Tarantino has played with fire before, but on “Django Unchained,” the writer-director says, “I had the most trepidation about staging all the scenes that dealt with large casts of extras as slaves being moved from one place to another. It was just so ugly and painful, (asking them) to subject themselves to that.”
Tarantino sought out the counsel of Sidney Poitier, whom he invited to dinner to discuss the issue.
“He goes, ‘That’s just the way it is. They get that. They’ll understand that, or they wouldn’t take the job. It sounds like you’re scared of your own movie, and you have to get over that,’?” recalls Tarantino. “And he was right — I had to get over that.”
Tarantino says before one big sequence, he thanked the assembled actors that “this is really ugly and fucked up, but we’re doing this for a purpose and we wanted to let people know what it was like.” And as Poitier predicted, they were on board.
Though they knew exactly what they were getting into, “Django” stars Jamie Foxx and Kerry Washington found it difficult to reenact the historic humiliation.
“The scene where Kerry gets whipped (was filmed) in the part of a plantation that was the slave quarters,” Tarantino says. “We know that real slaves had been whipped there. There was blood on the ground, blood in the trees. We felt their spirits watching over the movie.”