Born in Knoxville, Tennessee, on March 27, 1963 to an Italian father and a mother of Irish and Cherokee extraction, Quentin Jerome Tarantino took a most unorthodox approach to showbiz. He dropped out of high school at 15 to pursue moviemaking but it would take some time to realize that dream. The closest he got to Hollywood for years was a minimum-wage gig as a clerk at a video rental store in L.A. where he became known for making recommendations to appreciative customers.
He finally began his meteoric rise in 1992 with the release of Reservoir Dogs, following-up that impressive directorial debut a couple of years later with Pulp Fiction, the seven-time Academy Award-nominee for which he won an Oscar in the Best Original Screenplay category. Since then, his storybook career has included such critically-acclaimed films as Jackie Brown, Kill Bill 1 & 2, and a couple of collaborations with Robert Rodriguez, Sin City and Grindhouse.
Here, Quentin talks about his new film, Inglourious Basterds, which is based upon a screenplay he started writing over a decade ago. The World War II action flick stars Brad Pitt as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army who leads a squad of Jewish soldiers on a mission behind enemy lines in France to go hunting for Nazis.
Hi Quentin, thanks for the time. I really appreciate it.
Oh, it’s my pleasure, I was psyched to do this especially after I read some of the comments you made after reading the script. It was a real phantasmagorical collection of references.
That was an interesting experience. This is my first time reading a script instead of seeing the movie before conducting an interview.
Oh, that’s cool.
How does it feel to have finished Inglourious Basterds, finally, given that you’ve been working on it for over a decade?
It’s a little surreal, to tell you the truth, after having the project in my mind for such a long time. I had scenes written for it but for years it was always just kind of out there. And at one point I even considered putting it aside, thinking maybe I’d grown out of it or moved past it. But then I realized that I’d invested too much into it, and that even if I never made the movie, I at least had to finish writing it just so I could get this mountain out of the way.
One thing that’s different though is that opposed to thinking about it as this long-gestating piece that was written over years and years, the truth is I only came up with a lot of the characters and the first two chapters of the final script way back when. Otherwise, it has a whole different storyline. What kept preventing me from making the movie earlier was that it was just too big and too involved, almost like a mini-series. And just before I turned it into a mini-series, I decided to take one more crack at trying to make it as a movie.
That’s when I came up with a new storyline about the premiere of a German propaganda film which I completed about a year ago in just seven months. As a matter of fact, on the cover page of your copy of the original script you can see that I literally put the pen down on July 2, 2008. So, the final draft was a weird combination of this long-gestating project and something I had never worked at with more intense momentum.
Since Brad Pitt’s character, Aldo, is from Tennessee and part-Cherokee, like yourself, I was wondering whether he was modeled on you?
He’s definitely modeled after me. I probably would’ve wanted to play the character, if I had finished writing the script way back when, in the ‘90s. But now, I don’t want to act at all.