Quentin Tarantino has an opening for a bad guy.
The film's backers spin it this way: Costner's schedule didn't allow him to keep the role. (He's also playing Jonathan Kent -- Clark Kent's human father -- in "Man of Steel." He's also in pre-production on TV series "Hatfields and McCoys.")
The actor was to play Ace Woody, a sadistic henchman to Leonardo DiCaprio's character, Calvin Candie. Woody trains slaves on Candie's plantation to battle to the death.
The Weinstein-distributed "Django," which Tarantino wrote and is directing, is set in the West in the 1800s.
A German dentist-turned-bounty-hunter, played by Christoph Waltz, buys -- and frees -- a slave named Django so the slave can help him find a man he's looking for. Ultimately, the two become friends and the bounty hunter helps Django rescue his wife from the vicious Candie.
The Weinstein Company will release "Django Unchained" domestically. Sony Pictures will handle it internationally.
Variety first reported the news.