Kurt Russell and Sacha Baron Cohen Freed from 'Django Unchained'

May 10, 2012
Source: The Film Stage

Django Unchained

Not all news is good news, and it sounds like there's been more than a few bouts of bad luck when it comes to casting Quentin Tarantino's western Django Unchained. First, Kevin Costner had to step out of his role as Ace Woody, the right-hand man of ruthless plantation/slave-owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt has also been forced to step out of his role due to scheduling because of his directorial debut. Thankfully, Death Proof Kurt Russell stepped in for the former actor as the secondary villain, but it appears some trouble on the set has caused Russell walk away from the film.

In addition, it appears Sacha Baron Cohen, who landed a part in November, is no longer appearing in the film either, but for completely different reasons. The press tour for The Dictator is keeping him busy while he would be shooting the role in the film right now. It's not clear who will replace him or, since Cohen told Howard Stern (via The Film Stage) that it was more of a cameo role, if the role will just be written out completely. Meanwhile, there seems to be more tension about Russell's exit. Jeff Sneider from Variety tweeted about Russell's departure, and there's a rumor circulating on the IMDb message boards (where legitimate news sometimes surfaces) that Russell became unhappy with his part and the film in general because it wasn't "western enough" and simply walked off the set and never came back.

And so, since Russell had already been shooting, whenever someone replaces him, there will likely be some reshoots that need to be done. No matter who they get, the cast already has plenty of talent to keep people interested as it includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson, Gerald McRaney, Dennis Christopher, Laura Cayouette, M.C. Gainey, Don Johnson, Kerry Washington, Anthony LaPaglia, RZA, Tom Wopat, James Remar, James Russo and Todd Allen. Yeah that's some good stuff. We'll keep you posted on this snafu and a potential replacement for Russell.

UPDATE: Apparently Russell has not exactly been replaced, but AICN reports his character has been absorbed by Walton Goggins, a casting addition that was never officially announced, but has clearly been confirmed. Goggins is playing a nasty character named Billy Crash, and it sounds like he just might be the right hand man to Leonardo DiCaprio's Calvin Candle instead of Ace Woody, a role that might be written out completely now. Apparently Russell's exit may not have been as dramatic as rumored above, and Tarantino has adjusted quickly and easily to the change. Hopefully this is the last bit of trouble the film has.

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Reader Feedback - 22 Comments


I'll miss Cohen, but I'm glad Russell is out.  I think his acting is dated and he wouldn't offer a fresh take that meshes with the style of Tarantino that I love.  Oh and by the way, Tarantino never said Django Unchained would be a Western, he said it would be a Spaghetti Western, so Russell shouldn't have expected a Western to begin with.

peloquin on May 10, 2012


Dated? He was badass in Death Proof! He has the great ability to combine humor, charm, and psychosis into one character, which is perfect for Tarantino's writing style. 

grimjob on May 10, 2012


It won't matter who is in or out it'll still be good.

Bl00dwerK on May 10, 2012


I honestly love Tarantino but the more I hear about this project and the more I think it's going to be a let down, it's coming out in a few months and they haven't even wrapped on filming, it just seems rushed

HazedMind on May 10, 2012


Well, it's not a special effects heavy film, and Christmas is still over six months away, so I wouldn't say they're rushing. But the cast concerns mostly seem to involve scheduling. Hopefully this Russell thing is just an actor being a diva and not a sign of trouble for the film itself.

Ethan Anderton on May 10, 2012


Cohen stepping down is a good thing. He would have been awful in the role he was cast in. As AICN said in their article, Jonah Hill was Tarantino's first choice, and that's exactly how the part reads. Cohen's too old and his acting style would have been totally unbelievable. Reminds me of Mike Myers - the worst part of Basterds.

Matt on May 10, 2012


Sad news. And from a man who did a good Wyatt Earp, I guess he would know a Western when he saw one. But it sounds more like he's just being a diva. Whatever concerns and off-putting news I hear, I still feel excited to see this. That's the drawing power of QT. That's something you just can't buy.

Cracky on May 10, 2012


Still would have wanted Costner in it!

Ryderup on May 10, 2012


That's kinod a shame, I always like to see a Tarantino movie, even the bad ones have great moments in em.

Crapola on May 10, 2012


Bad news indeed, but this doesn't pull me down one bit.

Isildur_of_Numenor on May 10, 2012


Bummer.  I like Russel and Costner in cowboy-era roles.  Hopefully this movie will be good either way.  

Solo_Calrissian on May 10, 2012


Great missed opportunity for Russell, if indeed, he did walk out! Goggins will do ok as he's been in his share of Westerns! I would have loved to see this open an opportunity for a re-cast. Then, I'd say get Val Kilmer! He could knock the role out of the park!

Blue Silver on May 10, 2012


Anyone who chooses to do another film than to work with Tarantino is an absolute moron, its kind of like if the actors that worked with Hitchcock decided not to work with him, and they look back and said to themselves, shit im a idiot for choosing not to work with him, The same problem happened to Tarantino on Basterds, he couldnt get everybody he wanted, but he made a great film anyways. I love Russell, hope hes still in it, but him, Levitt, and Cohen are a bunch of idiots to not work with Tarantino, that should be a film actors dream to be chosen in a Tarantino film.

RockySullivan1938 on May 10, 2012


Who did he not get in Basterds?

Ryderup on May 10, 2012


NEVER call Levitt an idiot... He was conflicted for awhile, because it was going to be his first debut directing a feature length. He had supposedly a SMALL role in Tarantino's film, his idol, and Tarantino actually encouraged Levitt. By calling Levitt stupid, you're calling Tarantino stupid, which is not possible. Sorry for this rage moment...

GregDinskisk on May 10, 2012


I'm pretty sure with the other guys it is all scheduling conflicts as well.

Andrew DiDonato on May 10, 2012


shea whigham is my choice he was good in take shelter and machete

Derrick8602 on May 10, 2012


Goggins is awesome.  I want to see it more now

Daneforst on May 10, 2012


Who is Goggins?what has he been in?And if you don't know Kurt Russell is a diva, then read John Liguizmo's bio book, where he talks about Russell's attitude problem on the set...

jah p on May 10, 2012


He was on the FX TV series The Shield and is currently on Justified (for which he has been nominated for several awards). In terms of film roles, recent ones that jump to mind were bit parts in Predators and Cowboys and Aliens.

Andrew DiDonato on May 10, 2012


Am I the only one saddened by the loss of a potential square off, no matter how cheesy or minor, between Wyatt Earp and Wyatt Earp... in a western no less?

Akirakorn on May 10, 2012


Neighborhood Watch will make way more money and allow him more opportunity, Hollywood is a business and Jonah Hill is playing it well, he's got a Scorsese film lined up, and from what I hear is part in Django would have been a cameo, not a dumbass in the least

HazedMind on May 10, 2012

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