UPDATE: Sacha Baron Cohen has freed himself from the shackles of Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained."
The "Hugo" star was originally attached to play the role of Scotty Harmony, a role described in the screenplay as an overweight 24-year-old who receives a female slave as a gift from his father (and one severely re-imagined after Tarantino's first choice for the part, Jonah Hill, proved to be unavailable). According to The Playlist, Cohen is unable to play the role due to scheduling conflicts with "The Dictator" press tour (which is proving to be quite the production in and of itself).
Sacha Baron Cohen is the third actor who's had to drop out of "Django" due to scheduling conflicts, following Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Kevin Costner. Costner has since been replaced by "Death Proof" star Kurt Russell, but no word yet on who will be filling in for Gordon-Levitt and, now, Cohen.
We're sure it will all work out for the best, as it usually does with a Tarantino film. After all, in "Pulp Fiction," Vincent Vega was originally supposed to be played by Michael Madsen (who played Vincent's brother Vic in "Reservoir Dogs"), the role of Jules almost went to Paul Calderon and Uma Thurman was almost not in the movie at all.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
It's going to get to the point where we don't ask who's in "Django Unchained" but who isn't?
In the meantime, we'll tell you another person who is: Sacha Baron Cohen, Hollywood's resident court jester, has signed on for some Western (Southern) shenanigans in Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained," according to Variety.
The "Borat" star will be playing the role of Scott Harmony, a man whose father buys him the slave, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), to help boost his self-confidence. They end up striking up something of a strange companionship until Scott goes up against the evil Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) in a card game.
At this point, you could tell us that the Wampa from "The Empire Strikes Back" was starring in "Django Unchained" and we wouldn't be surprised (and we'd probably approve), but Cohen is an especially interesting addition to Tarantino's ensemble, if only because it's always fascinating to watch him when he actually has to follow a script (and actually take direction).
Speaking of following a script and taking direction, Sacha Baron Cohen will next be seen in Martin Scorsese's "Hugo," opening Nov. 23. His latest practical joke disguised as a movie, "The Dictator," will hit theaters on May 11, 2012.
"Django" will be "Unchained" on Dec. 25, 2012.
Originally published on Friday, Nov. 11, 2011 at 6:55 p.m. ET.