As Waltz goes lead, might we want to keep an eye on Samuel L. Jackson in 'Django Unchained?'

Posted by · 4:42 pm · November 8th, 2012

The acting races are in full sprint at this point. Everyone concedes the Best Actor race is stuffed to the gills, only more so with consistent additions. The lead actress category began to look a bit fuller when Helen Mirren’s name was thrown into the ring and, as Guy pointed out yesterday, features plenty of performances for Academy members looking to venture even the least bit out of their comfort zones.

One actress recently added to that flock is Jessica Chastain in “Zero Dark Thirty,” which will screen for press at the end of the month. And another added to the boys’ club is Christoph Waltz in “Django Unchained,” as reported earlier today. Many who have read the script (probably the most widely read awards season hopeful before the fact ever) had noted that Waltz felt like more of a co-lead in the piece. But the way I hear it, as good as Waltz may be in the film, this all likely clears some room in the supporting ranks for a pair of actors poised to strike.

The first one we all know, based on the trailer, was chewing the scenery and clearly on a tear. Hence, Leonardo DiCaprio has been in our Best Supporting Actor predictions since day one, and many other outlets followed suit. According to a non-vested source who’s seen the film, he really is a wicked delight and even a bit controversial.

“Leo is BIG,” the source tells me. “But in this context and this world, it works really well and his boyishness acts as a good mask for the underlying evil inherent in the character. He’s ticky and actory, but in a way that I wasn’t used to seeing him. And the movie is pretty controversial and offensive (there’s a couple scenes involving him that are pretty hard to watch), so there’s the whole ‘brave’ factor involved. Which, I guess, could work against him as well.”

However, the actor who really stands out, this person says, is Samuel L. Jackson. “He is in BY FAR his best role in a long while,” the source says. “And he’s not phoning it in.”

Foxx is fine, I’m told, “and doesn’t detract from the film, but he doesn’t really add to it either. He plays it in a very modern way. QT’s dialogue doesn’t really sound natural coming out of him. But that’s okay because it’s a riff on the whole Man With No Name, so he doesn’t have too may monologues, as the others do.” The source says that, in his/her opinion, Waltz “kinda carries” Foxx.

The film “is way overlong and of course not everything works,” the source goes on, “but it’s wildly entertaining and full of legitimately badass moments, especially for a western fan. The pulpy/genre elements don’t at all serve to view the controversial stuff with ironic detachment, as I thought they did in ‘Inglorious Basterds’ (and I know I’m in the minority on that). Rather, they elevate those aspects with heart in only the way QT really can. More along the lines if ‘Kill Bill.’ It’s his own world mixed with some pretty brutal and fucked up stuff…and I don’t think the ‘N’ word has ever been used so much in a film…but it works, and is full of rousing moments.”

So, there you go. Just one person’s opinion. I wouldn’t say there’s anything there shocking/surprising, particularly given the fact that everyone and their brother has gotten their hands on this script (I never bothered reading it). But it’s nice to know Sam Jackson could be a fall surprise amid the usual this season.

“Django Unchained” opens everywhere Christmas Day.

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