Will Smith to return as slave in Tarantino western

May 8, 2011
Sophie Taylor

Absent from the big screen since 2008 flop, Smith may star in ‘Django Unchained’

He has been taking a back seat in favour of his kids' burgeoning careers since his 2008 flop Seven Pounds, but now Will Smith looks set to return to the big screen as a slave searching for his wife in Quentin Tarantino's next movie.

Filming has yet to begin, but Tarantino's new script, circulating in Hollywood just now, is drawing high praise. Expected to be an homage to the spaghetti westerns beloved of its director, Django Unchained will be shot in the southern US this autumn.

It's not known if Smith has read the script yet, but the Hollywood Reporter says that it is in his hands. He will have to think carefully: themes of racism and slavery – and liberal use of the n-word – make the film a controversial project.

Smith would, of course, take the title role, with old Tarantino hands Samuel L Jackson and Christoph Walz co-starring. Walz is expected to play a part written specially for him of a German bounty hunter who teams up with Smith's character to take down an evil plantation owner.

Jackson will portray a Machiavellian house slave who enjoys a face-off with Smith's Django.

If he does take the project on – and no formal offer has yet been made – any box office success will be a welcome relief for Smith. Despite his 2008 flop, he is still one of the few Hollywood big beasts considered bankable – but he needs to prove he still has what it takes.

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