This is how things work on the Internet these days.
Rumor travels at light speed, and assumption becomes fact before anyone stops to consider what they’re printing. I’ve certainly made my share of mistakes, but I’ve only really done so when I took a short-cut or when I took someone else’s word for something without doing my own legwork. I don’t count moments where I’ve reported on a story in progress only to see things change later, because that’s one of the things you have to accept doing this job. I’m talking about moments where I printed a rumor that simply wasn’t founded in fact, and I think I’ve gotten much, much better about that over time.
The more anticipation there is for a film, the faster a rumor will travel, and by that standard, people must really be looking forward to Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained,” because two distinct rumors, both fueled by Twitter, have lit up the Internet over the last few days. In both cases, I find the suggestions provocative and exciting, but anyone reporting either of these as fact right now is reaching.
First, the great Idris Elba, familiar to “Wire” fans as Stringer Bell and “Thor” fans as Heimdall, tweeted the following on the 29th of May:
“Having one of the biggest meetins of my professional life today… meeting a very controversial director for a very controversial part. :-/”
There’s nothing there that explicitly says he’s talking about Tarantino or “Django Unchained,” but having read the script, I think it’s safe to assume there will be some controversy inherent to the subject matter when “Django” is released. Then again, I assumed there would be more controversy when “Inglorious Basterds” was released, and that was a relatively peaceful release overall. Maybe the difference is that Americans have a harder time grappling with the reality of slavery and what that was like than we do with WWII, where we know we were on the side of right. With slavery, especially when it’s presented like this, there’s no flinching away from the ugly truth of things. And trust me… “Django Unchained” gets plenty ugly.
Would Idris Elba be a great choice to play Django in the film? God, yes. And I retweeted his original message, telling him directly that I would declare a national holiday if he ends up playing the part. I think Elba has amazing charisma onscreen, and he’s overdue for a role that breaks him as a movie star. I thought “The Losers” was a nice start, but not enough people saw it, and his part in “Thor” isn’t big enough to do the trick. Watching Elba go toe to toe with Christoph Waltz would be positively delicious, especially if the two of them end up battling Leonardo DiCaprio in the film.
Wait… what? See, that’s the other big rumor that broke about the film. Jeff Goldsmith, the grand poobah behind Creative Screenwriting, put out a Tweet this morning, which read as follows:
“Casting Rumor: Leonardo DiCaprio WILL play villian Calvin Candie in Tarantino’s Django Unchained! QT wanted him for I.B. & now has him!”
Calvin Candie is a gigantic piece of garbage in the script, and seeing DiCaprio play a part like that would tap nicely into the unrepentant prick that I think is lurking just below the surface of many of his performances. There’s an anger and an arrogance that he applies in roles in “Inception” and “Shutter Island” that would be incredible put to service playing one of the worst people in film history, and I think it would make the film feel like an event the way Will Smith would have if he had played Django, as originally rumored.
I know that they are reading people and having conversations with them about the role of Django, so Smith either passed on the film or Tarantino wants to explore other options. Either way, the idea of Elba and Waltz and DiCaprio filling out these roles in the film is very exciting. But right now, connecting the dots has people jumping to conclusions, and it sounds to me based on conversations I’ve had like it’s still early days on this one. The film has no start date and no release date, so Tarantino has plenty of time to figure this one out.
Believe me… as this cast starts to officially drop into place, we will report each decision with elation. For now, file both of these names as rumor and nothing more.