Samuel L. Jackson, Kerry Washington in a scene from “Django Unchained,” opening Christmas Day

*For the African American actors in “Django Unchained,” the experience of shooting the film on a real former slave plantation was surreal enough on its own.

But after director Quentin Tarantino and his production design team added the cotton fields, the dozens of extras working those fields and other details to enhance the plot about a freed slave looking to retrieve his wife from bondage, the surreal became a little too real.

“We were shooting on an actual slave plantation called Evergreen Plantation in Louisiana, and so that lent itself to all of us kind of disappearing into the story,” says Washington, who plays Broom Hilda, the enslaved wife awaiting rescue by her husband Django (Jamie Foxx). “You felt like you were making the film on sacred ground. You felt like you were reenacting this behavior where these crimes against humanity were actually committed. It started to infiltrate everybody’s acting and behavior and choices and relationships.”

“Django Unchained” Press Conference In NY With (L-R) Jonah Hill, Don Johnson, Kerry Washington, Jamie Foxx, director/screenwriter Quentin Tarantino, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson and Walton Goggins

During a weekend press conference in New York, Samuel L. Jackson, who plays the snitch slave Stephen, described the shock of his first day shooting on the plantation.

“Django Unchained” opens Christmas Day. Watch a clip from the film featuring Jackson and Washington below.