Quentin Tarantino on 'The Hateful Eight,' His Competition, and the Future of Film

What’s in store for Quentin Tarantino? The director, screenwriter, producer and actor is currently in the middle of finalizing his upcoming film The Hateful Eight, a Western-styled movie about eight strangers who get stuck in a saloon during a blizzard while traveling through a mountain pass. As one of the top writers in film today, Tarantino is about to release his eighth movie, yet the 52-year-old director hopes to retire after releasing a total of 10 films in his lifetime, including the possibility of the release of Kill Bill 3New York Magazine interviewed Tarantino for its August 24 issue about his thoughts on The Hateful Eight and its cast, his call to address white supremacy, his support for Obama, his favorite TV shows, and his opinion on the future of the film industry. An excerpt of the interview can be found below, but you can read a preview of the article on VultureThe Hateful Eight hits theaters across America December 25.

What does Hateful Eight say about the 2010s?

I’m not trying to make Hateful Eight contemporary in any way, shape, or form. I’m just trying to tell my story. It gets to be a little too much when you try to do that, when you try to make a hippie Western or try to make a counterculture Western… Finally, the issue of white supremacy is being talked about and dealt with. And it’s what the movie’s about.

Django Unchained had Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio. Inglourious Basterds had Brad Pitt. Was there ever pressure to get a bigger star for The Hateful Eight?

No. If there’s a part that a huge star could play, and that star were interested in playing it, there would definitely be pressures to consider them. And I have no problem doing that, unless I don’t particularly like that actor. But just because somebody’s a star doesn’t necessarily mean my fans or their fans want to see us work together. There is such a thing as my kind of actor, and how well they pull off my dialogue is a very, very important part of it. This is a movie where a Brad or a Leo wouldn’t work. It needs to be an ensemble where nobody is more important than anybody else.

You’ve mentioned you like to play your audience like a conductor does an orchestra. As audiences become more sophisticated and accustomed to your style, does that become harder?

Frankly, sophisticated audiences are not a problem. Dumb audiences are a problem. But I think audiences are getting more sophisticated — that’s just a product of time. The trick is to try to be way ahead of that curve, so they’re not chuckling at your movies 20 years down the line. With Pulp Fiction, people were like, “Wow, I have never seen a movie like that before. A movie can do that?” I don’t think that’s the case anymore. I’m not talking ridiculously over anyone’s head anymore. I think people watched Django and Inglourious Basterds and thought they were really out there, but they got it. They felt themselves on solid ground. It wasn’t just, “What the fuck was that?” And people understand what I’m doing with genre. They’re not befuddled. They don’t think I’m doing it wrong. They get it.

Since you’re good at it, do you feel any responsibility to write roles for women outside of the typical Hollywood demographic?

I don’t have any responsibility at all. I’ve been making movies for 20 years, and as great as some of those decisions I made in the first ten years were, I probably wouldn’t make them again… Back then, I got much more excited by cool casting. I liked the idea of taking an actor I’ve always liked but wasn’t being used much anymore and putting him in the movie and showing people what he could do… Now it’s all about my characters. I actually think my characters are going to be one of my biggest legacies after I’m gone. So I have no obligation whatsoever other than to just cast it right.

On Oscar-nominated blockbusters:

The movies that used to be treated as independent movies, like the Sundance movies of the ’90s — those are the movies that are up for Oscars now. They’re good, but I don’t know if they have the staying power that some of the movies of the ’90s and the ’70s did. I don’t know if we’re going to be talking about The Town or The Kids Are All Right 20 or 30 years from now. Half of these Cate Blanchett movies — they’re all just like these arty things. I’m not saying they’re bad movies, but I don’t think most of them have a shelf life. But The Fighter or American Hustle — those will be watched in 30 years… I could be completely wrong about that. I’m not Nostradamus.

Do you stream movies?

No, I don’t. My TV isn’t connected to my computer. It’s just a generational thing, but that doesn’t mean I’m not depressed by it. The idea that somebody’s watching my movie on a phone, that’s very depressing to me… I can’t even make myself watch a movie on a laptop. I’m old-school. I read the newspaper. I read magazines. I watch the news on television. I watch CNBC a lot.

Do you still write your scripts by hand?

Let me ask you a question: If you were going to try to write a poem, would you do it on a computer? You don’t need technology for poetry.

What were your favorite movies this year?

I loved Kingsman. I really liked It Follows.

Who do you see as your competition right now?

This might come across as egotistical, but I don’t really feel in competition with anybody anymore. I’m in competition with myself. The last time that I felt competitive was when I was doing Kill Bill and my competition was The Matrix Reloaded. I saw [it] at the Chinese Theatre the day it opened, and I walked out of the cinema singing that Jay Z song [S. Carter]: “S-dot-Carter / Y’all must try harder / Competition is nada.” I was like, Bring it the fuck on. I was worried about that? Holy shit.

What TV shows do you watch?

The last two shows that I watched all the way were Justified and How I Met Your Mother. I tried to watch the first episode of season one [of True Detective], and I didn’t get into it at all. I thought it was really boring. Now, the HBO show I loved was Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom. That was the only show that I literally watched three times… Then after it was over, I’d watch it all over again. Then I would usually end up watching it once during the week, just so I could listen to the dialogue one more time.

You’ve won two Oscars for writing. Does it bug you that you’ve never won for directing?

No. I would have liked to have won Best Director for Inglourious Basterds, but I’ve got time. And I’m very, very happy with my writing Oscars. I will brag about this: I’m one of five people who have won two Original Screenplay Oscars. The other four are Woody Allen, Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, and Paddy Chayefsky. I actually didn’t know that until somebody wrote it on a website. I went, “Holy shit!” Those are the greatest writers in the history of Hollywood. Now, Woody Allen has us all beat. He’s won three, so if I win three, I’ll tie with Woody.

You’ve talked about retiring after ten movies. If so, you have two left. What would you like to accomplish with them?

It would be wonderful to make my tenth movie my best movie — go out with a big bang, or with a small chamber piece after a big bang. I think about that every once in a while, but it’s not a real consideration. I just make one thing at a time. There are a few movies I’d like to do… I’ve got to leave myself open for the right story that talks to me.

Is Kill Bill 3 also off the table?

No, it’s not off the table, but we’ll see.

What do you say about the criticism of your use of violence and the N-word?

Social critics don’t mean a thing to me. It’s really easy to ignore them, because I believe in what I’m doing 100 percent. So any naysayers for the public good can just fuck off. They might be a drag for a moment, but after that moment is over, it always ends up being gasoline to my fire.

Author: Ashleigh Kim