Quentin Tarantino Talks Duck Hunting With Spielberg and Directing His Final Movie in Stern Show Return
Legendary filmmaker sits with Howard on the heels of his new book, “Cinema Speculation”November 21, 2022
Hollywood icon Quentin Tarantino sat down with Howard on Tuesday for the first time since 2015. Needless to say, it’s been a busy seven years for the acclaimed writer, director, and producer, who since his last visit has married entertainer Daniella Pick, had two lovely children, and moved (part time) to Tel Aviv. His filmmaking career has been firing on all cylinders, too, with his most recent movie, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” earning close to $400 million worldwide and netting him and his cast and crew plenty of awards.
Tarantino was an open book during his conversation with Howard, which made sense considering he’d just recently published “Cinema Speculation,” his long-awaited first foray into nonfiction. Connecting with the Stern Show from SiriusXM’s studios in New York, Quentin discussed everything from his new family life and a star-studded duck hunting trip gone wonderfully right to his thoughts on the future of the movie industry. He also revealed new information about his 10th — and likely final film —and gave some hints about the kind of work he might embrace after retiring as a movie director. Despite being closer than ever to calling it quits, Quentin remained one of his own biggest fans.
“I love my movies. I’m making them for me, [and] everyone else is invited,” Tarantino told listeners with a laugh. “Any time my movies are on TV, I go, ‘Oh, hey!’ And [then] I’m watching ‘Jackie Brown.’”
“I think that’s such an honest answer,” Howard marveled.
So, which of Quentin’s nine films did he love most?
The filmmaker admitted his answer to that question had evolved. “For years … I’d say something like, ‘Well, they’re all like my children,’ … And then I would change it to, ‘Well, it kind of depends on when you ask me,’” he told Howard. “But [now] I really do think ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ is my best movie.”
The critics loved it, too, lauding the Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt flick with awards ranging from Best Movie at the Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice Awards to Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Actor (for Pitt) at the Oscars.
How a Tokyo Record Store Inspired ‘Django Unchained’
For Tarantino, the first step in writing a screenplay was nailing down the opening sequence. With “Django Unchained,” his 2012 Western starring Leonardo DiCaprio as a plantation owner and Jamie Foxx as a freed slave seeking revenge, the opening scene came into his head while he was promoting “Inglourious Basterds” in Japan.
“I was hipped to this magnificent store in Tokyo that sold soundtracks. They had a lot of great spaghetti western soundtracks … I bought so much. I just looked like a rich asshole,” he told Howard with a laugh. “I get back to my hotel room … and I’m just luxuriating in all this [Ennio] Morricone [and] Luis Bacalov spaghetti western music … I just sat down and out came that opening scene.”
“It was pretty much what’s in the movie,” he continued. “Then, when I finished, I [went], ‘Okay I guess this is what I’m doing now.’”
Considering the controversial subject matter, Howard wondered if his guest thought he could still make “Django Unchained” today.
“Yeah, I could … It’s not like the studio is gonna say no,” Quentin said, adding. “We had bad think pieces [in 2012], but bad think pieces are actually good. That means your movie is actually about something … You’re part of the zeitgeist.”
“No one remembers those fucking pieces,” he concluded. “They remember the conversation.”
Duck Hunting With Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis
In his new book, Quentin reveals Steven Spielberg’s 1975 blockbuster “Jaws” is one of seven perfect films which helped inspire him to become the filmmaker he is today. He heaped plenty of praise upon Spielberg on Tuesday morning and told Howard that, since making a name for himself, he’s become “very friendly” with the beloved director.
“I went duck hunting with Spielberg once … I was the new kid in town, and they were all really impressed with ‘Pulp Fiction,’” Tarantino said, explaining Steven and acclaimed screenwriter John Milius took him and “Forrest Gump” director Robert Zemeckis out hunting so they could bond before the upcoming award season. “’You and Bob Zemeckis are gonna be in competition the whole rest of this year, so before the competition starts it might be nice to all go off and do something together,’” Tarantino remembered Spielberg saying.
Quentin had a blast. “It was very nice,” he said. “What do you want to do with [‘Apocalypse Now’ writer] John Milius more than shoot ducks with a shotgun? Very little, man.”
He also recalled Spielberg dispensing helpful (and ultimately prescient) show business advice. “He’s talking to me very pragmatically. We’re walking through a forest and … he’s like, ‘So, here’s what’s going to happen at the Oscars,” Steven had told him. “I think it’s gonna be Bob who wins Best Picture … and Best Director … but I do think you’ll win Best Original Screenplay.’ And then he stopped, turned around and looked at me, and said, ‘Second movie. Little gold man. Not too bad.’”
How Dancing From Dusk Till Dawn Led to his True Romance
Quentin married Daniella Pick, daughter of late Israeli singer Svika Pick, in 2018, but the couple first met at a Tel Aviv nightclub in 2009 when the director was there promoting “Inglourious Basterds.” “We danced all night long … I mean, I had to throw my shirt away … because it was so stained,” he remembered of their night together. “I had never had that kind of evening before … she’s a fucking knockout.”
The two went their separate ways until years later, when Tarantino bumped into a family friend of Daniella’s on a cruise and couldn’t stop singing his former all-night dance partner’s praises. “I figure I’ll just say a bunch of nice things, this friend will go back home to Tel Aviv, will eventually bump into Daniella … that was the plan,” he admitted before noting things escalated much faster when the friend called the future Mrs. Tarantino from the ship. “She goes, ‘So, I just got through talking to Daniella and it turns out she just broke up with her boyfriend, so when you’re through with your cruise and you get back home, give Daniella a call.’”
After having three separate conversations in a short period of time — something that was rare for the filmmaker — the two got together without the pressure of expectations. “We decided, ‘Well, hey, let’s get together and no promises. We don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’m intrigued enough, and I would love to see you,’” he said before recalling they decided to meet in neutral territory — Paris. “We both went to Paris, and we’ve been together ever since.”
Renowned filmmaker Martin Scorsese memorably took superhero movies to task a few years back when insisting they weren’t true “cinema.” Tarantino told Howard he was hardly surprised. “He’s an old man,” he said of the 79-year-old “Raging Bull” and “Goodfellas” director. “You think Scorsese is gonna be into ‘Ant-Man [and] the Wasp’? He’s not gonna be!”
Despite being 20 years Scorsese’s junior, Quentin saw the director’s point. “I used to collect Marvel comic books. I loved Marvel comic books, and if all [these movies were] coming out in ’86, I would’ve been all down with it,” he said. “But they waited until I got too old.”
Things are different for the younger generations, of course, as Quentin realized during a recent conversation with a teenage film fan. “He was talking about how he saw the first ‘Iron Man’ when he was four or five. So, to him, Marvel movies and DC movies are movies, and there’s been actually almost no competition to show him that there could be anything else.”
Tarantino isn’t dying to make his own superhero movie for an altogether different reason: he prefers practical effects to the CGI commonly found in Marvel movies and franchises like “Star Wars” and “Transformers.”
“I’ve never really been a big ‘do a bunch of special effects later’ kind of guy … I come from the idea that if you didn’t shoot it on the day, it didn’t count … I work with make-up effects, and I work with animatronic effects. I have the best effects team in the world and … they’re gonna create it and we’re going to do it on stage. We’re gonna capture it on film, not give it to a bunch of dweebs to spend six months adding it in later.”
The Fateful 10
Howard and co-host Robin Quivers couldn’t let Quentin leave without getting more information on his tenth and final — if previous conversations with Howard were to be believed — directorial effort.
“You’re still sticking to the ten?” Robin asked him.
“Yes,” Tarantino said, explaining he didn’t wish to grow out of touch as he got older. “That happens to so many directors. That’s not gonna happen to me.”
“Would you do something else?” Quivers pressed.
“I could do a TV show, that’s a different story. I could write or direct a play,” Quentin offered. “That doesn’t count.”
It wasn’t all bad news for fans of Tarantino’s films, however, as he revealed he wouldn’t make his final movie until the industry sorted itself out. “[The business] is unrecognizable,” he told Howard, adding, “I’m going to make one more movie, but the thing is I’m not in any hurry now to write a screenplay for a motion picture because what does that even mean? What is a movie today? Is it just content on a streaming service? Did I do everything just to do that for my last movie?”
“Exactly what will happen with movies will remain to be seen,” Quentin concluded. “And I would like to know what [that] is before I do the next one.”
Quentin Tarantino’s book “Cinema Speculation” is available now.