As “Django Unchained” made its way in front of cameras, Quentin Tarantino saw both the cast and script for his upcoming slavery/western/vengeance pic change as production moved along. Joseph Gordon-Levitt had to bail on his small role in the film, Kevin Costner couldn’t commit to his role either, Sacha Baron Cohen had to bow out, and Kurt Russell also exited the picture (and while Jonah Hill did initially turn down the movie due to scheduling, he was able to join later on, albeit in a different role). And it looks like yet another actor left the project over timing.
As his shooting days kept getting changed, Aussie actor Anthony LaPaglia found the schedule between “Django Unchained” running up against his role in Robert Connolly’s Julian Assange film “Underground,” which he signed on for this spring. And when push came to shove, he sided with Connolly who he had worked with before on “Balibo” — and he doesn’t mince words about what he saw happening on Tarantino’s film. “The production was just out of control, over-budget, it was everywhere. I had to formally withdraw. They recast it and they still haven’t shot anything. I could have said nothing and just hung out, I could be there shooting it now,” he told Australian site News, about the film which wrapped at the end of July.
And it seems the filmmakers thought LaPaglia would and should have bailed on “Underground” to keep waiting to work with Tarantino. “The people at ‘Django,’ their attitude more or less was, ‘Just dump the other film,’ but I couldn’t do it out of respect to Rob Connolly, out of respect to the material, out of respect to the commitment I’d made,” he said, noting that if he bailed on “Underground” it might have caused the entire film to collapse, as financing was raised and backed on his name.
Originally, LaPaglia was going to feature alongside Joseph Gordon-Levitt, with the pair playing “mean brothers.” In the script we read, these are some pretty small parts, amounting to only about 12 pages, but they participate in a comedic and crucial key scene near the end of the movie. But Tarantino has also clearly been changing things since then, so it remains to be seen whether those roles are still in the movie.
Regardless, his comments are an interesting perspective on the making the film. “Django Unchained” opens on Christmas Day.