Will Smith Emerges as Front-Runner for Lead Role in Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained’

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I have not yet read the script for Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained and I’m not sure I want to though it is loaded on the iPad and might make for good reading in-between the pages of “Game of Thrones” while I am in Cannes.

However, whether or not I read the script won’t prevent me from getting excited for it and reporting on nearly every minutia of casting news as if it were a Twilight film, but today’s bit of news is a bit more than just a whisper as The Hollywood Reporter is saying Will Smith has emerged as the front-runner to play the film’s title character.

The film is described as a spaghetti Western centering on Django, a freed slave who seeks to reunite with his slave wife, a journey which will see him team up with a German bounty hunter to take down Monsieur Calvin Candie, an evil plantation owner. Smith would play Django and it has already been reported Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds) is likely to play the German bounty hunter. The Hollywood Reporter’s Borys Kit also adds that frequent Tarantino actor, Samuel L. Jackson is also circling a role.

Not having read the script I’m not sure how this will sit with those that have, but look at the casting wish list put together by The Playlist I don’t see Smith’s name anywhere in sight. “The Wire” star Micheal K. Williams was their first choice and they mentioned names such as Chris Tucker, Jim Brown and Michael Jai White among others.

Should Jackson land the role set aside for him, he would play Stephen, the house slave to Calvin Candie. Stephen is an expert manipulator and will face off with Django. As for that Calvin Candie role, The Playlist offered names including Josh Brolin as their first choice along with Harvey Keitel, Robert De Niro, Kurt Russell and Jeff Bridges. They also mentioned Jackson for the role of Stephen along with Richard Roundtree (Shaft). In fact, if you’re interested in checking The Playlist’s complete character breakdown, they give an exhaustive blow-by-blow right here.

As far as what’s on the horizon for Smith, he has Men in Black III, which I believe has finally finished shooting and will hit theaters on May 25, 2012. His only other film is One Thousand A.E for director M. Night Shyamalan, which is a film set one thousand years after Earth has been abandoned. Smith will star in the film opposite his own son Jaden as a father and son return to the now frightening planet after their spaceship crashes.

If I’m not mistaken One Thousand A.E isn’t exactly ready to go yet and Smith could probably fit in Django Unchained as Tarantino is aiming for a fall shoot in the South, possibly in Louisiana, but the exact locale has not been determined.