'Django Unchained': Samuel L. Jackson on playing 'the most hateful negro in cinematic history'

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Psychopathic killer …? Here’s your trophy, Javier Bardem.

Sadistic cannibalism …? No problem, Anthony Hopkins.

Chatty Nazi …? You’re welcome, Christoph Waltz.

Oscar voters have a long history of recognizing actors who play unrepentant monsters, but Samuel L. Jackson’s twisted house slave Stephen in Django Unchained may test their fortitude for putting pure evil on their ballots.

Here’s what Jackson said to his Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown collaborator Quentin Tarantino after the filmmaker gave him the script for the bloody western: “You wrote this 15 years too late for me to be Django, but now you really want me to be the most hated negro in cinematic history?’

“He goes, ‘Well… sort of,'” Jackson recalls. “And I said, ‘Okay… let’s do it.’”

The film stars Jamie Foxx as a freed slave who joins forces with a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) to kill bad guys as they follow the trail to his long sold-off wife (Kerry Washington). The journey leads them to Candie Land, a particularly gruesome plantation where Leonardo DiCaprio plays Calvin Candie, a slave-owner who uses his human chattel to stage fight-to-the-death gladiatorial contests. Jackson co-stars as Candie’s mentor, the scowling house-slave Stephen — who is even more twisted and wicked than his petulant master.

Jackson talked to EW’s Prize Fighter about:

• why the house slave Stephen is like “the Dick Cheney of Candie Land.”

• wearing blackface make-up to create the look of the character.

• why Academy members shouldn’t feel guilty about voting for such a vile figure.


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