Sky Atlantic’s ‘Django’ is a Western drama that follows the story of the eponymous character whose arrival in the town of New Babylon stirs the pot of an already complicated situation. Django, also known as Julian, is searching for his daughter, Sarah, the only surviving member of his family after the rest were killed eight years ago. He finds Sarah as one of the leaders of New Babylon. The girl has had a rough few years and has learned to take care of herself in the worst of situations.
The show focuses on Django’s efforts to reunite with his daughter, who isn’t ready to forgive him for abandoning her all those years ago. In playing the war-hardened Django, actor Matthias Schoenaerts brings a sense of soft-heartedness to the character, which makes him more believable. The realistic portrayal of the character might make you wonder if he is inspired by a real person. Here’s what you should know about him.
Is Julian Wright, aka Django Based on a Real Person?
‘Django’ is a fictional story written by Leonardo Fasoli, Maddalena Ravagli and Max Hurwitz. It is loosely inspired by Sergio Corbucci’s film of the same name but diverges significantly from its source material. The character of Django borrows the name and some character traits from Franco Nero’s version, but eventually, the TV show’s character has his own unique journey that takes him on a different road than the one paved for the film’s protagonist.
Director Francesca Comencini revealed that Matthias Schoenaerts was the first choice for the role of Django. They thought he was a perfect fit because they needed someone who could be tough on the exterior but also present the inner conflict and vulnerabilities of the character. “[Schoenaerts] has this double aspect for me that Django should have. He’s so strong. It’s so impressive as a man with his vulnerability, but also he has this crisis inside his eyes, kind of an unexpected tenderness, unexpected fragility,” she said.
Comencini wanted this mix of melancholia, tenderness, and strength for Django, and Schoenaerts brings it to the screen exceptionally well. The actor was enticed to become a part of the series due to “the cinematic and iconic scope of the genre. It has to do with redemption, it has to do with mystery, there’s a stranger, there’s revenge, there’s loss.” He revealed that even though his character has origins in France, he didn’t want to imitate a French accent in English as it wouldn’t sit well with Django’s image.
Another thing that Schoenaerts focused on was conveying as much as possible through silences. “Most of the time, I’m like, ‘OK, if I can play this without saying it, then why am I saying it?’ If you convey it, then it’s like you’re becoming a painting. You can put ten people in front of a Van Gogh painting and ask them what they saw, and they’ll all come up with something different,” he said.
The actor also saw Django as a different breed of protagonist in the Western genre. “In most westerns, they’re driven by pride, but he has a lot of shame, kind of a reversal of the typical drive that the lead has. I like the concept: ‘Don’t judge a book by the cover.’ And that doesn’t only go for guys that have intimidating armor; that also goes for people that look innocent and then actually are insanely crazy.” Considering all this, we can say that Django, aka Julian Wright, is an imaginary character created to serve the plot of the TV show. However, the show’s creators and the actor have done their best to make him as relatable and realistic a person as possible.