Quentin Tarantino has been making the media rounds to hype up his novelization of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, so when the controversial filmmaker found himself on Joe Rogan‘s podcast Wednesday morning, he took the opportunity to address some frequent criticisms lobbed his way.
For starters, Tarantino continues to catch a lot of flack from Bruce Lee fans who were upset by his depiction in OUATIH, in which he loses a fight to stuntman Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). Tarantino said he “can understand his daughter having a problem with it, it’s her fucking father, I get that. But anybody else [can] go suck a dick.”
Tarantino explained that Cliff tricked Bruce by lulling him into a false sense of security during their first scrap, knowing he could successfully counter Bruce’s moves when the martial artist came at him the second time. Tarantino acknowledged that Bruce would’ve destroyed Cliff in a proper martial arts competition, but he believes that given Cliff’s background as “a killer who killed men in a jungle, he’d kill him” in a no-holds-barred fight. I’m inclined to agree with Tarantino’s line of thinking on this matter. While Lee was an extraordinary fighter, I don’t think he was indestructible or undefeatable or anything like that, and Cliff Booth was a pretty tough guy in his own right. I’m not saying Cliff would’ve won a knock-down, drag-out fight with Lee, but he could’ve.
Next, Tarantino addressed accusations of misogyny running rampant throughout his work, especially in The Hateful Eight, in which Kurt Russell‘s John Ruth beats the hell out of his female prisoner, Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh).
“It’s bullshit. There’s nothing that happens to her that couldn’t have happened to a man in that same situation. If instead of Daisy Domergue, it’s Big Bill Shelly, a man who’s 250 pounds and a big Grizzly Adams beard, you wouldn’t think shit about Kurt Russell smacking him all the time. Well, I’m having it happen to a girl who’s just as bad as Big Bill Shelly because I’m not playing fucking favorites. It makes it a little harder to watch, but I’m down with it being a little harder to watch, good, it’s a fucking rough movie. It’s supposed to hurt,” said Tarantino, who is absolutely right here. Daisy Domergue is a notorious criminal who is every bit as dangerous as any of the men inside Minnie’s Haberdashery, and the movie is set in 1877, so it’s merely realistic that a man like Ruth wouldn’t think twice about raising his hand to a woman. Tarantino isn’t condoning it, he’s simply presenting the situation as it would’ve likely unfolded back then.
Tarantino faced similar criticism on Once Upon a Time in Hollywood given that film’s hyperviolent ending that sees Cliff attacking female members of the Manson Family, including Susan Atkins (Mikey Madison) and Patricia Krenwinkel (Madisen Beaty). Rogan said that Tarantino’s reputation as a major artist allowed him to get away with the brutal violence in that scene, to which Tarantino reminded him Cliff and Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) were acting in self-defense.
“We are talking about three of the bloodiest, most violent killers of the 20th century. Their own madness grandfathers their face being bashed in.” There’s no question that the violent denouement of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood can be tough to watch, but knowing what we know about the real-life murder of Sharon Tate and her unborn child, it seems like a warranted bit of wish-fulfillment.
Naturally, Tarantino was asked about his retirement plans and his relationship with former studio head and convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein, who he referred to as a “fucked up father figure.” Though Tarantino had heard of Harvey “making unwanted advances,” as had “everybody who was in his orbit,” he wishes he “had sat [Weinstein] down and had the uncomfortable conversation.” Tarantino, whose career will always be linked to Weinstein and the old Miramax, lamented that the entire situation made him “sad.”
While Rogan and HBO talk show host Bill Maher have each told Tarantino that he’d be silly to retire at the top of his game, the Oscar-winning filmmaker insists “that’s the perfect time,” preferring to go out on top like Jerry Seinfeld rather than dragging out his career. Tarantino said he wants to write two more books (including a possible novelization of Reservoir Dogs) and maybe adapt some of his movies (like Reservoir Dogs and The Hateful Eight) for the stage before he turns his attention to what he claims will be his 10th and final film.
Whatever that project turns out to be, every actor in Hollywood will surely be clamoring for a part in it, and Tarantino will have his pick of the litter, though he warned agents not to jerk him around by offering a cautionary tale of sorts. Apparently, Tarantino had planned to cast Mickey Rourke in Death Proof instead of Kurt Russell, but when Rourke’s agent didn’t respond to Tarantino’s offer by the director’s deadline, he was forced to move on.
“The agent was fucking around with us. I [said] ‘Here’s one of the offers, you have until 9 p.m. Friday night to accept or reject.’ And they let the deadline blow by.” Rourke was interested in the role, and since Tarantino always gets his man, Rourke’s agents figured they had him over a barrel and could negotiate for more money.
“The agents were like, ‘oh they need him, so we can do anything we want.’ Whenever agents treat me like that I pull the plug. They’re arsonists disguised as firemen,” said Tarantino, who is surely used to dealing with even bigger stars and agents, all of whom likely learned a valuable lesson there. It’s a shame because Rourke would’ve been excellent as Stuntman Mike, though you won’t hear me arguing about Russell’s chilling take on the psychotic driver.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood earned 10 Oscar nominations, winning for its stunning production design and Pitt’s excellent supporting performance. The film grossed $374 million worldwide and Tarantino’s 400-page novelization, which reveals what really happened to Cliff’s wife, is now available for purchase.
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