When The Hateful Eight was casting, we heard that Jennifer Lawrence was wanted for a key role in this Quentin Tarantino directed Western revenge epic. But that noise quietly fell to the side, and eventually Jennifer Jason Leigh stepped into take on the role of wanted woman Daisy Domergue. Some have wondered why Jennifer Lawrence didn't take the role. And the answer is simple. The young actress was simply too busy at the time. Speaking with EW, Quentin Tarantino had this to say about Jennifer Lawrence passing on the gritty role.
"She was just doing me a courtesy to see me, I think. She was doing Joy. She had to [do] all this publicity on the Hunger Games movies. There was just no fucking way in the world that she was available. Having said that, I'm glad I didn't cast somebody that young. I think I absolutely positively made the right choice, as far as the ages of the characters. I'm a huge Jennifer Lawrence fan. I think I've been on record of saying that her and David O. Russell's relationship is very William Wyler-Bette Davis like, and that's a good thing to be like. And I can see her doing a good job with this role, so we went to talk about it and everything."
When Quentin Tarantino sets out to make a movie, the casting becomes an event in and of itself. Most of the time, he loves to reteam with those he's worked with before. And this time out, The Hateful Eight is a who's who of Tarantino all-stars. Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Walton Goggins, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen and Bruce Dern have all worked with the maestro before. But this was Jennifer Jason Leigh's first foray into this world. And her casting reelects the director's ability to rediscover iconic actors and actresses who have perhaps slipped out of the spotlight.
He is, of course, not opposed to bringing big A list talent into his films. Django Unchained was headlined by Leonardo DiCaprio and Jamie Foxx. And Brad Pitt led the epic ensemble cast of Inglourious Basterds. And that could have happened with The Hateful Eight had Jennifer Lawrence cleared a path to work with the acclaimed director. Perhaps that will happen in a few years?
Daisy Domergue is a fugitive of the law. She has been beaten, her face is bruised, and she is responsible for bringing an army of angry and dangerous men to Minnie's Haberdashery. The 53-year-old Jennifer Jason Leigh has the film resting squarely on her shoulders. Perhaps a younger actress wouldn't have brought the same kind of weight to the role. Daisy has the distinction of being only one of two roles that Quentin Tarantino did not directly write with someone already in mind. About that, he explains the following.
"I'm not worrying about an actor's limitations or their pluses - it only is the character," says Tarantino. "That character can really go and find itself any way it can, and hopefully, it completely exists on the page. Now you have to find somebody that can take it from the page and take it even further. Daisy Domergue was almost an impossible role to cast in a conventional way - i.e., an actress coming in the room and knocking your socks off, and us saying, 'Oh wow, that's Daisy.' Because if you've seen the movie, you know that the way she is in the last chapter is not necessarily the way she is in the chapters building up to it."
Quentin Tarantino recognized that there was a very 1990s quality to the movie. It harkened back to his earliest work. And because of that, he decided to reflect on his casting process when he was first starting out. He says of landing on Jennifer Jason Leigh.
"There was a throwback to Reservoir Dogs quality to this whole [movie] so there was this kind of full circle quality going on. So I was like, the actress should be from that same boat as the [other] actors, and there were about three actresses from that period that really kind of made an indelible mark on me. I started going on little film festivals of the three, and frankly, it was the Jennifer Jason Leigh film festival that I enjoyed the most. I literally was just having a ball with this Jennifer Jason Leigh film festival. It was a nice little reminder that in the '90s, she was like a female Sean Penn. You didn't just cast her in girlfriend roles; you cast her in movies where the whole movie was about her performance. So it got me very, very excited about seeing a performance-dominated Jennifer Jason Leigh movie."
Even with Jennifer Jason Leigh pulling in an Academy Award worthy performance, its not hard to see Jennifer Lawrence in the role. Even if she is younger. But now we can't imagine anyone else bringing the heat like Jennifer Jason Leigh. What do you think? Did the casting turn out perfect? Or would you have rather seen Jennifer Lawrence as Daisy?