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Tarantino wants Will Smith for ‘Django Unchained’

Christoph Waltz attached to play Dr. King Schultz, one of the other leads

Will Smith is Quentin Tarantino’s first choice for one of the two leads in his latest project, “Django Unchained.” The director’s new screenplay has been making the Hollywood rounds over the past week.

Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” star Christoph Waltz is attached to play Dr. King Schultz, the other lead. While the title role has yet to be cast, Tarantino wrote the script with Smith in mind, and multiple sources tell Variety that he’s already been offered the role informally.

Story centers on a slave-turned-bounty hunter on a mission to rescue his wife Broomhilda from her sadistic slavemaster.

Insiders say Smith would be willing to give up his usual $20 milsalary for the chance to tackle different, more controversial material — just as Brad Pitt did to star in “Basterds.” And Smith has long been seeking edgier roles.

Tarantino is said to have reached out to Pitt for one of the numerous juicy supporting roles in “Django,” but the actor has decided not to pursue the project at this time.

Tarantino has also been looking to work with Leonardo DiCaprio. Several years ago, Variety reported that Tarantino was courting DiCaprio for the villainous role of Hans Landa in “Basterds” (July 15, 2008), which ultimately went to Waltz. Likewise, Tarantino is believed to have written the role of Dr. Schultz for DiCaprio, but when he passed, it was modified for Waltz.

Tarantino is also seeking a reunion with Samuel L. Jackson, who is being courted for the role of Stephen, the main servant to the chief antagonist in the Southern-flavored Western.

While “Django Unchained” does not yet have a distributor, Harvey Weinstein has handled distribution for all of Tarantino’s movies. Perhaps coincidentally, Weinstein paid a visit Friday at CAA, which reps Smith.

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