Will Smith and Quentin Tarantino? Sounds like someone got their chocolate in my peanut butter and I am DIGGING it.
This is not, evidently, a done deal, and I would imagine Will Smith is not cheap, even if he really wants to be in a movie. He is one of the few truly reliable movie stars left in the world, able to open almost any movie. He has had a charmed career, with very few major missteps. Unfortunately, one of the biggest of those happened to be his last film, “Seven Pounds,” and I am not sure that retreating to the safety of a “Men In Black” sequel is the best choice. Seems too calculated to me, and with the way that process has been playing out so far, it may not have been the safe bet that he was counting on.
Reports have been surfacing this afternoon that Tarantino crafted the lead role in “Django Unchained” expressly for Will Smith, and that they’ve already had some informal talks about Smith playing the role. In order for Brad Pitt to make financial sense on “Inglorious Basterds,” he had to cut his asking price, and I’m sure Smith will have to do the same. This is a guy who can demand between $20 and $30 million per role, after all, and if Tarantino is really going to pull off this insane task he’s set himself with his new script, he’s going to need to spend every penny of what will do doubt be a sizable budget onscreen.
The most surprising thing I’ve heard about the possible casting for the film so far is the idea that QT wrote the role of Dr. King Schultz with Leonardo Di Caprio in mind. He really wants to work with Di Caprio, according to Variety’s Jeff Sneider, and it does make sense. There was a time when Di Caprio was in the running to play Hans Landa. Since that role eventually went to Christoph Waltz, launching him to international stardom, it makes sense that he would also end up stepping in to play Dr. King Schultz, which is a sensational role. As written, it will fit Waltz like a glove, and it will give him tons of screen time opposite Smith. Watching the two of them dig into the full meal that the script lays out for them will be a pure pleasure.
However, keep in mind… all of this is premature. The Weinstein Company hasn’t even pinned down a start date for the film, or announced that they’re making it, and there’s no start date yet. This discussion of Will Smith is early. I would be thrilled to see it actually happen, and this movie would pull him so far outside his comfort zone that it would have to be, at the very least, interesting, and there’s a chance it would give us a Smith performance the likes of which we’ve never seen. On those few occasions we’ve seen him dig deep and offer up anger onscreen, it’s suggested depths that remain unexplored in any of his films.
Even though Tarantino’s worked with both Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson, rumored to be in the mix as well, there are no guarantees yet regarding either one of them. If you’re reading that this is a done deal anywhere, that’s wrong. And if it turns out that Will Smith does not end up playing the lead role, that will not be a huge surprise.
But for now, it’s promising news, and I look forward to seeing how all of this comes together in the months ahead.