When Leonardo DiCaprio's character Calvin Candie smashes the palm of his hand on the dinner table, the actor broke a glass under his hand and really began to bleed. DiCaprio ignored it, stayed in character, and continued with the scene, even going so far as to smear the blood onto the face of Kerry Washington. After the take, the room erupted in a standing ovation. This take was the one used in the film.
During the filming of one of the dinner scenes, Leonardo DiCaprio had to stop the scene because he was having "a difficult time" using so many racial slurs. Samuel L. Jackson then pulled him aside telling him, "Motherfucker, this is just another Tuesday for us."
After working on this film, composer Ennio Morricone said he would probably never again collaborate with Quentin Tarantino since he didn't like the way the writer/director "places music in his films without coherence" and "never giving enough time". Morricone and Tarantino had also worked together on three previous movies.
Leonardo DiCaprio, whose role marked the first time he played a villain since The Man in the Iron Mask (1998), was uncomfortable with how horrible and explicitly racist his character was. However, Quentin Tarantino convinced him to be as menacing as possible, saying that if he didn't take it all the way, people would hold it against him forever.
In an interview, Quentin Tarantino stated that originally the mandingo fight scene and the scene with the dogs were longer and more violent. He said he felt like he was going to "traumatize" the audience, so he cut both scenes down.
According to critic Alex Ross, the alliance between Django and Dr. Schultz is "not as absurd" as audiences might believe, because in the 1840s many German revolutionaries and progressives left Europe for the U.S. where they often became active in the anti-slavery movement.
Christoph Waltz turned down the role when first given the script. He felt it was too tailored to his persona. 'Quentin Tarantino' insisted and wouldn't take no for an answer. Waltz agreed under one condition: his character had to be pure, and never once act in negative or evil manner. Tarantino sent him a hand written letter that simply said "Of Course, Mein Herr!- Q" Waltz sent a telegram back "Mein Herr, Of Course!- CW"
Director Quentin Tarantino revealed at Comic-Con that Jamie Foxx and Kerry Washington's characters are meant to be the great-great-great-grandparents of the character John Shaft from the Shaft (1971) films. An overt reference to this connection can be found in Washington's character's full name: Broomhilda Von Schaft.
The quilt that is on the bed that Broomhilda is thrown onto is an Underground Railroad style. Myth has it that slaves would use quilts to communicate and the Underground Railroad style was saying to "pack up and go".
Christoph Waltz dislocated his pelvic bone while training for his part. He alluded to the injury backstage after winning the Golden Globe, stating, "Riding a horse wasn't much of a challenge. Falling off was." Waltz's injury necessitated that King Schultz's early scenes on horseback be accommodated by a horse-drawn wagon instead.
Jonah Hill was supposed to play a bigger role in this film. He was originally cast to portray a character named Scotty Harmony, the son of Southern slave buyers who would purchase Broomhilda to become his lover. The entire segment was cut.
Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays villain Calvin Candie in this film, was originally the first choice for the role of antagonist Hans Landa in Quentin Tarantino's previous film Inglourious Basterds (2009). However, Tarantino decided that a German-speaking actor should portray the character, and the part went to Christoph Waltz, who portrays Dr. King Schultz in this film, which marks Waltz's second film collaboration with Tarantino. DiCaprio can, however, speak some German.
The name "Django" is a Romani name meaning "I awake." It was very popular among musicians and jazz enthusiasts for having been the adopted name of Jean-Baptiste Reinhardt (1910-1953), a Romani-Belgian jazz guitarist known as Django Reinhardt.
The film did not receive a rating from the MPAA until over a week before it's wide domestic release. Nevertheless, Quentin Tarantino decided in the best interests of audiences to tone down the film's violence. According to Tarantino, "[the MPAA] actually gave an R rating to a rougher version than I ultimately ended up presenting to the public...I could handle a rougher version of the movie than what exists right now. I have more of a tolerance for it, but I kind of realized that when I watched that version of the movie with audiences, that I was traumatizing them too much. It's just that f**king simple. And I want people to enjoy the movie at the very end of it."
Dr. Schultz says he wants to re-name Eskimo Joe, the Mandingo fighter he tries to purchase, "Black Hercules." This was the real-life nickname of Ken Norton, the actor/boxer who starred in Mandingo (1975).
While it is known that there is a link between Dr. King Schultz and the grave of the mysterious "Paula Schultz" featured in Tarantino's Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004), not much is fully understood about the connection. However, fans have theorized that Dr. Schultz was related to this Paula Schultz character, possibly as in husband and wife at some point who were separated shortly before the doctor went to pursue his career as a bounty hunter. Other theories suggest that Paula Schultz could have been Dr. Schultz's estranged daughter or long-lost sister. Tarantino has not confirmed this, however.
Django's blue costume is based on the famous painting "The Blue Boy". This painting inspired F.W. Murnau's film Emerald of Death (1919) (Emerald of Death). Murnau is best known for creating the "Unchained" camera technique.
While Kevin Costner turned down the role of Ace Woody, this is not the first time he has rejected a role offered to him by Quentin Tarantino. The character of Bill in Tarantino's Kill Bill films was originally written with Costner in mind and eventually offered to him, but he refused. That role went to actor David Carradine, who died in 2009 and who this film is dedicated to.
Calvin explains that via the study of Phrenology, he is able to find the three dimples on Ben's skull, which represent submissiveness. Phrenology was an ill-fated phase of real Psychology when it was actually believed bumps on different skull locations represented different traits like creativity, athletic ability and so forth. It is considered quackery by modern medical standards.
Leonardo DiCaprio was injured twice, both during rehearsals. Once with a glass he smashed with his hand, the second time with a hammer that broke and hit him in the head. For filming, the hammer he handled was made of foam and the glass smashing was nothing more than a sound effect.
When Django and Dr. Schultz are in Daughtrey, Texas (near the beginning of the film), the saloon they are in is called "Minnesota Clay's Saloon". Minnesota Clay (1964) is the name of Western film directed by Sergio Corbucci, the same director of the original Django (1966).
First western to win the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay since Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), nearly 45 years earlier, and the first to win an Award for Acting (and in the same category) since Unforgiven (1992), 20 years earlier. The film, along with True Grit (2010) repeated a rare pattern where 20 years earlier, two westerns (the other being Dances with Wolves (1990)) were nominated for Best Picture within two years of each other.
Franco Nero, making his cameo in the film, is seen wearing white gloves. This may be a reference to his wounds in the original Django film. However, this should not be seen as him being the same character in both movies, as Django (1966) takes place in the 1870s and Django Unchained (2012) takes place before that, in the 1850s.
Although some viewers feel that Calvin Candie displays incestuous behavior to his sister Lara, it is not necessarily so. He is a Francophile and it is a tradition among the French to greet each other by kissing on the cheeks.
Sid Haig was a strong contender for the role of "Mr. Stonesipher", so much so that casting director Victoria Thomas informed Haig's agent, "It's a lock". Quentin Tarantino himself scheduled, and later canceled at the last minute, two auditions for Haig. Two months later the role quietly went to David Steen instead. Tarantino being known for his extremely dry humor, this "prank" is presumably rooted in Haig turning down the role of Marcellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction (1994) 17 years previously.
One of the members of the Smitty Bacall Gang was Gerald Nash. This name was also used as one of the police officers killed by Mickey and Mallory in Natural Born Killers (1994) (written by Tarantino). This is a trademark of Tarantino's: reusing names and relating characters among his scripts.
Russ Tamblyn, whose character in this movie is named "Son of a Gunfighter", starred in the 1965 movie Son of a Gunfighter (1965). Also, Tamblyn's real-life daughter Amber Tamblyn plays the character named "Daughter of a Son of a Gunfighter".
The scene with the Australian slave traders was originally written a little differently. Instead of two Aussies and the Southern hillbilly man (played by Michael Parks), according to the final draft of the script, there was supposed to be three Australians, and the characters had more dialogue.
Firearms used in the film: James Remar (who plays two characters) wields the same weapon as both, a muzzle-loading, double-barreled, sawed-off 12-gauge shotgun; Lil' Raj Brittle carries a .44-cal. Colt Dragoon, with which Django shoots him six times; Django wields a .36-cal. 1851 Colt Navy revolver; Dr. Schultz wields a .44-cal. 1858 New Army revolver; in the final shootout, Django wields both revolvers; Schultz also wields a Cobra Big Bore .38-cal. Derringer on a sleeve slide, and a .45-70 Sharps 1874 Cavalry Carbine; various characters wield a .44 Rimfire 1860 Henry Rifle; various villains wield 1856 .577 muzzle-loading Enfield Pattern cavalry carbines; Django briefly carries a .44-cal. Remington 1858 Cattleman's Carbine.
As appreciation for being cast, James Remar gave Quentin Tarantino a 35mm IB Technicolor print of Mandingo (1975). Quentin occasionally screens the print at his repertory theater in Los Angeles, The New Beverly Cinema.
In the beginning of the film where Dr. Schultz (Waltz) frees Django (Foxx), one of the slaveowners calls one of the slaves Blueberry. This is a reference to the comic Blueberry made by Jean "Moebius" Giraud and Jean-Michel Charlier. Blueberry takes place during American Old West, where the main character starts out as a racist, but after he is saved by an Afro-American, he becomes a gunman who fights against all kinds of discrimination.
Both Don Johnson and Rex Linn appear in the movie, and both were in television shows that took place in Miami where both were in law enforcement: Johnson in Miami Vice (1984) and Linn in CSI: Miami (2002).
The lead actor from Django (1966), the movie which inspired this one, has a cameo as the owner of the slave that fights against a slave owned by the character played by DiCaprio (the screenplay gives his character the name Amerigo Vassepi). After being asked to spell his name, Django explains, "The 'D' is silent". Nero replies, "I know".
A notable special effects and makeup artist in the industry that has worked with Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, respectively, on a number of titles. He plays the tracker in the fur coat who pulls the dogs off of d'Artagnan.
During the first dinner scene with Calvin, the camera moves around the table as he talks showing the different characters' faces and towards the end when Django is talking the Le Quint Dickey Mining Co. about the Smitty Bacall gang, the camera similarly rotates around them. Tarantino has used this effect in Reservoir Dogs (1992) and Death Proof (2007).
James Remar has two roles: one as Butch Pooch and other as Ace Speck. A situation is created where his first character (Speck) is shot and killed by Christoph Waltz (Dr. King Schultz). Thereafter, Remar's second character (Pooch), in turn, shoots and kills Dr. King Schultz. In effect, Waltz kills Remar and later Remar kills him back.
In the final draft of the script, Stephen was written to be a more brutal character; in the barn scene after Django was captured at Candie's mansion, he was supposed to torture Django by burning off his chest nipples with a hot poker. The dialogue from this scene, spoken by Samuel L. Jackson can be heard on the film's music soundtrack.
In the finished draft of the script, the character of Billy Crash was written to be much more brutal and sadistic. A scene of him raping and tormenting Broomhilda in his cabin was cut from the final film. His original death from Django was also much different. Instead of shooting Crash to death at the end, Django takes a large knife and throws it at his chest as he leaves his cabin after his assault on Broomhilda.
The biblical verse John Brittle is saying before he is killed by Django is a version of Genesis 9:2 "And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered." This particular verse refers to God giving all the beasts of the earth into man's hand: in the slave culture, black people were considered beasts, not fellow men.
Ultimately, Will Smith decided to pass on playing Django in the film due to him seeing the character as not being the lead. He told Entertainment Weekly, "Django wasn't the lead, so it was like, I need to be the lead. The other character was the lead! I was like, 'No, Quentin, please, I need to kill the bad guy!'... I thought it was brilliant. Just not for me."
The final showdown with Django and the hillbilly trackers was written to be entirely different. Mr. Stonesipher, the head of the trackers, was originally to be a stronger and more threatening villain to Django. There was a scene written in the final draft of the script with Django killing the trackers with an ax. He then faces Mr. Stonesipher and the two engage in hand-to-hand combat with Stonesipher nearly defeating Django but eventually losing.
After the initial explosion of Candyland plantation towards the films climax, the song "Trinity: Titoli" by Franco Micalizzi is heard playing during Django's exodus. An extra smaller explosion was added in post production while Jamie Foxx is walking away from the buildings burning remains to cover the segment of Micalizzi's song "Sleepy type guy" that was uttered to describe the main character of the song. This segment was an accurate description for the character of "Trinity" from the 1970 spaghetti western They Call Me Trinity (1970) which this song was written for. This phrase was used due to the character's introduction of sleeping and being towed across the desert in a makeshift bed tied behind his horse. However this quote did not match the character of Django, who is never seen to rest throughout Django Unchained (2012). Hence the cover up of this segment of the song, that would have caused some confusion.
Early in the film Christoph Waltz kills a town sheriff, and is about to be arrested by the local U.S. Marshal until he pulls out an arrest warrant for the man he has just killed. Later in the film, he points out Monsieur Candie's fondness for Alexandre Dumas père, whose novel "The Three Musketeers" features a similar discussion between d'Artagnan and Cardinal Richelieu, who was played by Waltz in The Three Musketeers (2011).
In the scene in which Samuel L. Jackson is describing what will happen to Django after he is shipped to the mining company, Jackson's character ends his monologue by saying "And that will be the story of you." Tarantino previously used this line in Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004).