Despite my unbridled anticipation for Quentin Tarantino‘s Django Unchained, one has to admit it’s been an up-and-down rollercoaster of casting since the first inklings, when Will Smith was looking at the lead role. Kevin Costner departed before production, and then Joseph Gordon-Levitt recently exited due to scheduling issues and now we’ve got two more actors we won’t see on the big screen.

First up, Sacha Baron Cohen announced on Howard Stern‘s show that he won’t be able to make his cameo work due to his commitment to The Dictator press tour. Following that, Variety has confirmed some rumblings that Kurt Russell is gone from the film, but why?

Someone on the IMDb forums, with a source working on set, has a possible answer and while it isn’t confirmed it gives us a hint of some problems on set. Reportedly Russell was “unhappy with his role”  and “walked off the set” one day. His reason? The film wasn’t “western enough.”  Hopefully we’ll get it a confirmed reason soon, but this source says his character of Ace, a plantation owner, will just be cut from the film, along with Cohen’s brief cameo role.

To keep tabs, we’ve still got a mighty fine ensemble of Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson, Gerald McRaney, Dennis Christopher, Laura Cayouette, M.C. Gainey, Don Johnson, Kerry Washington, Anthony LaPaglia, RZA, Tom Wopat, James Remar, James Russo and Todd Allen. Check out the synopsis below.

Set in the South two years before the Civil War, DJANGO UNCHAINED stars Academy Award®-winner Jamie Foxx as Django, a slave whose brutal history with his former owners lands him face-to-face with German-born bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Academy Award®-winner Christoph Waltz). Schultz is on the trail of the murderous Brittle brothers, and only Django can lead him to his bounty. The unorthodox Schultz acquires Django with a promise to free him upon the capture of the Brittles – dead or alive.

Success leads Schultz to free Django, though the two men choose not to go their separate ways. Instead, Schultz seeks out the South’s most wanted criminals with Django by his side. Honing vital hunting skills, Django remains focused on one goal: finding and rescuing Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), the wife he lost to the slave trade long ago.

Django and Schultz’s search ultimately leads them to Calvin Candie (Academy Award®-nominee Leonardo DiCaprio), the proprietor of “Candyland,” an infamous plantation where slaves are groomed by trainer Ace Woody (Kurt Russell) to battle each other for sport. Exploring the compound under false pretenses, Django and Schultz arouse the suspicion of Stephen (Academy Award®-nominee Samuel L. Jackson), Candie’s trusted house slave. Their moves are marked, and a treacherous organization closes in on them. If Django and Schultz are to escape with Broomhilda, they must choose between independence and solidarity, between sacrifice and survival…

Django Unchained arrives on December 25th, 2012.

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