Does the Shuffling Cast of Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained’ Signal Chaos on Set?

Right from its very beginning, Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming spaghetti Western wannabe Django Unchained was a project whose casting rumors involved far more actors than could have actually been included in its cast. In addition to names being thrown around that just turned out to be wishful thinking, actors like Jonah Hill and Joseph Gordon-Levitt were said to be close to taking roles in the film, but ultimately never signed up due to scheduling conflicts. Even Kevin Costner, who had signed on to play the role of Ace Woody, eventually had to be replaced by Kurt Russell because of scheduling issues. What’s the deal with all of these scheduling issues? What does Tarantino have going on out there in the desert?

There may be no hard and fast answers to that question coming, but what is clear is that, even though shooting on the film has commenced, two more names have now dropped out of the cast. The Film Stage brought to our attention that, during an appearance on Howard Stern, Sacha Baron Cohen announced that he wouldn’t be able to make his planned appearance in the film due to promotional commitments for The Dictator. Soon after, Variety’s Jeff Sneider broke the news on Twitter that Kurt Russell had also left the cast.

Rumors are swirling all over the Internet about what these new defections mean, with the most credible sounding of the bunch coming from an AintItCoolNews report that claims re-writes being done on the script during shooting have led to Russell’s character of Ace Woody being combined with a character named Billy Crash that’s being played by Justified actor Walton Goggins. The AintItCool report presents Russell’s departure as being a natural side-effect of the fluid nature of telling a story, but whether or not doing on-set re-writes so extensive that a big name actor like Kurt Russell gets sent home is business as usual is certainly up for debate.

Are these most recent departures just small hiccups that seem like bigger deals than they actually are because Tarantino is working with so many notable names, or, after Django Unchained comes out, can we expect it to be followed by a Heart of Darkness-type documentary detailing everyone’s experiences being trapped out in the desert with an insane Quentin Tarantino in charge of a production that has gone off the rails? Most likely it’s going to be the former, but it’s way more fun to think about the latter.

Weaned on the genre films of the 80s. Reared by the independent movement of the 90s. Earned a BA for writing stuff in the 00s. Reviews current releases at

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