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Clever schemer Jamie Foxx convinced Idris Elba not to star in Django Unchained

Photo: Kevin Winter (Getty Images)

Everyone has heard stories about how cutthroat the entertainment industry is, but apparently even ostensible nice guys like Jamie Foxx aren’t above a little manipulating if it means landing a big role. During a Toronto International Film Festival panel with his Just Mercy co-star Michael B. Jordan (via IndieWire), Foxx revealed that he tried to talk Idris Elba out of starring in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained after he learned that his management team had failed to secure him a spot on the studio’s shortlist for potential stars. Foxx wanted the eponymous role of Django for himself, so when he bumped into Elba—who was the frontrunner—and the topic of Tarantino came up, Foxx told him there would be “some problems for everyone” if they saw his “beautiful Black ass riding up on a horse.” Basically, Foxx explained that he tried to convince Elba that was simply too handsome to be believable as the slave-turned-bounty hunter in the stylishly unstylish blue suit.

Elba didn’t end up getting the role in Django, with IndieWire noting that the official reason was Tarantino’s desire to go with an American actor for what is an American story, but there’s definitely a chance that Foxx’s little act of subterfuge planted a seed of doubt in Elba’s mind. Either way, once Tarantino met with Foxx and discovered that he was not only from Texas but owned his own horse, he cut the other frontrunners loose (IndieWire mentions Chris Tucker and Michael K. Williams) and gave Foxx the role of Django.

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These days, Idris Elba is playing one of the monsters in Cats, and Jamie Foxx is doing a number of things that aren’t that, so this clearly worked out in his favor.

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