Django Unchained is set in the Old South, and follows Django (Jamie Foxx), a freed slave who treks across America with the German dentist turned bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz). The unorthodox Schultz is after the Brittle brothers, and he acquires Django to help him catch them dead or alive, after which he promises to free Django. Furthermore, Schultz promises to help retrieve Django's wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) from the charming but sadistic Francophile plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his entourage of ruthless slavers. Candie's plantation, known as "Candyland", where slaves are trained by Ace Woody (Kurt Russell) to battle it out gladiator-style, known as "mandingo fighting." Django and Schultz enter the compound under false pretensions to search for Broomhilda, but soon arouse the suspicion of Stepen (Samuel L. Jackson), Candie's trusted house slave. After that, they must choose between independence and solidarity, and between sacrifice and survival in order to escape safely with Broomhilda.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt was originally cast as Jano, but decided not to be in Django Unchained so he can work on his directorial debut, Don Jon's Addiction. 
Kevin Costner was cast as Ace Woody, but due to schedule conflicts with Man of Steel he was replaced by Kurt Russell. Russell eventually departed the production, and the role of Billy Crash was expanded to include Woody's storyline. Rumors say that Russell and Tarantino did not see eye-to-eye on how his character should be portrayed.
Lady Gaga was considered for the role of Lara Lee Candie Fitzwilly.
Principal photography started in California in November 2011, in Wyoming in February 2012, and at the National Historic Landmark Evergreen Plantation in Wallace, Louisiana, outside of New Orleans, in March 2012.
According to critic Alex Ross, the alliance between Django and Dr. Schultz is "not as absurd" as audiences might believe, because in the 1840s many German revolutionaries and progressives left Europe for the U.S. where they often became active in the anti-slavery movement.