Despite his huge fan appeal, Quentin Tarantino has not graced the massive Hall H at Comic-Con before. But that changed today when the man known as QT brought some of his latest creation, Django Unchained, to the event Saturday morning.
Arriving on stage at a thronged Hall H, Tarantino had rounded up Jamie Foxx (dressed for the occasion in hat and beard), Walton Goggins, Don Johnson, Christoph Waltz and Kerry Washington to accompany him.
Thanking fans for standing in line for so long, the director began by explaining that he’d had the film in his noggin for 13 years and had long wanted to do a Western.
Foxx took the opportunity to address the movie’s more controversial racism / slavery aspects, saying, “We're grown up. We're big boys and big girls now. But you expect Quentin to blow the walls off it.” He also pointed to his own history, having grown up in Texas and being called the N word – explaining that it helped his understanding of the script, with the project having special relevance to him.
Christoph Waltz, meanwhile, described his character Dr King Schultz as Yoda to Django, which then sent Tarantino comparing Django to Luke Skywalker.
The story, according to Tarantino is not necessarily one of slavery; this is him taking the Western genre and adding the south and a black character. King is the gunfighter who teaches the know-nothing kid how to be a gunslinger, a classic trope from the genre.
Naturally, the Django gang had arrived with footage, an 8-minute sizzle reel spliced together from material shot after the first half of shooting was complete. Full of QT’s trademark violence and wit, it’s akin to some of the recent trailers and also the reel shown in Cannes this year.
Afterwards, Tarantino explained that it was originally shown to industry types, remarking that if it was good enough for the business types, it was good enough for the fans. Cue a standing ovation!
Asked about working on the movie, Walton Goggins – who plays brutal slave trainer and quick draw shooter Billy Crash – said that he didn’t want to close his eyes while working on the movie for fear that it would all turn out to be a dream.
Sadly, Samuel L Jackson could not be there, but Tarantino still talked about his character, Stephen, who is Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio)’s house slave, the man who effectively raised Candie and not the most sympathetic character in the movie.
With Don Johnson questioned next, Tarantino couldn’t resist saying, “We have Crockett and Tubbs!” pointing out that the original Crockett (Johnson) and the Michael Mann Tubbs (Foxx) are here. He certainly knew how to work this audience. According to Johnson, he found the voice for his character by imitating the voice of Michigan J Frog, the top hat sporting Warner Bros. ‘toon character.
Kerry Washington talked about Broomhilda’s background, owned by a German family (which explains the name), and said she speaks German in the film. She was terrified and even had to sing a lullaby in the language, though Christoph Waltz praises her commitment, saying the song was so beautiful it almost made him cry. "There was nothing to coach,” he says, even as she explains he helped her out with learning the lingo.
Tarantino revealed that they had one more week to shoot on the film, and talked up Jonah Hill’s presence. He and Johnson take part in a sequence where their group, the Regulators (a precursor to the Klu Klux Klan), attempt to assault King and Django. According to the director, it starts out very intense, but becomes one of the funniest sequences he’s ever written.
Before the audience question segment began, Tarantino explained the most intriguing link between Django and the wider world. According to him, Broomhilda Von Shaft and Django will eventually have a baby, and that baby will have a baby…and then John Shaft will be born! Our hero and heroine are the Great, Great, Great Grandparents of Shaft…
With the clock run down on the audience Q&A portion, that’s it. “We’ll see you at Christmas!” shouts QT. Though we’ll have to wait to open our present, as Django Unchained makes it to these shores on January 18 next year.