Django Unchained movie poster

[INTERVIEW] DJANGO UNCHAINED: Producer Reginald Hudlin Says its Not Another Slave Movie

The celebrated filmmaker and producer of one of the most anticipated films of the year tells us what's in store, and why Tarantino can't get enough of our stories

Kelley L. Carter

by Kelley L. Carter, June 27, 2012

Django Unchained movie poster

EBONY: All we have to go on right now is the trailer that’s out. And in the opening scene of it, we see the tree welts on black backs, but then it kicks into gear and kind of gives us what this film is about. Talk to me about selling this film to the black community. Is there any trepidation that you guys have? Because even though it seems to be a spaghetti Western, it’s still set in an ugly time period for us …

RH: I mean, look, the fact is whenever something historical happens with black folks, we get a little nervous, because the past has not been good to us. And so yeah, we’re good where we’re now, we’re doing better and better every year. I’ve always known those classic Western stories, those stories of good versus evil and standing up and fighting for your rights and fighting civilization, those really apply to us. Those really are perfect vehicles for our struggle. And at the end of the day in a Western, you know what you’re going to get, which is that the righteous will vanquish the evil and … I feel like as long as we deliver that to the audience, we’ll be alright. Because that’s what you want to see.

EBONY: There have been other great films set during that time period that failed at the box office because people – black and white -- just don’t want to be reminded. What gives you the confidence that this one will be the one to break past it?

RH: I always start very simple with an audience of one. What do I want to see? And if I feel passionate about it, I feel that other people will be passionate about it, and that’s been pretty consistent for me. This is a movie where when I read the script, I wanted to see it. And just the response that I’ve been getting from the trailer is that a whole lot of people feel the same way.

EBONY: What’s the chatter like on set when you guys are filming this? In spite of the fun that is going to be had in an action film like this, there still are some dark moments -- like that opening scene from the trailer -- and you have to film those images.

It’s the full range. On the one hand, it’s great when you have people like Samuel Jackson, Kerry Washington, Jamie Foxx who are veterans in this business working together, because they enjoy each other. They don’t always get to work together. And then you have their white counterparts, you know, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz, so you actually just have some of the best actors in Hollywood working together, regardless of race. And that doesn’t happen enough. And I think the actors really revel in that. And then you have all those wonderful, seasoned actors working with young actors and talk with them and giving them advice. Or the young actors, sometimes they won’t even be shooting on a day, but they’ll come to set just to watch the other actors work. I’ll turn around sometimes and I’ll see four young actors watching Sam Jackson like he was doing a stage play and it’s just like, ‘We just wanna watch and learn.’

EBONY: Right. He’s a fun guy too.

RH: Exactly! And that’s a mind-blowing, wonderful thing. And in terms of the content, there are really some days where people are like, ‘wow, we just really brought home what this movie was about, particularly when we’re shooting on an actual slave plantation.’ But then when we shoot the payback scenes people are stunned. They’re like, ‘Yeah, kill him! Get him!’ White people, they’re like, ‘Come on!’ And that’s the thing that’s so interesting, because, you know, we have not just a multi-ethnic cast, but a multi-ethnic crew, you know, white people and black people and Asian people and a lot of Native Americans. It was actually the biggest Native American crew of people I’ve ever worked on and just to have all those perspectives and all those spirits coming together it makes it a really fantastic experience.

EBONY: As much as we hate boxes, we kind of live in a world where we need boxes and categories. How are you going to classify this? Is it a black movie or is it something different?

RH: It’s a Quentin Tarantino movie.

EBONY: Touche. And every inch of it looks to be so.

RH: Right. And that’s the thing, when I say that people go, ‘Oh, I know what that is!’ What is Jackie Brown? Is that a black movie? Is that a white movie? What is that?

EBONY: You’re right. It’s hard to define. Which is a good thing.

RH: Yeah. I mean, there’s no category other than the category that it is.


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