Tarantino 'Unchained,' Part 1: 'Django' Trilogy?
In the first of a Q&A series, the director tells our editor-in-chief about his next black film.
HLG: Did you, as a white director, and your black characters have disagreements or moral dilemmas that clashed when you were making decisions like this?
QT: I never, ever relate or touch base with Quentin when I'm writing my pieces -- people can say to a fault. I follow the characters wherever they want to go.
The most I have anything to say in the matter maybe happens in the first half of the story, because I have to plan it out a little bit, build the road a touch, but I don't try to figure out much more as far as the story is concerned from the second half on. Because I know by that time -- and you're trying to predetermine something before you're actually writing -- by the time I'm actually writing, I've gotten to half of the story.
Now everything's different. I'm now those people. I've learned more about them. I am them. They are going their own way. And I might have some places I want them to go. Usually they take their time about getting there. But sometimes they get there. And if they don't want to go there, if they want to go their own way, that's them telling me it's bulls--t. So I follow their way. For better or for worse.
So the characters really dictate and really decide. All my characters are coming from me. I don't think twice about my female characters or my male characters, my black characters or my white characters. And when I come into it, it really is to clean up plotting.
HLG: Let's see: We have Lincoln playing; Steve McQueen's Twelve Years a Slave is about to come out in the next year, I suppose; I'm co-producing a feature film on Frederick Douglass for Sony with Peter Almond and Rudy Langlais -- that's in development. [Editor's note: Sony Pictures is the international distributor for Django Unchained.] Why slavery now?
QT: Gosh, I don't know. Look, when I was doing this, I didn't know anything else was coming out. Frankly, nothing could have me more excited, from an American storytelling perspective and an American healing perspective, that maybe there is something in the air.
HLG: Why, then, was it in the air for you? Why, then, combine the slave narrative with the Western? And the romance, which is always part of the Western.
QT: It's two separate stories I've always wanted to tell. One, I've always wanted to tell a Western story. Two, I've always wanted to re-create cinematically that world of the antebellum South, of America under slavery, and just what a different place it was -- an unfathomable place. To create an environment and again, not just have a historical story play out -- they did this and they did that, and they did this and they did that -- but actually make it a genre story. Make it an exciting adventure.