Did ‘Django Unchained’ Feature a Real Onscreen Death?

A Facebook meme claimed that actor Ato Essandoh was really killed by dogs while cameras rolled for authenticity's sake.

  • Published 18 February 2016

Claim

Actor Ato Essandoh was killed during the filming of 'Django Unchained.'

Rating

Origin

In February 2016, an old rumor claiming that actor Ato Essandoh had been killed during the filming of Django Unchained began recirculating on Facebook in meme form. The rumor held that Essandoh had been “torn apart alive by dogs” on camera, at the insistence of star Leonardo DiCaprio, in order to lend a sense of verisimilitude to the period film:

django meme

This graphic was first shared on the internet shortly after the theatrical release of Django Unchained in 2012, in reference to the following chilling scene:

At the time, Ato Essandoh debunked his own death hoax on Twitter:

death hoax

The actor also discussed the death hoax in an interview with City Beat in July 2013:

(Dealing with the death hoax) was fun because I was just on Twitter and somebody tweeted me that and I just about to dismiss it — I was like oh, that’s so stupid — and then I saw that there were like 500 comments, people who were like, ‘Is this true? Did Leonardo DiCaprio kill this poor boy? Did he sacrifice himself?’ Are you kidding me? So I just started tweeting. Once you get my snark going, I’ll just start snarking it up all over Twitter. So that was one of the best things that’s happened in my career, I guess — people thinking I’m dead!

Rumors about Ato Essandoh’s death at the hands of Leonardo DiCaprio, Quentin Tarantino, and a dog weren’t true when they first circulated in 2012, and (unsurprisingly) still weren’t true when they came around once again, nearly four years later.

Snopes.com
Since 1994
A Word to Our Loyal Readers

Support Snopes and make a difference for readers everywhere.

Editorial
  • David Mikkelson
  • Doreen Marchionni
  • David Emery
  • Bond Huberman
  • Jordan Liles
  • Alex Kasprak
  • Dan Evon
  • Dan MacGuill
  • Bethania Palma
  • Liz Donaldson
Operations
  • Vinny Green
  • Ryan Miller
  • Chris Reilly
  • Chad Ort
  • Elyssa Young

Most Snopes assignments begin when readers ask us, “Is this true?” Those tips launch our fact-checkers on sprints across a vast range of political, scientific, legal, historical, and visual information. We investigate as thoroughly and quickly as possible and relay what we learn. Then another question arrives, and the race starts again.

We do this work every day at no cost to you, but it is far from free to produce, and we cannot afford to slow down. To ensure Snopes endures — and grows to serve more readers — we need a different kind of tip: We need your financial support.

Support Snopes so we continue to pursue the facts — for you and anyone searching for answers.

Team Snopes