In 1966, the film Django became a European hit, eventually spawning a sequel (Django Strikes Again, 1987) but also inspiring a horde of imitators that used the the character name in various ways to get audience attention. The latest film in the long-running non-series is Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, which adopts the Django name to tell a story that is wholly unrelated to the original ’66 film.
The original Django, Franco Nero, has a cameo in Tarantino’s film (pictured above), but now he’s poised to return to the role he made famous almost fifty years ago. Producers Eric Zaldivar and Mike Malloy have secured Nero’s interest to star in a film provisionally titled Django Lives! In addition to info on that film, after the break you’ll find a video interview with Tarantino in which he explains the Django lineage.
A press release announces the project and offers the plot idea for Django Lives!:
The story would have former gunslinger Django, in his twilight years, ending up as a silent-movie consultant in 1915 Hollywood and meeting an aspiring filmmaker with whom he reluctantly goes into business. When the filmmaker gets killed by racketeers, the young man’s gambling debts are considered transferred to Django, who must now flee for safety to a small rural community. But that town’s sharply divided inhabitants have their own problems, and Django becomes embroiled in a bloody conflict immediately upon arrival.
There’s also mention that Noah Segan (Looper) could end up playing “a younger character with mysterious intentions who befriends the aging gunslinger.”
Zaldivar and Malloy most recently worked with Nero on the award-winning cinema documentary Eurocrime! The Italian Cop and Gangster Films that Ruled the '70s, which kicked off its festival run of eight countries at the Atlanta Film Festival in March of this year.
"Everyone we met on the festival circuit wanted to know first and foremost about what it was like to interview Franco Nero," said Malloy. "He still holds a mythical tough-guy intrigue for a large audience. Nero is to European action cinema what Eastwood is to the United States. And he's taken excellent care of himself."
Zaldivar adds: "I gave Franco a Blu-ray of The Scarlet Worm and showed him what we were able to achieve on a microbudget. And he loved the new story we've developed for his return to the screen as the legendary Django. Plus, he knows that Malloy and I are two of the biggest students of Italian action cinema working today."
The project aims for arthouse, VOD and Blu-Ray releases, and the producers are hoping to lens the picture in Utah. Scarlet Worm cinematographer Michael A. Martinez will return to that post for this film.
Mr. Nero, who rose to stardom in the 1960s with such films as Warner's Camelot, has remained a popular figure in cinema and television, with recent roles in Letters to Juliet, Cars 2 and Law & Order SVU.
Malloy had Nero’s participation for the documentary Eurocrime!, which chronicled Italian cop movies of the ’70s — the films that followed the dominance of the spaghetti western. Malloy and Zaldivar were also behind the micro-budget western The Scarlet Worm, and they’ll employ that film’s cinematographer, Michael A. Martinez, to shoot Django Lives! The producers hope to shoot the film in Utah, and are raising money now as they also work to fully secure the sequel rights for the official Django films.