Quentin Tarantino‘s Django Unchained debuted at the number 2 spot on its opening Christmas day. Grossing $14 million, the film arrived behind Les Miserables which raked in $17.5 million, according to THR.
Although Spike Lee slammed the film and its representation of black ancestry, in VIBE Magazine’s Dec/Jan cover story, Kerry Washington, who stars alongside Leonardo DiCaprio and Jamie Foxx as Django’s enslaved wife Broomhilda, speaks on the lessons she learned while filming and the dark depths the screenwriting forced her to go.
“I remember there was this one moment in the script where Jamie’s character was put in an awful crazy medieval metal mask,” she tells VIBE. “I said, ‘’That’s some sick thing Quentin thought up.’ And when I went to the production office to meet about my wardrobe, I saw into the research office. Twenty photos of real masks like that. It made me sad. I realized as much as my degrees and everything I’ve read on slave narratives [should have informed me], I didn’t even know that they wore masks like that, that people did that to us. It took a Tarantino movie for me to know that that’s not some crazy thing out of his imagination.”
Despite the backlash and controversy that was brewing during production, Washington acknowledges a trust that was built on set between the cast, especially between herself and Ray co-star Foxx.
“I think there is something beautiful about the fact that the film is about a husband and wife being reunited after being separated,” she says. “But the places we had to go emotionally I would not be able to go with an actor that I didn’t respect, admire, trust and love.”
Among a barrage of criticism, disturbing dialog (several n-word drops) and Tarantino’s brazen massacres of slave masters, what’s also fascinating is Washington’s ability to shut off Broomhilda in order to execute her powerful primetime TV role, Scandal‘s Olivia Pope.
“It was really weird,” she admits. “I felt like when I went back to play Olivia Pope, I didn’t know how to walk in heels any more because I’ve been running barefoot in the woods for six months. I didn’t know how to stand like her. I didn’t know what it was like to wear pants anymore. It was really interesting. It was like having to go two centuries in two days and what those two centuries meant as a black woman. To be from somebody who wasn’t even considered a human being in our constitution to arguably one of the most powerful women in the country because she put the president where he is. It fucked with my head a little bit.”