Friday, January 4, 2013

In Character: the Cast of Django Unchained

Similar to the varied and extremely talented cast of Lincoln, the ensemble of actors in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained deserve special mention. Here are the majority of the people who pop up in Django; many are a part of Tarantino’s worthy troupe, while others are better known in any number of films and TV shows. Enjoy!

Zoë Bell
Role in Django Unchained: Tracker
Notable Roles: Lost, Planet Terror, Whip It
Best Role: Best known for her fearless stunt work in Xena: Warrior Princess and Kill Bill (where she stunt doubled for Uma Thurman), Bell has never been better than the wise-ass, balls-to-the wall, go-for-broke version of herself in Tarantino’s own Death Proof. Watching her spin on that moving car without the security of straps is something I’ll never forget.

Michael Bowen
Role in Django Unchained: Tracker
Notable Roles: Jackie Brown, Kill Bill: Vol. 1, Walking Tall, Lost
Best Role: Everyone remembers Buck (he came here to… fuck, remember?), but Bowen’s protective, restrictive, and outright scary portrayal of the father of a child genius in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia is incomparable to anything else he’s done. That role should’ve launched him into the big leagues.

Robert Carradine
Role in Django Unchained: Tracker Lex
Notable Roles: The Big Red One, Escape from L.A.
Best Role: Carradine is arguably the most famous nerd of all time, playing Lewis Skolnick in Revenge of the Nerds and its many sequels.

Laura Cayouette
Role in Django Unchained: Lara Lee Candie-Fitzwilly
Notable Roles: Enemy of the State, Kill Bill: Vol. 2, Hell Ride
Best Role: Cayouette has popped up notably in a handful of films, but none more memorable than as Leonardo DiCaprio’s sister in Django Unchained. The way she pleads for her brother to behave at the dinner table is just… terrifying. (Note: I couldn’t find a still of Cayouette in Django, so that’s a picture of her telling Michael Madsen to clean up a shitty toilet in Kill Bill: Vol 2.)

Dennis Christopher
Role in Django Unchained: Leonide Moguy
Notable Roles: Chariots of Fire, Profiler, Deadwood
Best Role: That final race scene in Breaking Away, when Christopher’s character elects to tape his shoes to the bike pedals, is enough to call it his best role.

Bruce Dern
Role in Django Unchained: Old Man Carrucan
Notable Roles: They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, The Great Gatsby, The ‘Burbs, Monster, Big Love
Best Role: One of our finest living character actors, Dern has been stealing scenes for several decades, most prominently as a shamed vet sent home from Vietnam in Hal Ashby’s Coming Home.

M.C. Gainey
Role in Django Unchained: Big John Brittle
Notable Roles: Breakdown, Con Air, Happy, Texas, Club Dread, Beerfest, Lost
Best Role: Tough call. How about as the naked guy who chases down Paul Giamatti in Sideways? That took, you know… balls.

Walton Goggins
Role in Django Unchained: Billy Crash
Notable Roles: The Apostle, Miracle at St. Anna, Justified, Straw Dogs, Lincoln
Best Role: I mentioned Goggins’ marvelous work on The Shield in my Lincoln In Character post, and believe you me, that certainly hasn’t changed. He is flawless in that show.

Jonah Hill
Role in Django Unchained: Bag Head #2
Notable Roles: Knocked Up, Superbad, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, 21 Jump Street
Best Role: Now, admittedly, I’m not the biggest Jonah Hill fan. And although I’m still baffled by his Oscar nomination for Moneyball, that is easily his best work to date.

Don Johnson
Role in Django Unchained: Big Daddy
Notable Roles: Nash Bridges, Tin Cup, Machete, Eastbound & Down
Best Role: Oh God, does anything beat Miami Vice’s Detective James Crockett? Nah.

Rex Linn
Role in Django Unchained: Tennessee Harry
Notable Roles: Breakdown, Rush Hour, The Hunted, The Walking Dead, CSI: Miami
Best Role: Perhaps best known as Detective Frank Trip in CSI: Miami, I love Linn’s hammed up portrayal of crooked Treasury agent Richard Travers in the perfectly trashy action flick, Cliffhanger.

Franco Nero
Role in Django Unchained: Bar Patron
Notable Roles: Die Hard 2, Letters to Juliet
Best Role: You know the guy who asks Jamie Foxx to spell his name in Django Unchained? That’s Franco Nero, the original Django. That’s why he knows.

James Parks
James Parks (right)
Role in Django Unchained:
Notable Roles: From Dusk Till Dawn 2, Kill Bill: Vol. 1, Death Proof, Machete, Red State
Best Role: Parks has played Edgar McGraw (better known as Son Number One) in a handful of Tarantino-participated flicks. Take your pick which is the best.

Michael Parks
Role in Django Unchained: The LeQuint Dickey Mining Co. Employee
Notable Roles: Twin Peaks, From Dusk Till Dawn, Kill Bill: Vol. 1, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Red State, Argo
Best Role: Similar to his son, James, Michael Parks is best known for playing cranky Texas Ranger Earl McGraw in a handful of films. And while I LOVE his work as that character (particularly in From Dusk Till Dawn), his unrecognizable work as Esteban Vihaio in Kill Bill: Vol. 2 is easily his career highlight. I just can’t believe that’s him.

James Remar
Role in Django Unchained: Butch Pooch/Ace Speck
Notable Roles: Drugstore Cowboy, Blink, What Lies Beneath, Sex and the City, The Girl Next Door
Best Role: I love Remar in damn near everything I’ve seen him in, but he’s never been better than as Dexter’s twisted dad, Harry Morgan, in the titular Showtime program.

James Russo
Role in Django Unchained: Dicky Speck
Notable Roles: Beverly Hills Cop, A Kiss Before Dying, Dangerous Game, Donnie Brasco, Open Range, Public Enemies
Best Role: Russo’s ferociousness deserves specific mention, but I enjoy his work as River Phoenix’s aimless older brother (or is it his biological father…?) in My Own Private Idaho the most.

Tom Savini
Role in Django Unchained: Tracker
Notable Roles: Dawn of the Dead, Planet Terror, Machete, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Best Role: Two words: Sex Machine.

Amber Tamblyn
Role in Django Unchained: Daughter of a Son of a Gunfighter
Notable Roles: Joan of Arcadia, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, 127 Hours, House M.D.
Best Role: I can’t say that I’m the biggest follower of Tamblyn’s career, but I did enjoy her opening scene of The Ring. That shot of her in the closet? Whoa.

Russ Tamblyn
Role in Django Unchained: Son of a Gunfighter
Notable Roles: Father of the Bride, Seven Brides from Seven Brothers, The Haunting, Drive
Best Role: Oh this is easy: Amber’s dad has been around for a great long while, but he’s never been more effective than as the shady Dr. Jacoby in Twin Peaks.

Quentin Tarantino
Role in Django Unchained: The LeQuint Dickey Mining Co. Employee
Notable Roles: Pulp Fiction, Desperado, Four Rooms, From Dusk Till Dawn, Girl 6, Alias, Planet Terror
Best Role: QT gets a lot of shit for appearing in his own films. In fact, I read a glowing review yesterday of Django Unchained and it said the only fault of the film is the horrible casting of its director. While he’s no Brando, I do think Tarantino has the ability to bring some levity to his films. His best? Well, I think it takes balls to be the first speaking voice in your first movie, so I’ll go with his Mr. Brown from Reservoir Dogs. “Dick, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick.”

Tom Wopat
Role in Django Unchained: U.S. Marshall Gill Tatum
Notable Roles: Cybill, Jonah Hex
Best Role: No brainer: Luke Duke from the original Dukes of Hazzard.

And, hell, let’s discuss the stars as well:

Leonardo DiCaprio
Role in Django Unchained: Calvin Candie
Notable Roles: The Basketball Diaries, Catch Me If You Can, The Aviator, The Departed, Inception
Best Role: Damn tough call. As much as I love his anguished desperation in The Departed, I’m so remarkably drawn to what he did in Revolutionary Road. It was really quite profound.

Jamie Foxx
Role in Django Unchained: Django
Notable Roles: Any Given Sunday, Ali, Collateral, Jarhead, Miami Vice
Best Role: An obvious choice, but Jamie Foxx was simply perfect as Ray Charles. He elevated the standard of a musical biopic.

Samuel L. Jackson
Role in Django Unchained: Stephen
Notable Roles: Jungle Fever, Pulp Fiction, Fresh, Die Hard With a Vengeance, Unbreakable
Best Role: Christ, where do you even begin here? Best to keep it simple: the finest Samuel L. Jackson performance I have ever seen is as O-R-D-E-L-L R-O-B-B-I-E in Tarantino’s Jackie Brown.

Christoph Waltz
Role in Django Unchained: Dr. King Shultz
Notable Roles: Water for Elephants, Carnage
Best Role: Although I have yet to see any of the work Waltz did in his native Germany, I highly doubt any of his roles top Col. Hans Landa. That’s a bingo.

Kerry Washington
Role in Django Unchained: Broomhilda
Notable Roles: Ray, The Last King of Scotland, Mother and Child, Scandal
Best Role: While the movie usually gets written off as one of Spike Lee’s lesser efforts, I love Washington’s confidence in She Hate Me. She nailed that role.

Previous installments of In Character include:
Steve Buscemi
John Cazale
Don Cheadle
Patricia Clarkson
Cliff Curtis
Jeff Daniels
Viola Davis
Michael Clarke Duncan
Chiwetel Ejiofor
William Fichtner
Brendan Gleeson
Bruce Greenwood
Philip Baker Hall
Woody Harrelson
John Hawkes
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Richard Jenkins
Erland Josephson
Elias Koteas
Heath Ledger
the Cast of Lincoln
William H. Macy
Christopher McDonald
Alfred Molina
David Morse
Emily Mortimer
Gary Oldman
Guy Pearce
Kevin Pollak
Joe Pantoliano
John C. Reilly
Sam Rockwell
Campbell Scott
Michael Shannon
David Strathairn
Danny Trejo
Stanley Tucci
Emily Watson
Shea Whigham
Ray Winstone
Jeffrey Wright
Steve Zahn


  1. Yaay our favourite Leo and Waltz performances match!

    Also, " That took, you know… balls." <-- bahahahahahahaha! Made my day, man.

    Great post :)

    1. Nice! Leo in Rev Road is just remarkable. God, really shakes me up.

      BALLS of steel, that man.

  2. I love the casting that Tarantino put into that film. I'm glad he gave some nice parts for people like Dennis Christopher. I was wondering who played his character and I was shocked. I hope this film gives some of these actors more meaty roles... and more money.

    1. Hell yeah man, the cast was so good, and I love that so many famous people were in it, despite the size of their role. MANY of these people deserve much larger careers. Indeed.

  3. I have a major crush on Zoe ever since Death Proof. Her accent, her ability to kick my ass in .2 seconds. Also love Kerry, Sam, Jamie, Leo, Quentin, Russ, and Bruce.

    1. And what an ass kicker she is, right? Nothin' better than a hot chick who can throw down. Glad to see you like QT's acting abilities. Like I said, he's not the greatest, but I've always enjoyed his little cameos. He's one odd ball.

    2. Right? He plays his parts perfectly well, even in a movie I disliked like Planet Terror.

    3. The Rapist! He was so good there. Creepy fucker.

  4. This is awesome! I wish I could spot them all. Will be a fun game when it comes out on DVD.

    Yes! ORDELL ROBBIE! Couldn't agree more on Jackson's performance.

    1. I'm not even sure I spotted them all in the first viewing. A fun game indeed. So glad Ordell is your favorite Jackson performance. He's so good there.

      "Yeeeeah... I bet they asked you a shitload of questions."

  5. " That took, you know… balls." Ha ha!

    Another stellar post. Christoph Waltz as Hans Landa ... Samuel L. Jackson as Ordell Robbie ... Awesome stuff!

    1. Ha, thanks! Awesome stuff indeed!

      Also, sorry for the late response here... your comment went into the spam section for whatever reason.

  6. This is awesome, dude. I finally got to see Django yesterday and absolutely loved it. It was a lot of fun noticing some of these actors -- there were a few I recognized but couldn't place where I knew them from. Now I know.

    1. Thanks man, glad you dig it! Movie rocked ass, didn't it? QT just really knows his stuff. I loved all of these actors randomly popping up throughout. Such a huge, great cast.

  7. Another absolutely brilliant post - I had no idea half of these people were in the movie. BTW something was off with Tamblyn's scenes right? She was just in one, when she sees them through the window, it seems like she was supposed to have more screen time but her scenes were cut.

    1. Thanks! Yeah, I definitely noticed that something was off with her role as well. Kinda weird. And I definitely didn't spot all of these people either, but it's so cool that they were there.

  8. If Christoph Waltz isn't up for an academy award this year for his portrayal as King as is Foxx for Django then it's a shame. But I wonder why Zoe Bell showed up in the film the way she did. I recognized her right away, and I kept thinking she was going to make a spectacular stunt soaked entrance into the following scenes for the rest of the film. But no, I was disappointed but it makes we wonder if she may have a more prominent role in a following series.

    1. I definitely don't think Foxx will be nominated (even though he should be), and Waltz... ah, I dunno, it's close for sure. We'll know tomorrow!

      You're right, it would've been cool to watch Zoe Bell kick some quick ass, but I still think it's cool that she popped up regardless.

  9. N'oubliez vous pas West Side Story en tant que meilleur rôle de Russ Tamblyn ?

  10. I would love to have seen Aussie actor John Jarratt in your list. His role was more or less a cameo but he's a QT favourite and his work in Work Creek ranks him up with the rest of them IMHO.

    1. How weird, I really thought I included Jarratt here. I loved him in Wolf Creek!

  11. No worries! I figured you would have considered including him but ran out of time/space/energy. He got more screen time than both Tamblyns after all :D

    1. Ha, no doubt! Amber Tamblyn is barely in the flick, I agree. And Jarratt was so solid as the The LeQuint Dickey Mining Co. Employee.

  12. I love this post. Honestly, I didn't even know Ranger McGraw and Esteban Vihaio were one and the same. Thanks for that!

    Thanks also for appreciating She Hate Me. Honestly, I think it is one of Spike's lesser efforts, but still a pretty good flick.

    1. Love finding someone who appreciates She Hate Me. It's far from perfect, but I kinda dig it.

      Thanks so much for reading, glad you liked the post!