Why I Couldn’t Wake Up This Morning

I didn’t wake up early. I didn’t do anything I was supposed to do this morning. I let the alarm ring on and on until I smashed it. I didn’t bother with that snooze button. I think all publicists should have a schmooze button that I could push hard and they would shut the F*#& up. I didn’t go there, did I? I had Cheetos and Diet Sunkist for breakfast and didn’t feel like a champion. I didn’t win at Bingo last night. I didn’t cash that check I’ve been sitting on, damn. But at least I didn’t suck DJing at TOY last night, even though I think they thought I would. One lovely woman came up to the booth and told me "You’re killing it, they love you!" At my age I want beautiful women to lie to me. Well anyway, I played my rock and roll and it was a great party. There were beautiful people everywhere and everyone was dressed up and drinking and dancing. I’m going to come back and they don’t even have to pay me as long as they get beautiful tall things with perfectlocks and smiles to lie to me again. I didn’t want to leave but I didn’t want to disappoint elsewhere.

I didn’t go to Adam Ant’s concert this weekend. I had at least three good questions for him, but alas, they wouldn’t let me interview him, so I didn’t. I’ve interviewed some big stars and a guy on a comeback might have cooperated… but he didn’t. Geez, I interviewed Jamie Foxx last week and he’s almost as big a star as Mr. Ant, isn’t he? I didn’t go there…did I? They wouldn’t let my photog. Lela Edgar have access and I didn’t feel it. As far as I was concerned, Adam Ant is a photo op, period. I remember back in the day when he was the high-cheekboned wonder boy with smash hits and pirate costumes. He played some pier and came up the river in a pirate ship. What an entrance. But then he exited the good life, the music, the scene, and now he’s an aging pop star popping back up. Maybe I should have believed the hype or gone for nostalgic reasons, but I just didn’t. I don’t play any of his smash hits in my set. Maybe I should. I’m going to buy them on iTunes right after I return from the store with a new alarm clock. With that, I can tell what time it is while I consider what decade or era this is. I read the reviews of other Adam Ant shows in England and Florida and such and they were mixed, mostly discussing what he looked like and how he acted. I went to a dive bar, watched a game, and wondered who was on the Yankees when Adam last played. I could have looked it up on my very smartphone…but I didn’t.

I didn’t want to write today but they have given me this new button so I’m easy to find again and I didn’t want to disappoint. If I ever do, it’s perfectly OK for you to lie to me. I didn’t want to say no to a pitch to write about this charity event from Wall Street Rocks. It’s the 9th Annual Hedge Fund Roctoberfest this Thursday, October 11th from 7pm to 11pm at 583 Park Ave. It benefits ALTSO, A Leg To Stand On. That’s a children’s charity that supports children with limb disabilities. Special guest musician and Wall Street Rocks Ambassador David Hudson, who is Katy Perry’s brother, will perform live on stage at the benefit concert. These same Wall Street Rock folks are hosting a Wall Street Rocks Battle of The Bands Round 3 on Tuesday, October 30th at venerable Mercury Lounge, 6pm. Proceeds from this bash will benefit the Wounded Warrior Project and ReserveAid. The release states: "Wall Street Rocks is a non-profit organization comprised of members of the finance, technology, and entertainment communities that have banded together to honor and assist our nation’s war heroes."

‘White House Down’ Trailer: Let’s Keep Blowin’ Up the White House!

Roland Emmerich, director of such brilliant films such as Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, and Godzilla, presumably does not want to blow up the White House. After all, the whole point of his apparent obsession with blowing up the White House is that America gets together, following the blowing-up of the White House, to blow up whoever blew up the White House, because whoever would do such a terrible thing (blowing up the White House) must be punished. At the same time, Roland Emmerich really loves blowing up the White House. And pretty much everything else. Nothing is too sacred to blow up! Anyway, for those of us who didn’t get enough explosions in the recent blown-up-White-House epic Olympus Has Fallen, here’s the trailer for White House Down, in which President Jamie Foxx (sure) is saved by Channing Tatum (why not). No aliens this time, unfortunately.

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Someone Decided ‘Horrible Bosses 2’ Needed To Happen

Fresh from learning that The Hangover 3 is on its way, castmembers are confirming we can also expect Horrible Bosses 2. God only knows why, though, considering Horrible Bosses lived up to its name of being horrible. 

The Hollywood Reporter reports that Charlie Day from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Jason Sudeikis from Saturday Night Live, and Jason Bateman from Arrested Development have all been recruited for Horrible Bosses 2 and final details for Jamie Foxx, who played murder consultant Motherfucker Jones, are still being worked out.

The original movie was so forgettable that I didn’t remember which bosses from the original died in the end. THR explains that Colin Farrel’s character died, while Aniston’s and Kevin Spacey’s lived. So, cameos? Please no. Horrible Bosses might have been the most embarassing movie Jennifer Aniston ever made. And she was in Along Came Polly

Email me at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter.

Jamie Foxx On The N-Word In ‘Django Unchained’

Whoever complained to Jamie Foxx about the n-word in Django Unchained sounds like a really annoying person.

The actor is quoted in the Chicago Sun-Times about the use of the slur in Quentin Tarantino’s newest film:

As a kid growing up in the South, I got called the n-word all the time. When I was a kid, it was ‘n’ this and ‘n’ that.’ That’s the way it was. That’s the way it is. We say that word in the movie and people say, ‘Well, I had a problem with that word.’ I want to shout, ‘You should have a problem with that word. You’re supposed to let it affect you. That’s why it’s in the movie.’ Telling our story is the way to understand where we came from and where we’ve come to as people. When you’re walking around with your Gucci and in your daily rush, you see a movie like this and should stop and let it bother you."

Foxx touches on something important here, which is the particular strain of annoying person who argues that art should not depict history accurately and should instead sanitize racism with a more modern veneer. You can usually find these people complaining why there were barely on black people on the cast of Mad Men for the first couple seasons.  (Which, by the way, Matt Weiner explains here.) 

Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter.

Quentin Tarantino and His Cast Rewrite History With ‘Django Unchained’

“The way I write, my dialogue, I always kind of fancy it as poetry and they’re the ones that make it poetry when they say it,” says iconic director Quentin Tarantino about his affinity for pulling from his pool of talented and idiosyncratic actors. The follow up to his 2009 Nazi-hunting epic Inglorious Basterds, Tarantino again rewrites history with the much-anticipated Django Unchained. The cinematically daring film tells the tale of a slave named Django and his quest to free himself and rescue his wife, with the aid of German bounty hunter and the takedown of sociopathic slave owner, Calvin Candie.

As his pictures are wont to be, Django is a grand undertaking of a film—with a script that’s both gut-wrenchingly brutal and highly entertaining, all set in the Deep South, featuring an incredible cast of actors that all embody their characters with devotion and panache. This past Sunday, I had the joy of sitting down to watch Tarantino, joined by the cast of his new heroic odyssey-meets spaghetti Western-meets monumental love story for press conference on the film; the result: a fantastic conversation on the nature of portraying slavery on film, undertaking such intense roles, and telling this story of sacred ground.

Slavery as a film subject:
Quentin Tarantino—I always wanted to do a film that deals with the horrific past of slavery, but the way I wanted to deal with it was, as opposed to doing a straight historical movie, I thought it would be better if it was wrapped up in genre. It seems to me, so many westerns that took place actually during slavery times have just bent over backwards to avoid it—as is America’s way, which is interesting because most other countries have been forced to deal with the atrocities that they’ve committed and the world has made them deal with them. But it’s kind of everybody’s fault here in America—white, black—nobody wants to stare at it. And I think there are different types of slave narratives that could have existed in the 245 years during this time; there’s a zillion stories: dramatic adventurous, heartbreaking triumphant stories that could be told. Living in a world now where people say, there are no new stories, there’s a whole bunch of them and they’re all American stories that could be told. So I wanted to be one of the first ones out of the gate.

First impressions when reading the script and being asked to play slaves:
Jamie Foxx—I actually saw that the movie was going forward and someone else was playing Django. I thought, wow, here’s another project I haven’t heard about. My acting hustle was: I don’t care what it is, it’s Quentin Tarantino, and all these people. I feel that the people here can tackle absolutely any subject matter as far as artistic ability. And reading the script, well I’m from Texas, so being from the south, there’s a racial component. So when I read the script, I didn’t knee-jerk to the word "nigger" like someone from maybe New York or LA would because that was something I experienced. But what I did gravitate towards was the love story between Django and Broomhilda. We never get a chance to see the slave fight back and do for himself. 
Kerry Washington—I think a lot of times people in the past may have felt nervous about playing a slave because so many of the narratives told in film and television about slavery are about powerlessness and this is not a film about that. This is a film about a black man who finds his freedom and rescues his wife—he is an agent of his own power, he’s a liberator, he’s a hero. And so there’s nothing shameful about that; it’s really inspiring and hopeful. I was very moved by the love story, especially at a time in our history when black people were not allowed to fall in love and get married because marriage, that kind of connection, got in the way of the selling of human beings. So to have a story between a husband and a wife at a time when black people were not allowed to be husband and wife, was not only educational but again, hopeful. We’ve seen this love story a million times about star-crossed lovers—its just that they don’t come from two different Italian families like Romeo and Juliet, the thing that stands in the way of them being with each other is the institution of slavery. So Django is out to get his woman. I said to Quentin in our first meeting that I want to do this movie for my father because my father grew up in a world where there were no black super heroes and that’s what this movie is.

Jackson on the psychology of his character, Stephen:
Samuel L. Jackson—When Quentin told me about the part of Stephen, I complained about being fifteen years too old to play Django. And when I read the script I called him back and said, “So you want me to be the most despicable negro in cinematic history?” And we both kind of laughed together and said, “Yeah, let’s get on that.” And not only was that a great artistic opportunity to create something that was iconic, but to take something that people know as Uncle Tom and turn it on it’s head in a powerful way. It also gave me the opportunity to do really nasty shit to the person who got the role that I thought I should have—and it was written beautifully that way so I could do that. Stephen is the freest slave in the history of cinema; he has all the powers of the master and is the master during the times that Calvin is off mandingo fighting. Everybody knows him and fears him. We referred to him as the Basil Rathbone of the Antebellum South. But I wanted to play him honestly and wanted everybody to understand that when Django shows up, that’s a negro we’ve never seen.

DiCaprio on being the biggest villain in the film and why he wanted to take on that role:
Leonardo DiCaprio—Well, obviously Mr. Tarantino here was a major factor. There was a sort of buzz about this script for a while, people were talking about the new Tarantino film. And the fact that he tackled this subject matter, like he did with Inglorious Basterds and recreated his own history and something as hardcore as slavery and combined it with the genre of having it be this crazy spaghetti western feel to it with this lead character that obliterates the cankerous rotting south, is completely exciting. He wrote this incredible character and as soon as I read it, I was completely excited. This man, as Quentin put it, he represented everything that was wrong with the South at the time—like a young Louis XIV, sort of a prince that wanted to hold onto his position of privilege at all costs. Even though he was integrated his whole life with black people, brought up by a black man, lived with him his entire life, he had to find a moral justification to treat people this way. And like, the fact that he’s a francophile but he doesn’t speak French, he’s just a walking contradiction. He was brought up by black people and yet he had to regard them as not human. There was absolutely nothing about this man that I could identify with. I hated him and it was one of the most narcissistic, self-indulgent, racist, horrible characters I’ve ever read my entire life. But I had to do it! It was too good a character in that sense. This man writes just incredible characters.

On watching DiCaprio fully immersed in his character:
JF—We were doing the dinner table scene and that whole day people were coming up from the offices, like, “you gotta see Leo do this scene.” He and Sam were just going to work. But what happened was, the shot glass slid over underneath what he was slamming his hand down against and in one take he slammed his hand down and the shot glass goes right through his hand. And now blood is shooting out his hand, and I’m thinking, does everybody else see this? And he just keeps going. But what was amazing was that he was so into his character that when they finally said “cut” he was still this guy. To be honest, I think they almost gave him a standing ovation at that time. So it was amazing to see that and the process from my end of Sam and Leo making it real. 

On reuniting with Tarantino:
Christoph Waltz—There was no reunification, there was no working again; that was just another mushroom of the fungus that was grown subcutaneously. 
QT—I had the same problem with Sam for over a decade. It’s hard not to write for these guys. They say my dialogue so well and just the way I write, my dialogue, I always kind of fancy it as poetry and they’re the ones that make it poetry when they say it. They come out of my pen. It’s just, I have to, I can’t shut it off. I’ve been wanting to do this story for a long time. They was never some German dentist bounty hunter in the story! And next thing I know, I sat down and wrote that opening scene and he just flew right out of the pen.
Don Johnson—As Quentin told me, “You sing in my key.” I looked at Big Daddy as a character who as everybody has mentioned, this was something that was going to go on forever until these two mother fuckers showed up. They messed up everything. But man, it was a joy to work with him. 
SLJ: I remember the first day I got there, I went looking for Quentin, and the slaves were in the field. I was walking down that road through a cotton field and I didn’t realize until I got in the middle of the field that all these extras were out there in their slave gear and they were picking cotton and white dudes were on horses with shot guns. I looked back and Don was on the porch in the big house and I was like, “Oh shit. We’re doing this.” It was almost like a Twilight Zone episode or something. It was crazy. Everything started to help us do this movie.
KW—We were shooting on an actual slave plantation called Evergreen Plantation, so that leant itself to all of us kind of disappearing into the story because you felt like you were making the film on sacred ground. You felt like you were reenacting this behavior where these crimes against humanity were actually committed, so it started to infiltrate everybody’s acting and behavior and choices and relationships.
SLJ—Like when you Kerry got whipped, even the bugs stopped making noise and the birds stopped singing it was kind of like, oh shit is this back?
DJ—My dresser found out that her ancestors were buried in the cemetery on the plantation. That was was a serious day when she came to work and told me that.
KW: And they were German!

Jonah Hill on his role as Bag Head #2:
Jonah Hill—Yeah, I don’t know. I got into this business to work with great filmmakers, so I don’t care if Quentin wants me to be an extra in one of his movies. I don’t even know what the fuck I’m doing up here with these guys. I worked for like two days on the film. It’s kind of an ego stroke that you even want me here. But I think it was the weekend Moneyball had come out and it was like I met with Quentin and he asked me and I was all for it. I was just so excited to do it.

Tarantino on writing the script:
QT—I write these huge scripts that are like novels. They’re not blue prints for a movie, they’re novels. If I had to do this whole thing all over again, I actually would have just published this as a novel and then done an adaptation of that after the fact. 

Tarantino and cast on external sources of inspiration:
QT—I think all of these actors can tell you the feeling they have the first time they walk into my office and they see all the 60s western posters up and the blacksploitation posters up and all this viscera that doesn’t exist anymore in movie posters. Now everything just looks like Vanity Fair photo shoot, every single goddamn movie.  The idea of drawn posters doesn’t happen anymore, and those were the posters! Those were really cool. But that style of viscera— whether it be a spaghetti western album covers, the blacksploitation album covers, the posters—I’m kind of trying to get at that. When my stuff pops off in the big way that it does or the imagery that I’m trying to evoke—like the costumes we employ in the film that always have a bit of a comic book panache—I’m trying to get those kinds of illustrations in life, in my flicks. 
CW—Source is a contradiction in terms and I can only speak for myself, but the source is the script and the script has a source.
DJ—That periods of time is one of my favorite in history because it’s full of deceit and rich in human character or lack there of. So I’ve read a lot on it and there’s a lot of outside material. For me, I like to start with outside information, research, and just start layering it into the ethics of the time, the social graces of the time—did they have indoor toilets? No. How were manners created? So I start from the outside and then slowly start to bring it all inside and emotional. Quentin’s the source and then the character work, for me, I like to know what it’s like on that day, in that time, with that energy running around.

Leo on his career as an actor and his experience working on the film:
LD—I love acting, it’s what I’ve always wanted to do my entire life and I hope to continue this for a long time to come. It’s the greatest job in the world, truly is. We’re all lucky bastards up here, the fact that we get to do what we love for a living every single day. What was great about doing this role was the sense of community and the support mechanism I had every single day. This was my first attempt at playing a character that I had this much distain and this much hatred for. It was an incredibly uncomfortable environment to walk into. I’ve seen racism in my surrounds and in my life growing up but to the degree that I had to treat other people in this film was incredibly disturbing. I think it was disturbing for actors on both ends of the spectrum. Like we were talking about before, one of the pivotal moments for me with this character and going to the places I had to go to, was this initial read through when I brought up the point where like, do we need to go this far at times, do we need to push it this far, does it have to be this violent, do I need to be this atrocious to other human beings? And Sam and Jamie both said, look man if you sugar coat this people are going to resent the hell out of you, you gotta push this guy to the utter extreme because this is not only historically accurate but it went even further than that and by holding the character back you’re going to do an injustice to the film and people are going to feel like you’re not telling the truth

And honestly, that was the thing that sort of ignited me into going the way I do with the character, and once I did do even more research and once I started to watch the documentaries about the sugar plantations, I saw we were just scratching the surface of what happened in our country. It’s a sore subject matter and it’s a film subject that should be looked at more often and not shied away from. I commend Quentin for making a film that combines so many different genres and as daring as it is to actually make the subject matter entertaining for an audience. It’s a daring concept. At the core of it was to have a group of actors that were all mutually there for one another to support and drive each other further.
KW—I felt like we relied on each other because we’d be in these awful places and Quentin would call cut and we’d all be like, “Everybody okay? You okay? You hurt? Okay, let’s do it again.”
JF—Especially Kerry. You took a beating.
QT—For two days straight. There’s the real way to do it and that’s the Kerry way and anything else is bullshit as far as Kerry’s concerned. And I was like man, she’s the real deal. 

Tarantino on the difference between writing the script and shooting it:
QT—It’s one thing to write: Exterior—Greenville, 100 slaves walk through this deep shit mud in chains wearing masks and metal collars, this whole town that’s built over like what’s almost a Black Auschwitz. It’s one thing to write that, it’s another thing to get 100 black folks, put them in chains and march through the mud. And same thing about the cotton and putting an army of black folks in the sun. I started to question: could I do it? I don’t think I’ve ever thought that about anything when it came to my work before. I started thinking, can I be the reason why that’s even happening? And I’d actually came up with an idea of maybe shooting just those sequences alone in like the West Indies or Brazil where they have their own issues of slavery, but because this is an American story there would be a once removed quality of it. My problem was having Americans do that. So I was trying to escape it; how can I do it but get around it so I don’t have to deal with the pain? And I went out to dinner with Sidney Poitier and I just finished the script—he’s kind of like a father figure to me—and I was explaining my little hair-brained scheme of escaping and he listened to me and basically told me I had to man up. He goes, “Quentin, for whatever reason, you were born to tell this story and you need to not be afraid of your own movie. You can’t tell this story if you’re afraid of your own movie. You just need to do it. Everybody knows what time it is, we’re all professionals everyone gets it, just treat them with love and respect and treat them like actors not atmosphere; let them know why they’re there, what they’re doing, and what we’re trying to get across and it will all be good.”
KW—One of the background actors, who was a pastor, one day kind of paused everybody and said, “We have to remember that we are the answer to these people’s prayers. The people who did this work dreamt of a day where you could not be property but own property, where you could read and vote and get married and have a job and get compensated.” And it really, on that sacred ground, forced everybody to shift and man up and own how blessed we are that we get to be here and tell this story and not feel victimized by it, but know that it’s a story of a hero and that’s a profound opportunity. 

Tarantino on telling a linear narrative and editing:
QT—It was a conscious decision from page one not to do my normal narrative tricks. This had to be Django’s journey from beginning to end, it had to be an odyssey. You need to see Django start his journey and complete it in one scenario. As far as the film taking shape in editing, there’s so many different emotions in this movie—there’s the exciting western adventure, there’s the gallows humor like comedy, and there’s the pain of the story, there’s the catharsis, there’s the suspense, and hopefully at the end there’s the cheering. If the audiences aren’t cheering at the end, then I haven’t quite done my job. So balancing all those different emotions so I got that cheer at the end was the biggest issue of editing.

Frankly, when it came to the pain, I could have gone forward; I have more of a tolerance. Part of it was I wanted to show how bad it was, but I also don’t want to traumatize the audience so bad that they can’t enjoy the movie and be where I need them to be in the last reel. The whole hope was that if you leave your house and go to a movie theater and pay a ticket to sit with a bunch of strangers to watch this movie, you’re going to have ultimately by the end of it, a great time at the movies. And I think so far, so good.
SLJ—Quentin always writes movies he wants to see. We watch a lot of the same kind of movies and he generally writes a role in there that I’m going to do because I want to see myself in that kind of movie and I think I represent a lot of movie goers and he represents a lot of fans.
KW: The impetus for all the adventure and action and all of it is love and it’s a complete universal theme, this idea. Everybody wants to be loved so badly that they’re prince would slay the dragon.
SLJ—Oh, that’s some girly shit, like some old west rom com bullet ballet. 

 

Photo by Getty Images for The Weinstein Company

Jamie Foxx Has Been Working On His Madea Impersonation

I had thought Saturday Night Live was done for the season, but oops, Jamie Foxx hosted last night. And the Madea impersonation came out.

Foxx played Tyler Perry as two different roles — one as Madea, the sassy black lady parody who has spawned a hundred race studies senior theses, the other as Alex Cross fom the movie of the same name.

Madea is sort of meh as far as humor goes, but it’s incredible to watch the Jekll-and-Hyde performance. yIn case you needed a reminder that Jamie Foxx is an extremely talented impersonator, here he is from last night’s SNL skit.

Watch your ass, Jay Pharoah. 

Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter.

‘Django, Unchained’: Now With 100% More Rick Ross!

With the holidays comes the time-honored end-of-the-year influx of crazy-hyped movies, and while many will choose to spend their Christmas Day ugly-crying for three hours to Les Misérables (no judgment!), there are other options. One of these is Django Unchained, the all-star Sergio Corbucci-inspired Spaghetti-Western-meets-Deep-South feature from Quentin Tarantino. Today the final trailer was released for the film, which stars Jamie Foxx as the title character, a former slave who joins forces with a bounty hunter (Tarantino favorite Christoph Waltz) to take out a gang and rescue his wife (Kerry Washington) from her brutal master, played by Leonardo DiCaprio with a sinister-looking facial hair arrangement. 

Not only does the new trailer give us a lot more gunfire and whole lot more of Leo DiCaprio looking particularly sinister (and drinking out of a coconut, which I did not know was fashionable in the early-to-mid 19th century) and a new track from rapper Rick Ross, "100 Black Coffins," from which we get much of the refrain (which is, as one might suggest, "I need 100 black coffins."). The rest of the Django Unchained soundtrack includes some gems new and old, including selections from Ennio Morricone, Jim Croce, James Brown, and 2Pac, and the catchy theme tune from Luis Bacalov and Rocky Roberts. Watch. 

Jamie Foxx On His Latest Directing Project With Ron Howard and Working With Quentin Tarantino

Project Imaginat10n caught my imagination when a photographer caught a handcuffed NYC couple kissing just before they were separated and led to jail. He was the graffiti artist and she was the lookout. The shot seen around the world had a romantic True Romance feel to it. This image was disqualified because the photographer couldn’t get a release, but their fifteen minutes of fame created a lot of hype for this Canon project. Canon has gathered Jamie Foxx, Eva Longoria, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, Marchesa designer Georgina Chapman, and LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy to direct ten-minute films based on photographs which inspire them. These photographs must be submitted by today. Two-time Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard will be on hand to guide this crew through the process. 

The new Quentin Tarantino project, Django Unchained, is a can’t-wait-to-see flick starring Jamie Foxx. Jamie gave me fifteen minutes of his famously valuable time to discuss.

How did you end up doing this project with Ron Howard?
I saw this campaign that Ron Howard was a part of with Canon, when they had the commercial, and I said, “Wow, that seems so interesting, that seems like such a great thing to be a part of.” And then when Canon opened it up and I became one of the guys who was actually going to get the opportunity to direct and look at these pictures and bring to life a good story, I thought, man, this is great. So Ron Howard and I had a relationship; we were sitting next to each other during the inauguration, when President Obama was becoming president, and then Ron eventually went on to be in the video “Blame It on the Alcohol” with me. It was cool to reconnect with him, only this time, under his tutelage, I’ll be able to get to do what I’ve wanted to do for a long time, which is direct my own projects and see if I can become a director that can be cinematic.

That brings me to my next question. I saw that back in 2000, you directed a couple of your own television shows and you did something in 2011: a TV movie.  You’ve done comedy, won an Academy Award, a Grammy, and now you are directing again. Where do you want to go with that?
I’ll tell you what: with the directing, what I’ve always told my people, I said, I’m telling you, from all of the exposure that I’ve had with these great directors – Oliver Stone, Michael Mann, Antoine Fuqua, Sam Mendes, and now Quentin Tarantino – I just think it’s a natural progression, and I feel like I want to be able to take another journey into a world that I feel I’ve learned from the best. I can’t wait to get the Canon opportunity; the cameras that they have really make it handy for what you want to accomplish and what you want to have your film look like in so many different ways and so many different angles and looks and feels. So, I can’t wait. I don’t want my short film to be just, “Okay, I finished.” I want it to be something that people will marvel at and say, “Wow, did you see that?” I want it to be something that once people see it, hopefully, you know… shoot man, I really want to go at it.

Do you think you have a leg up on your competition or your fellow directors here? You have Eva Longoria who has some movie and television experience; you have fashion designer Georgina Chapman; Biz Stone the Twitter co-founder; and you’ve got James Murphy LCD Soundsystem. Is there a slight competitiveness here?
You never know. These guys are all fantastic and they’re all visual and they have insight and that’s all it is when it comes to being a director; it’s what your vision is. I feel like I have the most pressure since I have worked with all these great directors and great projects, so I need to really make sure that I come through.

So I read that the themes are: character, mood, backstory, relationship, goal, obstacle, the unknown, and of course the last one: discovery. Do you have any preconceived notion on a theme, or are you just going to let the photos speak and react?
I would email Quentin Tarantino periodically and say, “I hope your movie is talking to you like your friend,” so I want to be able to look at these pictures and have these pictures speak to me like a friend, and once I do that, then I’ll know exactly what it is I want to shoot and what I want to write about and the story I want to be told. I don’t want to jump the gun and say, you know, it’s going to be this, it’s going to be this. I just want to really get the chance to soak all of the pictures in and go from there.

One of the things that got the public’s attention and brought people to this project was that couple that got caught holding hands on their way to jail, which was an incredibly romantic moment or something out of the end of a Tarantino-written film, like True Romance. It captivated everybody’s mind. How did you feel about that moment? Did that picture say something to you?
The thing about me is that I can really see a picture with so many different stories that people could tell. There’s so many different interpretations, so I want to see what I would come up with. I would take that certain picture and look at it and make it something different, so that’s what’s exciting about this process; it’s the fact that all of these pictures will speak to us in different ways and, like I said, I can’t wait to see what the pictures say to me.

You mentioned working with Quentin; I’ve seen a lot of people like Brad Pitt and Christian Slater talk about working with him… tell me something about Quentin that maybe we don’t know.
Remember the movie Amadeus about Mozart? I come from a musical background, and what’s great about Mozart is that he was able to write music as if he was writing his name. Quentin Tarantino is able to grab shots as if he is writing his name. He doesn’t make a big deal out of this, but I’m gonna make a big deal out of it. When we were shooting Django Unchained, Tarantino wasn’t satisfied with his endings, so he rewrote the ending in his trailer and at his house, and then he came back to the set, with it handwritten, and said, “Here’s our ending.” And the ending was better than the ending that was already in the movie. So to me, that separates him from anybody that I’ve seen, because the lines that he writes are absolutely classic, and to be able to take that and put the camera on it and then make it cinematic, is just amazing to me. And then his process, like a kid, playing music between scenes, having fun—for every hundred rolls of film we did, we took a shot of tequila or vodka or whatever it was.  He just made it fun, man. He told me, “When you leave this production, you will long to have these types of memories again.” He keeps it fun, so he’s definitely a gem.

You mentioned Mozart writing like he writes his name and Tarantino being able to move on-the-go and adjust and correct himself. How do you prepare as an actor? You didn’t become an actor early in your career, but you rose quickly. You blew me away with your performances in On Any Given Sunday and Ray. How do you prepare for a role? Do you act like you write your name?
Well, I’ll put it this way: I think you have to give it to a higher being—I call it God-given—that it’s something where it’s a sixth sense, you know? It’s something that you just feel. When it comes to acting, I just feel something. When it comes to creating, I just feel something. And that’s what it is. You can’t really put your finger on it. I’m always thankful, I’m always thankful that I am touched by whatever that is, that creative gene. It allows me to jump into different worlds—like music and movies—and really give those worlds respect. I can’t put my finger on it, but I have to maximize it. I know that I have to get into it and give all I can. When you look at my 10-minute film from this Canon project, I want to make you absolutely wowed by the performance from the actors and actresses, and the story that you see.

You talked about Ron Howard and Quentin, but what other directors, or any other kinds of creative people, have inspired you?
I’m inspired by Floyd Mayweather Jr.; I watch him and what he’s done in his career and how tough things have been, and am amazed at how he makes things happen with his charisma and acting. I’m inspired by Ray Lewis, a guy who’s played in the league almost 15, 16 years in football, and every time he speaks he’s so inspiring. LeBron James—a person who really, really wanted something, and set the wheels in motion that some people would be angry with him about, but he knows if he doesn’t do it in a certain way that he wouldn’t be able to get what he’s set out for. I’m inspired by President Obama, a person who is, even when it’s chaotic, still the coolest person in the room, and able to make a choice – even though it may not be the best political choice—but what I feel in my heart. I’m inspired by outside entities that fuel my ideas and stories in my art; that’s what I feel gives me the most feelings, when I use that type of energy that’s not in my field.

Check Out the Strikingly Minimal Poster for Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained’

There is a chain in the official poster for Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, his first new movie since 2009’s Inglourious Basterds. There may also be the guy named Django, the ex-slave on a revenge mission against his former master, though it isn’t quite clear from the silhouettes which one he’d be. The man on the right with the period appropriate hat? The dual pistol-wielding guy on the left? Many questions to be answered! 

Filled with can’t-miss actors like Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Kerry Washington and Sacha Baron Cohen, there probably won’t be a more anticipated Christmastime movie, unless another Alvin and the Chipmunks sequel gets made. Even though Joseph Gordon-Levitt recently dropped out of filming, it seems like everything else is going fine. For better or worse, this looks to be another inescapable Tarantino blood fest, so you’d better steel yourself for the eventual effusive outpouring of public adoration. There’s only eight months and a half months left before Django drops on Christmas morning.