Kerry Washington has been in several roles that have taken a physical and emotional toll, but none as intense as that of Broomhilda von Shaft, a slave in the new film "Django Unchained." Washington revealed that she was "concerned" for her sanity while filming.
"I felt like if it had gone on a week longer, I would have lost my mind. I never let my people come visit me on set. I think it's terribly distracting. I don't enjoy it, but I asked [them] to come down because I was concerned for my sanity," the actress told The Los Angeles Times.
Her manager and parents all made the trip to support Washington and provide the encouragement she needed to finish filming the movie. Washington's character, Broomhilda von Shaft, is a slave who needs rescuinf from an abusive slavemaster; the role, while psychologically intense, also called for a heavy physical aspect.
"A scene like the whipping scene – the fact that I was doing that in a place where the sound of a whip against human flesh had echoed from hundreds of years ago … We would be out in the woods in Louisiana with the birds chirping and bees buzzing – and when the first sound of that whip was heard on set, everything stopped. It was like nature knew we were going back. It was silent," Washington explained.
The film itself has come under heavy scrutiny for the portrayal of slavery and the language used throughout. Director Quentin Tarantino has defended his picture, saying that it accurately portrays a period in American history.
"When it comes to what this movie is trying to say and the racial implications inside of it, there is nobody better to talk to than Kerry," Tarantino said before the film was even released. "She gets it; she is my greatest soldier, my greatest politician."
For Washington, it was the opportunity of a lifetime.
"I have to honor the truth of what happened here to the best of my ability," she told The Times. "One of our background actors was a pastor, and he was saying on set that we are the answer to their prayers – to the very people who walked on this land … and that's why we are here to tell their story."
"Django Unchained" is now playing in theaters across the country.