Jamie Foxx & Kerry Washington Defend ‘Django Unchained’ Against Criticism

Photo Credit: @ETOnlineAlert Twitpic
Photo Credit: @ETOnlineAlert Twitpic

By: Taren Vaughan

Jamie Foxx and Kerry Washington got the chance to star in Quentin Tarantino’s latest creation Django Unchained. And with the movie not even reaching its one week mark yet, it has already created a huge amount of buzz amongst those who have seen it and those who are still trying to make their way to the theaters to see what all the talk is about for themselves. As many people are singing its praising left and right, there are those who have no desire to see it whatsoever for they feel it is extremely disrespectful to those who endured slavery. As for the actors and actresses involved in the film, a number of them have come forward to address the criticisms that the film is getting in an attempt to explain the true purpose behind the movie and why it was not meant to be a sugar coated depiction of how things were during that time period. Both Jamie Foxx and Kerry Washington spoke in depth about the movie in an interview that they did with Entertainment Tonight. And Jamie started off by commenting on the fact that slavery has been a thing that not only white people but black people have had a problem talking about in detail because of the harsh realities that it brings to light. And he adds that even though Spike Lee is not backing the film, another notable African American director has applauded Tarantino’s efforts with it:

“We’re so afraid of slavery. Both sides, both black and white people are afraid of it because it’s an ugly past. And some of those elements and that residue still exist. I think this movie should start that dialogue. I also believe now since I’ve seen it with an All-Black audience and an All-White one, I’m relieved. And the reason I say that is because this movie is like a gymnastics routine at its highest difficulty, with all the twists and turns that Quentin Tarantino could get into and he lands a movie. With people like Stan Lathan, who’s a journeyman, Black journeyman director, raved about the film. So we’re good.”

Jamie also speaks on the whole purpose behind the film which was to create meaningful conversation amongst those who went out to see it. And because that is the goal that the producers and cast members were aiming for, it was necessary that they delivered a raw, uncensored piece to the viewers because if not,  Jamie says there would have been no real purpose to do the film at all:

“But what I say to our Black folks, ‘We are very, very smart.’ And we’re very smart in the way of we know that if our Black audience as a whole is not satisfied, then we’re in trouble. But as a whole, they really enjoyed the film. And like I said, those things are supposed to create dialogue. When you talk about the “N” Word, the “N” word at that time was not a hot button issue. It wasn’t a hot button word. That’s the way they labeled you. So maybe you’ll get a little insight on how we use it. Even me, you know, I use it a lot. Sometimes I can’t even start my sentences out without saying it (laughs). So you know it just makes you think about certain things…And here’s the thing, if we hadn’t done it this honest, there’s no need to do the film. If you sugarcoated it, it would have been absolutely worse, I think terrible to tell you the truth.”

Kerry Washington, who stars in hit show Scandal and who has worked with Jamie Foxx before in the past, chimed in with her point of view of the movie. And she said that they had no choice but to show those hard-to-watch moments in the movie in order for people to truly understand how Django went from a freed slave to a hero and how his love for her character pushed him to fight that much harder:

“I also think what’s great about the film is the story of a hero. And in every fairytale, in order to have a hero, you have to have some dragons to slay. So there had to be the ugliness of slavery in the film so that you understand that Django’s rise into his own heroic story, that it’s coming from somewhere. He’s up against some really ugly demons. And yet in that context, in this ugly world of slavery, love allows him to conquer all of that. So we had to be willing to show the ugly stuff so that the hero’s journey meant something.”

And to Jamie, African Americans as a whole have gone through our own journey, him believing that an evolution has occurred in our society, one that has resulted in Black people being given the chance to take on positions of power and more rights for other groups that have struggled to gain them:

“I use this phrase ‘The evolution of freedom’. I play a slave…And you know I got all comic friends. Speedy and them calling me ‘Hey man, how you doing? You slaving down there? I see you got on a cotton shirt, did you pick that?’ So I’m going through all this stuff with these dudes ’cause you know they so crazy. Then the next thing you know, I play in a movie where I play the President of the United States. And it almost speaks to how great this country is. Not to be you know, all sappy, but look at the evolution where once there was slavery and now you have an African American president who’s decent, who a lot of people voted for that weren’t black. So you see where we’re going. Look at how women in their struggle to vote and now all of a sudden women are still on their way and you look at gay marriage, all these different things, it’s the evolution…Quentino Tarantino does a fantastic thing as a director, I gotta speak on this, he shows it in a way where you can take it. And it’s like the entertainment value is so high that it like, I’m going to tell you privately what I said, because I told him ‘Boy you pulled some things off right there’. I was like ‘You know I had my speech ready just in case you know,’…But he pulls it off”

While Jamie was able to joke with friends off set about his role in the film, there were moments when things were not comical for him at all. And even with the hard days that they endured, Kerry talks about the moment where Jamie mentioned the powerful character that she plays in Scandal to her as a reminder that although they were playing slaves in this particular film that in today’s world, the opportunities for African Americans are greater than what they once were:

“There were some tough days on set where Jamie would lean over and say ‘How you doing Olivia Pope?’, almost to remind me that who were are, the full spectrum of who were are is that we came from slavery but now we can do anything. You know, she, Olivia’s arguably one of the most powerful women in the country. So to go from someone who’s considered a fraction of a human being to someone who’s pulling the strings in the White House, that’s a journey. And we’re all of that.”

Check out Jamie and Kerry’s interview below:


  1. People are overacting as usual. The N word is a terrible word, but the use of it in the film was realistic. There’s so much more to the movie than the N word. Sheesh.

  2. I love how they defended the movie. I agree that we have come a long way and it’s great that black people are finally getting diverse film roles. But we still have a long way to go.This was a great movie and I plan to see it again.

  3. Loved the movie. People are so anxious to be high and mighty all the time. It’s a movie, no a documentary on slavery.

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