When the deadly smoke of script rewrites and cutting room machinery clears away, Oklahoma actor Rex Linn may have all of five minutes left in Quentin Tarantino's wild wild Western “Django Unchained,” but he doesn't feel bloodied a bit.
On the contrary, Tennessee Harry.
“It sure is a good feeling to be part of a film that's been nominated for five Golden Globe Awards,” Linn said in a genuine drawl that could only be acquired from growing up in Texas and Oklahoma.
Tennessee Harry is the name of Linn's character in the film — a member of a mounted, marauding mob of hood-wearing, torch-bearing plantation overseers who are out to track down the ex-slave-turned-bounty-hunter of the title, played by Jamie Foxx.
The film opens nationwide Tuesday.
“I do look forward to seeing ‘Django' in my hometown of Oklahoma City on Christmas Day,” Linn said last week from his Los Angeles home.
One-time video store clerk and lifelong B-movie and spaghetti Western geek-turned-filmmaker Tarantino based his new film very loosely on a 1966 Italian oater called “Django,” directed by Sergio Corbucci and starring Franco Nero (Sir Lancelot of Joshua Logan's “Camelot,” husband of Vanessa Redgrave) in the title role.
The film about a lone gunslinger dragging a Gatling gun around in a coffin became a cult classic, inspiring more than 40 unofficial sequels over the next 45 years, of which “Django Unchained” is the latest.
“I like evoking the ‘Django' title for what it means to spaghetti Westerns and that mythology,” writer-director Tarantino says in the film's production notes. “I'm proud to say that we are a new edition to the unrelated ‘Django' rip-off sequels.”
Tarantino's version is set in the South two years before the Civil War, starring Oscar-winner Foxx (“Ray”) as Django, a slave who is recruited by German-born bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Oscar-winner Christoph Waltz) to help track down the murderous Brittle brothers. Schultz promises to free Django when the outlaws are captured — or killed.
But once this is accomplished, the two men remain together as partners, tracking down other outlaws as Django hones his skills with firearms and focuses on finding and rescuing Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), the wife he lost to slave traders years before.
The trail finally leads Django and Schultz to the ruthless Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), master of the infamous Candieland plantation where Broomhilda is enslaved.
“Quentin's always wanted to do a Western,” Linn said. “And if you think about it, even in ‘Inglourious Basterds,' even in ‘Pulp Fiction,' there's a Western theme song in all of 'em. There's some Western in it. And so for him to be able to do a Western was just like a dream come true.”
Dream come true
And for Linn, 56, it was like a dream come true to be cast in it. The Texas-born actor, who spent his high school and college years in Oklahoma (Heritage Hall and Casady School in Oklahoma City, graduating from Oklahoma State University with a degree in radio, television and film), has been a working character actor in TV and theatrical film since the late 1980s, appearing in such big-screen hits as “Cliffhanger,” “Wyatt Earp,” “Tin Cup,” “Breakdown,” “Ghosts of Mississippi” and a 10-year run as Detective Frank Tripp on “CSI: Miami,” which was canceled earlier this year.
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