Leonardo DiCaprio to try on black hat in 'Django Unchained'?

Leonardo-DiCaprio

Image Credit: Insidefoto/PR Photos

Any actor will tell you: It’s good to be bad. Playing bad is a hoot, and many actors, like Gary Oldman, built their career on portraying crazy-eyed villains capable of the most vile deeds. Superstar actors, on the other hand, can become handcuffed — if only temporarily — by a certain level of fame after audiences demand a certain heroic or darling character each and every time. Ask Will Smith or Julia Roberts or Clint Eastwood. So it’s admirable and refreshing to hear from Deadline that Leonardo DiCaprio is reportedly in talks to play the villain in Quentin Tarantino’s next film, Django Unchained, the story of an escaped American slave who seeks vengeance on his cruel master. (Both DiCaprio and Tarantino’s reps have yet to respond to EW’s request for comment.)

DiCaprio has flirted with the dark side before. In fact, Tarantino once considered him for the deliciously nefarious Nazi role in Inglourious Basterds eventually played by Christoph Waltz. Many of DiCaprio’s characters, like Catch Me If You Can‘s Frank Abagnale and Revolutionary Road‘s Frank Wheeler, are deeply flawed men, but he’s never played pure evil like Django‘s Calvin Candie, who reportedly runs his plantation like some antebellum Southern Thunderdome, with sexual slavery and sporting fights to the death.

There are simply only so many times an actor can save the world, knock out the champ, or win the girl before he or she gets trapped in a box. Breaking bad might be new to DiCaprio, but he wouldn’t be the first superstar to challenge his fans by tackling a loathsome character. (And I’m not talking about anti-heroes, like Michael Corleone or Travis Bickle. I’m talking about despicable miscreants.) Denzel Washington won an Oscar playing a crooked cop in Training Day. Harrison Ford’s murderous adulterer in What Lies Beneath was mostly frightening because it was our hero, Han Solo and Indiana Jones, doing the strangling. Ditto for Henry Fonda in Once Upon a Time in the West. His cold-blooded Frank isn’t nearly as scary if he’s played by the more conventionally-badass Jack Palance.

So I hope that DiCaprio is lured down the path of darkness — at least this once. Anyone who’s seen those wolfish eyes in Blood Diamond or his edgy genius in The Aviator knows that the potential for cruelty is there, and it’s all the more effective coming from boyish Jack Dawson, the king of the world.

Are you eager to see DiCaprio wear a black hat? What’s your favorite example of an established hero playing the heel?

Read more:
Clint Eastwood’s ‘J. Edgar’: CinemaCon premieres clips starring Leonardo DiCaprio
Quentin Tarantino: 20 Movies — and Posters — You’ve Got To See!
20 All-Time Vilest Villains in Pop Culture

Comments (27 total) Add your comment
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  • JDWurl

    Hanks in “Road to Perdition”. And yet, somehow he was still lovable.

    • Nay

      Love that you mention this. However, there’s still the deliberate kind side to his character. Still love him in that movie though.
      Not that I have any better examples, now that I’m thinking about it. Wait, that’s not true. Elijah Wood in Sin City. We don’t get to see many of his deeds first hand, but thanks to other characters’ descriptions, we still get a well painted picture of what a psychopath he is in that movie.
      That said, I’d love to see Leo play a bad guy, especially a Tarantino bad guy.

    • DTO

      I could not buy him as an evil dude in that movie because, basically, he was still a devoted father fighting guys who were even more evil. That was no Henry Fonda type of about-face at all.

      • Azaan

        i think dat kate is so great she is unbelivbal she if my fav actss go on leo go 4 her not bar refaali she is jst a modl nobody realy cares but u and winslt yh dats wot im talkn bout !!!! i love ur new movie holiday kate its well gd but not as gd as the titanic of corus but its well funny !!! the depart is well gd 2 love u both i realy cant wait 4 ur new movie it wil be brill coz u2 r in it i love da titanic and its will always be my fav of all time !!! u r GREAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Angela

      His character was immoral, but he really wasn’t the villain of the movie.

  • Jeremy

    James Cromwell in LA Confidential.

    • Brock

      Yes, totally agreed.

    • Kevin

      Ooooo… good one!!

  • bb

    Jack Nicholson in the Shining and Teh Departed

    • DocRules

      I don’t agree with your choice. Jack Nicholson usually plays crazy with some bad, if not evil, in it.

  • DTO

    There also cases of actors known for playing villains being surprising effective good guys. Gary Oldman in the BATMAN and HARRY POTTER films. Christopher Walken as a doting father in CATCH ME IF YOU CAN. I’m sure there are more.

  • Mandy

    I knew Leo needed something to spark his career (which is amazing, but still has so much potential). I think this is it.
    For seeing Revolutionary Road and other projects of Leo’s, I know he is capable of a villian role.
    I vote Idris Alba plays opposite of Leo in this one.

    • Kelcie

      “Anyone who’s seen those wolfish eyes in Blood Diamond or his edgy genius in The Aviator knows that the potential for cruelty is there.” I couldn’t have said it better. Especially with the Archer character. One of my favorite roles he’s ever done.
      I’d LOVE to see Idris in a film alongside Leo. I think that would be tons of fun to watch on screen.

  • Ian

    Umm Heath Ledger in The Dark KNight

    • Rick

      Hands-down!

    • Julie

      Without a doubt!

  • Kim E

    OMG! I cannot wait for this, hopefully it happens!

  • Angela

    Yes, yes, yes! He was initially up for the role of Hans Landa in Basterds, and while Christoph Waltz was amazing, I still wonder what DiCaprio would’ve been like in the role. He needs to do something different: villainous, supporting, comic or a combination of those. Would love to see this.

    Also, for normally good-guy actors taking a villainous role, I’d add Matt Damon as Colin Sullivan in The Departed. He was selfish and ruthless, but somehow still charismatic. Great performance.

  • TW

    I hope Leo does this role becuase he would be perfect as a villain in a QT film. Hopefully Samuel L and Christoph will do the other roles. I don’t know who I want to see play Django as Stringer Bell, Omar, and even Will Smith would be good for the role. I just want to see it get made quick regardless of who ends up playing as Django.

  • MhM

    Bryan Cranston for Breaking Bad.

  • Theria

    How bout Travolta. He can waive his fee again, Mr. Tarantino. He would be fabulous. Don’t cha think???

    • Jordan

      Awful suggestion, Travolta hasn’t been good in a movie since Pulp Fiction

  • Steve

    In Blood Diamond, Leo was not a villain but there were villanous characteristics to the character he portrayed and he certainly did do a damn fine job in this role. This guy is one of the best actors out there along with Daniel Day Lewis Russell Crowe… Not the greatest but an all time great actor. Im sure he will do pretty damn good and probably win an award for it.

  • Bullitt68

    Henry Fonda in OUATITW for sure. Nothing beats that.

  • Ecostarr

    I’m disappointed by those who chose Tom Cruise over Henry Fonda and attribute that to never having seen Henry Fonda play Frank in “Once Upon a Time in the West” which was one of the most truly evil characters I’ve seen represented on film. His performance was flawless, and was quite the contrast to the heroic characters he tended to play. If you haven’t seen Sergio Leone’s movie, you have missed out on a cinematic masterpiece.

  • vinnyv

    Liam Neeson in Batman Begins.

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