Kevin Costner Frees Himself From 'Django Unchained'

[caption id="attachment_34973" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Getty Images"]Kevin Costner[/caption]

UPDATE: Kevin Costner will no longer be playing the role of Ace Woody, the slave driver and trainer of villainous rancher Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), in Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained," according to a tweet from Variety.

Costner's departure is due to "scheduling conflicts" with what we're assuming is The History Channel's mini-series, "The Hatfields & the McCoys," which reunites Costner with his "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" director, Kevin Reynolds.

You know, this would be a great role for Tarantino's old pal, Tim Roth. Just saying. Anyway, stay tuned for recasting news!

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Kevin Costner hardly ever gets to be the bad guy.

But now he does, as the "Field of Dreams" star has signed on for a rather juicy villain role in Quentin Tarantino's western, "Django Unchained," according to Deadline.

Costner will play Ace Woody, the sadistic trainer of the slaves who are forced to fight each other in death matches at Candyland, the brutal club/ranch run by Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). And Woody has no qualms about killing the "mandingo" fighters who don't measure up to his standards.

Costner joins a cast that includes Jamie Foxx, who plays Django, a freed slave on a quest to be reunited with his wife; Christoph Waltz, who plays a German bounty hunter who ends up being Django's traveling companion; and trusty Tarantino alum Samuel L. Jackson, who plays Candie's crafty majordomo.

"Django Unchained" is a great gig for Costner, who could be set for a Travolta-esque career comeback now that he's in Tarantino's camp. And even though he rarely gets villain roles, we know he can certainly pull them off, if his impressive psycho turn in the otherwise wretched "3000 Miles to Graceland" is any indication.

This is the second high-profile studio project that Costner has joined recently, following him being cast as Kal-El's adoptive father, Jonathan Kent, in Zack Snyder's "Man of Steel."

It turns out that December 2012 will be a big month for Kevin Costner, as "Man of Steel" will open then on a day still to be determined and "Django" will be unchained on Christmas Day.

Originally published on Monday, July 18, 2011 at 7:36 p.m. ET.