12/20/2012 04:43 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington Talk About Race, the N-Word, And Django Unchained (Video Interview)


When I asked Jamie Foxx and Kerry Washington if they had refused anything that director Quentin Tarantino asked them to do or say in Django Unchained -- you can imagine that these very smart African-American actors, playing slaves, might tell their white director where to draw the line -- I got a very revealing non-answer. "We'll keep that private," Foxx said, then went on to describe the dynamics on set, including what he thinks about the N-word, how Leonardo DiCaprio felt saying it, what Samuel L. Jackson told Leo.

Washington, speaking just as passionately about the film and its subject, points out that their characters, Broomhilda and Django, were violating the law by being married, because marriage between slaves got in the way of "the business of selling people."

Django Unchained is one of the best films of the year, even if it is "a brilliant mess," as I said in my year-end best-films list. Its sprawling range is part of its huge ambition, as Tarantino blends homage to spaghetti Westerns, moments of comedy (you have to see Foxx dressed in a foppish suit with breeches, straight from Gainsborough's 'Blue Boy"), shootout scenes in which the screen seems to be raining blood, and most of all a visceral portrayal of the horrors of slavery, including a scene in which Washington's character is whipped.

Take a look at what Foxx and Washington had to say in our brief but packed video interview. (And you can watch my interview with Christoph Waltz, who is fantastic as the bounty hunter who frees Django and helps him find Broomhilda, here.)

Jamie Foxx & Kerry Washington talk about Django Unchained from Caryn James on Vimeo. Video edited by Taylor Levy.