Kurt Russell and Sacha Baron Cohen Exit Quentin Tarantino’s DJANGO UNCHAINED [Updated]

     May 9, 2012

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Director Quentin Tarantino must have written a doozie of a role for a certain Django Unchained character; not only has Kevin Costner left the picture, but now Kurt Russell has exited as well.  Both veterans were slated to play the role of Ace Woody, a villainous character who trains slaves to fight each other for public amusement.  Granted, the role isn’t feel-good like Man of Steel’s Pa Kent or Miracle’s Herb Brooks, but it’s a Tarantino flick; no one gets out unscathed.  Costner had previously cited scheduling difficulties for his departure from Django Unchained, but Russell’s camp has yet to provide a reason.  Slightly concerning is the fact that with a December 25th release date, there hasn’t been a replacement announced just yet. 

Sacha Baron Cohen also let slip that his planned cameo won’t happen due to a scheduling conflict.  The rest of the Django Unchained cast, however, needs little support, boasting Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson, M.C. Gainey, Garrett Dillahunt, Dennis Christopher, Gerald McRaney, Laura Cayouette, Don Johnson, and Tom Savini. Hit the jump for more. [Update: We’ve added new information regarding Russell’s role]

We have word via Variety reporter Jeff Sneider’s Twitter account, that Russell has reportedly left Django Unchained.  We will update with more news as it becomes available.  Baron Cohen himself broke the news on The Howard Stern Show (via HitFix), saying that:

“That was going to be a cameo, but I had to drop out because of [The Dictator’s] press tour.”

Baron Cohen’s role was to be that of Scotty Harmony, a gambler who buys Django’s wife, Broomhilda, as a companion.  Check back for more updates as the casting situation sorts itself out.  [Update:  Beaks over at AICN says Russell’s role “has essentially been absorbed by Walton Goggins, who plays the equally nasty Billy Crash.]

Here’s the synopsis for Django Unchained:

django-unchained-movie-image-christoph-waltz-jamie-foxxSet in the South two years before the Civil War, “Django Unchained” stars Academy Award®-winner Jamie Foxx as Django, a slave whose brutal history with his former owners lands him face-to-face with German-born bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Academy Award®-winner Christoph Waltz). Schultz is on the trail of the murderous Brittle brothers, and only Django can lead him to his bounty. The unorthodox Schultz acquires Django with a promise to free him upon the capture of the Brittles – dead or alive.

Success leads Schultz to free Django, though the two men choose not to go their separate ways. Instead, Schultz seeks out the South’s most wanted criminals with Django by his side. Honing vital hunting skills, Django remains focused on one goal: finding and rescuing Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), the wife he lost to the slave trade long ago.

django-unchained-movie-image-leonardo-dicaprioDjango and Schultz’s search ultimately leads them to Calvin Candie (Academy Award®-nominee Leonardo DiCaprio), the proprietor of “Candyland,” an infamous plantation where slaves are groomed by trainer Ace Woody (Kurt Russell) to battle each other for sport. Exploring the compound under false pretenses, Django and Schultz arouse the suspicion of Stephen (Academy Award®-nominee Samuel L. Jackson), Candie’s trusted house slave. Their moves are marked, and a treacherous organization closes in on them. If Django and Schultz are to escape with Broomhilda, they must choose between independence and solidarity, between sacrifice and survival…

Written and directed by Academy Award®-winner Quentin Tarantino, DJANGO UNCHAINED is produced by Stacey Sher, Pilar Savone and Reginald Hudlin. The executive producers are Harvey and Bob Weinstein, Michael Shamberg, Shannon McIntosh, and James Skotchdopole. DJANGO UNCHAINED will be released in the U.S. on December 25, 2012, and internationally by Sony Pictures Releasing International.

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