I Talked to Quentin Tarantino About Making the Hateful Eight
....and he thinks digital film projection is a lot like watching 'television in public' and that 'The Intern'—yes, the Anne Hathaway rom-com—was one of the top films of 2015.
Quentin Tarantino sits in a rarified position of being a modern auteur who has massive commercial appeal. Only he, and maybe Scorsese, can simultaneously release a film into multiplexes and independent theatres, while taking out the Palme d'Or at Cannes. Even for a director who has ascended to iconic status, this is no easy feat in an era dominated by director-for-hire studio blockbusters.
As Tarantino's eighth film—the aptly titled The Hateful Eight—is released around Australia, VICE sat down with the director and cinephile. We talked about writing the gritty Western, why digital film projection is a lot like "television in public," and learned that The Intern—yes the Anne Hathaway/Robert De Niro e-commerce rom-com—was one of his top three films of 2015.
VICE: Thank you for making The Hateful Eight. I'm wondering how different the shooting script was to the original "Tarantino All-Stars" read-through you staged in early 2014?
Quentin Tarantino: It's quite different. The final chapter is very, very, very different. I did three separate drafts and the first draft of the script was what we read at that staging. For instance, there's a whole thing in the movie about a letter from Abraham Lincoln that keeps showing up. In the live read there was only two letter appearances and the final film obviously has that third appearance.
Most of the cast in the film were at that original reading. Do you write with actors in mind or are you holding casting sessions and doing chemistry reads?Well, I don't hold chemistry reads in the traditional Hollywood sense. I guess I would if I felt it was super important.
It's rather cringe terminology, "chemistry read."
Yeah but having said that, for Inglourious Basterds, I was casting in France for the Shoshanna character and I did have the actresses read against the already-cast Daniel Brühl, just to see if there was some kind of "chemistry" going on. But to tell you the honest truth it's a mixed bag. In the case of Django Unchained I absolutely wrote Stephen for Sam Jackson and Dr. Schultz for Christoph Waltz. But when it came to Calvin Candie, I actually wrote him to be a much older man and then Leonardo [DiCaprio] said he was interested, so we sat down together and talked about it and I went home and asked myself, can this work as a younger person? What do I lose and gain by changing that? I figured out it was mostly gain but that's not typical for me. It's the actors job to change and fit into the character.
In the case of The Hateful Eight, in particular because of the way the story is, I wanted actors who I already knew were good with dense material and had a really good facility with my dialogue because there's so much of it this film. The exception is the Daisy Domergue character. I didn't have any actor's plus' or limitations in mind.
They're telling me I've got to finish but I have to ask what your favourite films of the past year have been?
That's too bad I'm enjoying this conversation but my favourite films? That's harder to answer in a year when I've been working on my film as I don't see as much. Three films come to mind and one of them is going to surprise you, so I'll reveal that last! Mad Max Fury Road is up there and a movie I really enjoyed, but is by no means perfect. That was It Follows. Then the aforementioned surprise is The Intern.
Wait, the Nancy Meyers film?
Yes the Anne Hathaway, Robert De Niro one. I just really enjoyed it.
I didn't expect that. Anyway, this was your eighth film, please don't stop when you hit your tenth!
Ha, firstly I have to make it to 10!