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'Django Unchained' stars rolled up 'N-word shield' during filming

Quentin Tarantino’s latest movie, “Django Unchained,” about a slave-turned-bounty hunter, doesn’t shy away from violence and language, including 110 uses of the N-word –- something the cast had to come to grips with while filming. 

“These characters use the N-word because that’s what people said back then, and again if you don’t understand how ugly the time is, you don’t understand how bad--- [Django] is to get through this time,” Kerry Washington told Access Hollywood’s Michelle Beadle, referencing Jamie Foxx’s Django character.

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“There were days when hearing that N-word over and over again would start to get a little uncomfortable and Jaime and I had these imaginary shields… we’d roll up our n-word shield,” she explained.

Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays plantation owner Calvin Candie, uses the word most often, but had trouble going there, according to his co-stars.

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“I think that what Quentin wanted to do was really let you know how it really was [during this time] and you’re not supposed to feel good about it,” Foxx said.

Foxx said co-star Samuel L. Jackson helped motivate DiCaprio to immerse himself in the character and his language.

“When Leo goes, ‘Buddy, I’m having a tough time with these words’ and then… Samuel Jackson [told him] ‘It’s just another Tuesday for us, get over that.’ And I told Leo, if you don’t go there then we don’t have a story. So the next day he walked [and] he didn’t even speak to me,” the actor recalled.


Foxx added, “We knew we had to go to a bad place and when I talked to black people about the film and they say they were bothered by the N-word, I said, ‘It’s supposed to, it’s supposed to bother you. Those horrific things that happened to us, is supposed to bother you.’” 

Despite the film’s intensity, Washington stressed the film isn’t just a painful look at a horrific time in our history.

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“This film is the full ride… you will absolutely laugh, you will cry, you will be afraid, you will fall in love. You get the whole shebang,” she told Access.

“Django Unchained” opens in theaters on Dec. 25.

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