that surprising to see the promised cast of a movie change and shift prior to filming, but that makes it no less depressing for fans hoping to see certain beloved actors in certain exciting roles created by certain brilliant filmmakers. To wit, today’s news that both Sacha Baron Cohen and Kurt Russell have left Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained.
Baron Cohen revealed his departure to Howard Stern on May 8, saying that his role in the film, which he estimated to be a cameo no longer than 10 minutes, had to be scrapped due to scheduling conflicts. Specifically, Baron Cohen’s promotional tour for his upcoming satire of megalomaniacal political strongmen The Dictator, prevented him from filming the scenes for Django Unchained.
Even more depressing however, is word that Kurt Russel has likewise departed from the film. Though the move was confirmed by Russell’s representatives, no real reason was offered for the departure. That said, I Watch Stuff points out a recent comment on the IMDB message boards that states, in part, “Apparently Kurt was unhappy with his role saying it wasnt [sic] Western enough.”
Assuming you believe the words of an anonymous IMDB commenter — and, to be totally clear, we aren’t saying you should — that’s both sad news for fans of Kurt Russell and for those hoping that Django Unchained will be a quality Western. After all, Russell’s work in 1993’s Tombstone was quite good, and while the film itself didn’t quite attain the same level of genre adoration as 1992’s Unforgiven, it was still one of the better latter-day Western flicks. Russell would know a thing or two about Westerns, is what we’re saying.
That said, if that comment is correct and Django Unchained isn’t quite the Western we’ve been imagining since it was announced, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Tarantino doesn’t so much make movies in a specific genre as he makes films that homage the broad strokes of each genre as a whole. Based on his past work it seems far more likely that Django Unchained might seek to capture the ambience and spirit of the Italian-made Westerns of the 1970s — Tarantino’s childhood fascination with these things is well documented — as opposed to the actual rigors of life in the American West circa the late 19th century.
Also, foot worship. Tarantino is nothing if not dedicated to his chosen kink.