We have two interesting bits of casting news for you today. First up is the recent addition of Tom Savini (From Dusk ‘Till Dawn) to Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained. The visionary director’s latest picture features Jamie Foxx as the eponymous freed slave who sets out to rescue his wife from plantation boss, Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). Savini will play Ellis Brittle, one of three slave-owning outlaws responsible for the rape and branding of Django’s wife, Broomhilda.
Additionally, Damien Echols of the West Memphis Three is reportedly being offered a small role in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit. Echols is currently in New Zealand with Jackson, who, along with his partner Fran Walsh, has been a major financial backer to the investigation. Hit the jump for more on both projects.
News of Savini’s casting comes from the Coventry Telegraph (via The Playlist). Fans of Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez will remember Savini as “Sex Machine,” the biker with a machine-gun crotch in From Dusk ‘Till Dawn. He’s also starred in Rodriguez’s Planet Terror and Machete. Probably best known for his masterful use of special effects, most notably in Romero’s Living Dead film series, Savini still carries a cult following from his B-movie career. He will next star in Django Unchained alongside M. C. Gainey (Lost), who plays one of the other Brittle brothers.
In The Hobbit casting news, where reality plays stranger than fiction, Showbiz 411 reports that one member of the West Memphis Three may be granted a small role in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings prequel. The West Memphis Three are three men who, while teenagers in 1994, were tried and convicted of ritualistic murders of three Boy Scouts in 1993. One of the men, Damien Echols, was sentenced to death. Recently, forensic evidence has strengthened the assertion of the men that they were innocent of the crime. In light of this evidence, they are currently serving a suspended sentence after being in prison for more than 18 years. The third installment of the Paradise Lost documentary was recently shown at the Toronto International Film Festival, which you can read about here.
One would struggle to make the connection between this trial and the much-beloved Hobbit story if they didn’t know of Peter Jackson’s involvement. While the West Memphis Three had the backing of such advocates as Eddie Vedder, Johnny Depp and Natalie Portman, most of their efforts went to publicizing the case. When Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh got involved, they decided to focus their efforts and finances into forensic evidence gathering. Their continued support has forged a strong bond with Echols and his wife Lorri, so it wouldn’t come as a huge surprise to see that Jackson gives the man a small role. Echols will also release a memoir about his experiences through publisher Penguin in the fall of 2012.