A brief chat with Quentin Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino quickly chats to us about The Hateful Eight and Jason Statham...

Den of Geek doesn’t usually accept five minute interview slots, as it’s not really enough time to conduct an interview in. But when the opportunity for this one arose, we decided to make an exception. In this case, I can do something with five minutes. Aren’t five Tarantino minutes the equivalent to ten minutes with most other interview subjects? And, most importantly, how else are we going to find out his favourite Jason Statham film?

So we sat down with the director, and someone with a stopwatch who would make sure we didn’t run over our five minutes. Here’s how it went.

Quentin Tarantino: Is that a vintage Ninja Turtle shirt?

Den of Geek: It’s a new shirt, but it is the original comic book art on there.

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Is the guy who created it, is he still married to that porn actress? Julie Strain?

Umm, no. He’s married to someone else now.

Kevin Eastman.

Yeah. He’s been working with Robert Rodriguez recently. Oh, we should do an interview though. I have so little time.

It’s fine. It starts now, officially. (*signals to person with stopwatch*)

I saw The Hateful Eight and loved it. Like all of your films, it has a lot of intricate story strands. How do write something like that? Do you outline a lot? And how long does it take to produce the script?

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I tried to do this one in a different way than I had done my other scripts before. Normally I write them, basically, it can go anywhere, depending on how much I’m living life at the time. Six months to nine months, more or less. Somewhere in between there. Maybe it’s gotten a little less as time has gone on, so more in the six month variety.

But what I try to do is, I kind of write them like a big novel. And at a certain point I’m expecting the characters to take it, as opposed to having this outline that I’m gonna hold to rigidly. I want the characters to dictate themselves. But at the same time, I’m writing a genre piece, so there is a bit of an outline going on. Like in the case of Kill Bill, while a lot of things were open, I would assume that probably she’ll kill Bill at the very end. But how exactly she is and how we get there is a little bit open to conjecture and will-o’-the-wisp, to some degree.

But I usually write them as these big novels; I start at the beginning and I work all the way to the end and I get to the end and that’s pretty much it. Other than some touch ups along the way, or little tweaks. This one I did differently, differently than I’ve ever done before. It was an idea of experimenting with a new writing style, to make sure that I spent time with the material. So I decided to write three different drafts of the piece. Just the idea of telling the story three different times and seeing what that did to the ending. And I didn’t have a mandate to deal with everything at once. Like, for instance, in the movie there is a Lincoln letter that ends up playing out throughout the piece. But in the first draft it was only brought up in the stage coach, and I didn’t deal with it. I knew I wanted to do more with it but I wasn’t ready in the first draft to do that. I wanted to just let it evolve naturally. I actually really liked writing this way, I thought this was a fun way to do it.

What would you double bill The Hateful Eight with, out of your own movies?

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Out of my movies?

Yeah.

Well, if they weren’t so bloody long, Django Unchained. I think they fit really good together. But at the same time, it fits just as equally with Reservoir Dogs. I was thinking, not this conscious ‘I’m going to do a western Reservoir Dogs’, but once I started getting going on it, I knew ‘Well, it’s kind of like a western Reservoir Dogs’. But I had no problem with that.

There was even a bit of a full circle quality to it. There’s a bit of a 90s throwback to this movie, both where I’m coming from on it, and I’m a bit of a 90s throwback and so is a lot of the cast. And I thought that was an interesting thing.

So, when you’re putting this one together, did you know who was going to make it to the final showdown?

No, I didn’t at all, frankly. That was part of it, was to not know. There’s a big mystery, we don’t want to say exactly what that mystery is, but there’s a big mystery involved in the film, and I didn’t even know who the culprit was when it first happened. I wanted to discover, at least in that first draft, on my own. In the second draft, the people who ended up hanging out to the end were a different group. So I was very open with it.

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But you’re hitting on something very interesting. That was the reason I wanted to do three different drafts, is I didn’t just want to come to an end and say ‘Well that’s what the characters did and that’s the end’. I wanted to explore until I got to what I thought was the best ending. So the three different drafts had three different endings. And the last one seemed like the one.

Awesome. I think they’re just about to throw me out, can I just quickly…

(Now, the PR person with the stop watch was not happy for me to ‘just quickly’ anything. The stopwatch is not happy for me to ask another question. Disaster. There’s me, selling this on the basis of finding out QT’s favourite Statham film, and I’ve run out of time. However…)

Let him just do a quick one.

What is your favourite Jason Statham film?

Oh. That’s a pretty good question. I think it would have to be… let me think about that. It would have to be Snatch.

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(Then, as we were leaving, and after I had turned off my audio recorder, he shot me a quick footnote. Of the ones Statham leads, Crank.)

Quentin Tarantino, thank you very much.

The Hateful Eight is in UK cinemas from January 8th.