Interview with Quentin Tarantino December 18, 2007 He’s arguably the most successful cult film director of all time. A veteran writer and producer, Quentin Tarantino gave us The 44-year-old Tennessee native originally released his new feature ‘Death Proof’ as part of a double bill called ‘Grindhouse’ with director Robert Rodriguez, who filmed an accompanying film called ‘Planet Terror’, the project failed to capture a wide audience, even with his loyal fan base. Now the two films have split from the ‘Grindhouse’ concept and are being released and promoted separately. Jon Evans spoke to Quentin about his cinematic inspirations, throwing strops on-set and why he didn’t get to direct James Bond in ‘Casino Royale’.Q: ‘Death Proof’ crosses many genres but mostly references movies from the 50s, is it important to you to have references from the past? A: It’s kind of fun if it’s appropriate, especially if you are dealing in terms of genre and sub-genre and where your film fits inside that genre. I’m trying to do my own crazy-whacky version that hopefully I deliver not the same way that they do. At the same time if a video store is out there and they have a car chase retrospective week, I want ‘Death Proof’ to be sitting there and hopefully it’s pretty good. It deserves a shelf space! They do a heist film section, then hopefully Reservoir Dogs is sitting there and hopefully it’s different.Q: How difficult was the ‘Death Proof’ shoot? Do you have times on the set when it all gets too much?A: In the course of a long shoot I might have one or two days when I am agrumpy b**tard. There is a wild movie about movie-making called ‘HollywoodMan’ by Jack Starrett and it is about making a motorcycle movie. And at onepoint they’re on location and they are having a production meeting in thekitchen of the motel they are staying in, early in the morning. The directoris saying that the motorcycles are not working, that the stunts are going tocost too much, they talk about the time and the footage. At one point thedirector is shouting: ‘That’s it. I have had it. I have f**king had it.’ Ihad watched the movie a couple of times but after I had made ‘Kill Bill’, Ilaughed so damn hard because I thought that this was the perfect expressionof a director who loses it. Q: When was the last time you lost it like that?A: I don’t remember being quite like that on ‘Death Proof’ but I was likethat twice on ‘Kill Bill’. We shot ‘Kill Bill’ for almost a year, about ninemonths. It really was a situation like I had it. I was just sick of makingthe f**king movie, of getting up so f**king early, working so damn hard, ofnot having a life, of answering questions. I was that f**king grumpy assholethe whole day. It happened twice and eventually I come to my senses. Everyonce in a while you just want to prove to yourself that you can be likethat, that you are human and just don’ have to do what you are supposed todo all the time. Q: How did everyone else react?A: When you are like that, people don’t bug you with a million questions.They’re scared of you because you are being grumpy. They don’t go and talk to you unless they have to and when they do, they keep it short! So I was just pacing around, looking like a tiger in a cage, saying ‘I am an artist and I am doing what I want to do.’ Zoe [Bell] was my stunt cast, she was Uma Thurman’s double. I had been teaching her to start feeling like an actor, not just to jump through the window but also to know that she is thecharacter; that she isn’t jumping through the window to get money but that she is my actress. I wanted her to know the context so she wasn’t in a void. She wasn’t used to that, she was very unpretentious, she chuckled a little but tried to do it and she started getting the idea. It was during that night when we were shooting the scene when The Bride is on the motorcycle with a helmet on. I was having my little ‘disgust’, people were scaredof me. Somebody came to me saying, ‘Zoe needs to talk to you.’ She was sitting on the motorcycle in her yellow jump suit and I go, ‘You want to talk to me? What about?’ And she said, ‘I’m getting ready for the scene acting-wise – is there anything you want me to know, anything you want me to think about?’ And I just knocked it, it just all went away, because now she was starting to act like an actress – though you can’t see her face underthe helmet anyway! Q: Is it true you were going to direct ‘Casino Royale’ at one point?A: I don’t think I ever came close to it; I don’t think they ever considered me. I never saw the movie because I felt kind of raw about it. I could never really imagine doing it with the Broccolis (Bond producers) for the simple fact that they are never going to give me control. They could read the script I write and let me do it, but they were never going to give me final-cut control. And I don’t know if I could ever trust them enough that it would all work out because they were going to be too nervous about it. It’s important to them. It’s important to me, but for different reasons. The closest I came was after ‘Pulp Fiction’ when we tried to buy ‘Casino Royale’, because we didn’t know the Broccolis owned it. But the thing is, I am annoyed for two reasons: they never met with me- I deserved at least a meeting, a talking-to; and the second thing is the fact that I actuallydeserved a thanks because they would never have made ‘Casino Royale’ withoutme. They went on record saying it was unfilmable and when I started talkingabout the idea, which I hoped would provoke a meeting, then suddenly theinternet was filled with ‘That is what the Bond fans want to see,’. I created a demand for that that did not exist whatsoever before. So at least the director should have called me up and said, ‘Hey thanks.’Q: What movies really inspire you?A: I would say, ‘Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein’ because I saw thatwhen I was a little boy and it was my favourite movie at that time. Part ofthe reason was the combination of genres, the fact that my favourite typesof movies – comedies and horror films – were together. The Abott andCostello stuff is pretty funny, and when Frankenstein’s monster shows upit’s pretty scary. I didn’t know I was making genre distinctions when I wasfive, but I was! But that’s what’s I have been doing my whole career, mixinggenres together. I would put ‘Taxi Driver’ as one of those films. You can’tquite boil ‘Taxi Driver’s’ power down to one or two sentences but I will sayit is probably the most novelistic, complex character study for my money inthe history of cinema. It’s only in novels where you find a charactertreated like that. But at the same time, it’s a very entertaining movie.There are laughs all through ‘Taxi Driver’. He pulls it off, it’s amazing. Andthe last movie, as I always say, is ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’.Q: You are planning a war movie next, are there any genres that don’t appeal to you? A: I don’t like everything. I like historical movies, but I am not a fan ofthe costume drama. Even though I have seen a few that I liked. actually,after making fun of James Ivory for so long, I thought that ‘The Golden Bowl’was a really good movie. It was very intriguing. But that’s one of thegenres I don’t like. Another genre I have no respect for is the biopic; theyare just big excuses for actors to win Oscars. Even the most interestingperson – if you are telling their life from beginning to end, it’s going tobe a f**king boring movie. If you do this, you have to do comic-bookversions of their whole life. For instance, when you make a movie aboutElvis Presley, you don’t make a movie about his whole life: make a movieabout one day. Make a movie about the day Elvis Presley walked into SunRecords. Make a movie about the whole day before he walked into Sun Records,and the movie ends when we walks through that door. That’s a movie.