“I really, really hated him”: Quentin Tarantino’s “Weird” Relationship To Leonardo DiCaprio’s “Substandard” Character Almost Upended Their Oscar-Winning Film

“I really, really hated him”: Quentin Tarantino’s “Weird” Relationship To Leonardo DiCaprio’s “Substandard” Character Almost Upended Their Oscar-Winning Film
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It’s hard not to sympathize with a Quentin Tarantino villain, considering the director has succeeded in making them likable and charismatic to some extent irrespective of how despicable they are. But there is one famous anomaly to this equation, Leonardo DiCaprio’s Calvin Candie from Django Unchained.


Surprisingly, Tarantino wasn’t initially confident about the villain he wrote for the star-studded Western, comprising Samuel Jackson. Christopher Waltz, Jamie Fox, etc. And Considering this antagonist deviated from most of the other despicable characters he has written, it resulted in a weird dynamic between him and DiCaprio’s Calvin Candie.

Also read: “No house, no Cadillac for mommy”: Quentin Tarantino Killed Off His Mother in Childhood Stories After She Forbid Him From a Career in Film

Quentin Tarantino
Quentin Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino Felt Leonardo DiCaprio’s Character Was Substandard

Writing an antagonist that he absolutely despised was something pretty new for Quentin Tarantino, as even a character like Hans Landa had some likable aspects attached to him. And following his doubts about the character of Calvin Candie, who had no redeeming qualities, Tarantino thought it was substandard, which doesn’t hold a candle to some of his other vile villains.

“I had a very weird relationship with the character he played, Calvin Candie,”  Tarantino said. “Calvin Candie was different from the rest of them. I kind of detested the character. I really, really hated him. It was weird to write a character that I hated and kind of feel that way about the character. Because of that, I thought he was a substandard character.”

But contrary to his doubts, the character of Calvin Candie became a fan-favorite, and the biggest reason behind this turn-around was Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance.

Also read: “I felt like the planet earth had broken up with me”: Quentin Tarantino Was Humiliated and Depressed After His First Big Flop Until Help Came From an Unexpected Source

Leonardo DiCaprio's Calvin Candle
Leonardo DiCaprio’s Calvin Candie

Leonardo DiCaprio Filled the Character’s Shortcomings

Although Calvin Candie might not be a Quentin Tarantino villain that we’d root for, it still doesn’t stop the character from leaving a lasting impact on fans. Despite the character’s shortcomings on paper, Leonardo DiCaprio did an excellent job filling the blank spaces and bringing a sense of ambiguity to Calvin Candie, making him entertaining in an evilly delicious manner.

“When Leo was really into it, I thought I was kind of buffaloing him a little bit,” Tarantino recounted. “I thought, ‘This character is not as good as he thinks it is.’ I’m not going to set him straight! (Laughs). I’m thinking, ‘He ain’t all that.’ To me, he was without ambiguity, which makes him a lesser character. But, we did a really good job of filling in everything. And Leo brought ambiguity to the piece.”

Also read: “I don’t want to be one of those guys”: Taylor Sheridan Vowed Never to Become Like Clint Eastwood and Quentin Tarantino After Finding ‘Yellowstone’ Success

Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson in Django Unchained
Django Unchained (2012)

Not only Leonardo DiCaprio’s Candie was extremely entertaining, but he also succeeded in making the character extremely terrifying, and the lack of any likable traits only amplified the sense of terror.


Written by Santanu Roy

Articles Published: 1455

Santanu Roy is a film enthusiast with a deep love for the medium of animation while also being obsessed with The Everly Brothers, Billy Joel, and The Platters. Having expertise in everything related to Batman, Santanu spends most of his time watching and learning films, with Martin Scorsese and Park Chan-wook being his personal favorites. Apart from pursuing a degree in animation, he also possesses a deep fondness for narrative-driven games and is currently a writer at Fandomwire with over 1000 articles.