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Behind the Scenes of "Kill Bill" With Lawrence Bender

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Kill Bill movie

Uma Thurman and Lucy Liu fighting it out in Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill Vol. 1"

Miramax Films
Die-hard Quentin Tarantino fans are probably familiar with producer Lawrence Bender and the important role he played (and continues to play) in Tarantino’s success. For those not so intimately involved in the world of Tarantino films, it’s Lawrence Bender who was the force behind getting “Reservoir Dogs” made into the quality movie it evolved into with high caliber actors, headlined by Harvey Keitel.

The story goes that aspiring producer Bender met aspiring director Tarantino at a BBQ and after reading the “Reservoir Dogs” script, begged Tarantino for a chance to take his low-budget, black and white project and turn it into a real movie. Bender got Harvey Keitel to sign on and the rest is history. Since then, Bender has produced all of Tarantino’s movies (including Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Vol. 2) and as a producer, has been nominated for 19 Academy Awards.

INTERVIEW WITH LAWRENCE BENDER:

You’ve worked with Quentin Tarantino since the beginning. How would you describe the relationship you two have?
It’s sort of like a marriage in a sense where the relationship is greater than the sum of the individuals. I create the space for Quentin to see his vision through.

How did Quentin Tarantino initially approach you about "Kill Bill?"
Honestly, the first time I read the script, I thought it was really fun. I just sat there as a Quentin Tarantino fan, just reading that script. I’ll tell you, it’s a page-turner. It’s a wonderful script. Then the second time I read it, I read it as a way of [figuring out] how we were actually going to make this. We sat down to strategize about how we were going to put this big [project] together.

How close was that original “Kill Bill” script to what ended up on screen?
It’s pretty close. There were changes we made during production; he made a few changes. It’s probably 85-95% the same.

When you read it that very first time, you didn’t automatically assume it was going to be two movies?
Not really. I mean, I looked at it and it’s cut up in chapters. Quentin writes in chapters and so it naturally lent itself to the possibility of making it into two. But honestly, we didn’t really think about it until probably about a month before we wrapped. We started talking about it. We were saying, “We have so much good footage. Maybe we should make this into two movies.” Quentin came up with a way – like in an hour – on how to do it. Then we kind of just dropped it and finished shooting. About six weeks into editing the movie we called Harvey Weinstein in. We said, “Okay, let’s just watch the movie and be open to one way or the other. Is this the first half of a bigger movie or is it one movie unto itself?” Basically [audiences] will see pretty much what we saw there - only in a much better form. We all looked at each other and said, “That’s a movie.” We really felt like it was. We said, “Let’s look at what the first scene would be that we have from the next movie.” And that’s a great first scene.

Would it have been the same movie had you not been able to do a “Volume 2?” Could you have gotten the story out in just one single film?
You know, it’s one of those creative things where it just kind of evolved. It’s sort of like saying, “Well, if I had married somebody else, what would THAT child be like?” It’s just the way it came out and the way it organically evolved.

Page 2 - Lawrence Bender on the Challenges of Bringing "Kill Bill" to the Screen and the Evolution of Quentin Tarantino

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