While it's a thoroughly entertaining movie, Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained doesn't pull any punches in its depiction of the horrors of slavery, and the film's stars tell ET that by facing the ugly truth of our shared history, we can grow to understand it and learn not to repeat it.
"Those things are supposed to create dialogue," says Jamie Foxx. "It puts it in historical context. If we hadn't done it this honestly, there's no need to do the film. If you sugarcoated it, it would have been absolutely … terrible."
"I also think what's great about the film is it's a story of a hero, and in every fairytale, in order to have a hero, you have to have some dragons to slay," says Kerry Washington. "So there had to be the ugliness of slavery in the film so that you understand that Django's rise into his own heroic story [is] coming from somewhere -- that he's up against some really ugly demons. And yet in that context, in this ugly world of slavery, love allows him to conquer all of that. We had to be willing to show the ugly stuff so that the hero's journey meant something."
In theaters Christmas Day, Tarantino's action-packed "Southern" tracks a former slave-turned-bounty hunter (Foxx) who sets out to rescue his wife (Washington) from a ruthless plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio) with the help of his mentor, German-born bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz).
"I'm fully aware that [the story] is fiction – that doesn't mean that I doubt in any way any of the horrific details of history," says Waltz. "If we all of sudden claim we understand [slavery] by making a movie, I think we would sort of sidestep a little bit the responsibility of dealing with the real thing."
Don Johnson, Bruce Dern, Walton Goggins, James Remar, Franco Nero, RZA and Samuel L. Jackson round out the cast of Django Unchained.