Kerry Washington can’t tell us anything about Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino’s dusty, now-shooting slave thriller. “I’m not actually at liberty to talk about that yet,” the actress says when TF calls her up for a natter. Really? Has she signed a blood oath that means she’ll answer to The Bride if she lets anything slip? “No, no, I just can’t,” Washington artfully dodges. “But I will. I will soon.”
Damn. Despite TF’s best efforts, the Bronx-hailing actress is remaining tight-lipped about Tarantino’s much-hyped latest. To be fair, it’s no surprise security’s this tight. Tarantino’s first film since 2007 Grindhouse revival Death Proof, Django could be the director’s most daring project yet. What we do know sounds massive: a fist-shaking response to America’s slave trade past, Jamie Foxx is the titular Django, enslaved to Leo DiCaprio’s evil plantation owner, and desperate to be reunited with his wife, played by Washington.
Alright, so Django’s off the menu, but what can Washington talk about? Well, new film Mother And Child, in which she plays a young woman desperate for a child but unable to conceive. Directed by Rodrigo Garcia, Washington shares the screen with Annette Bening and Naomi Watts in a movie that she’s clearly passionate about. “I love this movie,” the actress enthuses at the mere mention of its title. “In a world where women are so often the accessory to the story, to have three really fully developed, three dimensional women on such different journeys… I think it’s a special film.” And Bening? “I love her, she’s been a hero of mine for many years.”
Seeing as we’re talking Hollywood big wigs, how is it working with Leonardo DiCaprio on Django Unchained? “What is your next question?” Washington laughs. Clearly nothing’s getting past this smart cookie. And she is a smart cookie. Having grown up in the Bronx, raised by a professor mother and a real estate broker father, Washington studied at The George Washington University before heading to India to study art and culture (“I really wanted to ground myself before selling my soul to do adverts for Burger King!”).
Did she ever imagine she’d end up working with someone like, say, Tarantino? “No, I mean, I didn’t imagine that I would,” the actress says. “When I was growing up I loved acting and theatre, but I didn’t know anybody who did this for a living. Then I realised people could make a living being an actor, and that was the goal for me. And it continues to be; to be able to do what I love to do.”
For the past decade, Washington has done just that. She played Idi Amin’s doomed wife in The Last King Of Scotland, a spy in Mr & Mrs Smith, and The Thing’s squeeze in both Fantastic Four films. Though she admits that she still has “a comforting level of anonymity”, that’s set to change with upcoming Eddie Murphy comedy A Thousand Words, not to mention Django Unchained, her most high profile gig to date.
OK, TF’s grovelling now. Is there anything Washington can tell us about Django? Is she Tarantino’s new muse? What’s Leo like as a baddie? Her favourite line from the script? “I can’t, but I will,” the actress says, sounding genuinely remorseful. “When I can, I’m sure I will.” We’ll be listening Kerry, we’ll be listening…