A number of actors were in the running for the lead role in Django Unchained, but Jamie Foxx had one clear advantage that proved irresistible to Quentin Tarantino: a little chestnut horse called Cheetah.
Foxx was given Cheetah as a birthday present four years ago and he knew that the pair would be perfect for the part of Django, a southern slave turned bounty hunter, and his trusty steed, Tony.
“I wanted to play the part and I was saying, listen I'm going to put my bid in like nobody else, I know you need somebody to ride a horse and I have a horse,” Foxx told HitFix.com.
According to Foxx, Cheetah, who had no previous acting experience, grew in confidence throughout the film, just as Django found his true calling as tough talking, fast shooting cowboy.
“My horse and I had basically the same arc: Django’s starting off as this troubled, number-six slave in the chain gang, and Cheetah was a little nervous,” Foxx said. “She would spook and the handler would grab the rein. I said, ‘Do me a favor and let go of the rein and let her find her bearings.’ Everybody would get out of the way, and I would ride her until she settled. So as Django settled, Cheetah settled.
As well as getting to grips with the challenges of riding his own horse on set, Foxx had to ride a stunt horse, without a bridle or saddle and while holding a gun.
“It was supposed to just be a little trot, but the horse was used to the stunt person and just broke out into a 28-mile-per-hour, full speed ahead gallop,” said Foxx. “On the outside, I looked like Django, but on the inside I was Little Richard. 'Oh lord, Jesus! Jesus, stop this horse! Jesus, stop this horse!'"