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For ‘Django Unchained,’ Tarantino Was Told Slaves Need to Fight Back

Filmmaker Reginald Hudlin says Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, an upcoming movie starring Academy Award-winner Jamie Foxx as a fugitive who gets revenge against his white slave masters, is a fast-moving, action-packed tome that’s far from your typical slave movie—and with good reason: Hudlin convinced Tarantino that the only way a pre-Civil War movie would find success with African Americans is if the story featured slaves who fought back.

In an interview conducted with just days after he and Django Unchained star Kerry Washington screened an exclusive seven-minute clip of the film at the National Association of Black Journalists convention, Hudlin said he and Tarantino debated the merits of slave movies more than a decade ago—a talk in which Hudlin said he was “really blunt”: he told Tarantino, “these movies should be exciting, they should be action-packed and most of all, I felt like they should have plenty of kicking ass because at the end of the day, the world needs black people who fought back.”


Tarantino, Hudlin said, listened. “He came back 13 years later and said, ‘Hey man, I’ve finished my new script,’” Hudlin said. “And he handed me a script and said, ‘You planted the seed; this is the tree.’ And then I read it, and then he was very excited, he wanted to know what I thought and I said I loved it.” As a favor, Hudlin gave Tarantino notes on his rough draft and the filmmaker liked them so much that he asked Hudlin to be a producer on the film. “And when someone is trying to do the right thing and asks for some help, the only responsible thing to do is roll up your sleeves and get to work,” Hudlin said.

The trailer for Django Unchained, featuring Jamie Foxx as a slave-turned bounty hunter who sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi slave owner, has received rave reviews for its fast-moving dialogue, James Brown soundtrack and dramatic Tarantino-styled action and bloodshed. The movie, which also stars Samuel L. Jackson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill and Don Johnson, is slated for a Christmas Day 2012 release.

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