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Interview with Eli Roth on Quentin Tarantino's 'Inglourious Basterds'


Eli Roth and Brad Pitt

Eli Roth and Brad Pitt in 'Inglourious Basterds.'

© The Weinstein Company
Writer/director Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, Hostel) takes a turn in front of the camera with a co-starring role in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds. Roth plays a member of the Basterds, an elite squad whose primary objective is to kill Nazis by any means necessary (the bloodier, the better).

Eli Roth on staying in character with Brad Pitt:

"We stayed in character the whole time. We were having so much fun being those guys and it gave us permission to behave like that all the time, like a dirty, sweaty, smelly bastard. And Quentin was always laughing. He's going, 'This is so cool, man. I had these guys in my head for eight years and now I get to hang out with them and have a beer. This is fun.'"

On how much the Basterds are in Inglourious Basterds:

"I think people's enjoyment of the movie is directly related to what their expectations are. It's a very tricky balance to sell them, a very fine line, a tricky balance to sell this movie because it's impossible to encapsulate what the film is in a 30 second or one minute TV spot. You can't explain it really, even in a five minute conversation. It's one of these things you have to experience. It's so many different things. It's all these different stories intertwining that I tell people, 'The Basterds are like a third of the movie. It's about Shoshana, it's about Landa, it's about all these different scenes. The Basterds are just kind of a thread. Even Landa's really more of a thread than the Basterds are between them."

On filming Nation's Pride, the movie the Nazis watch during a key scene in Inglourious Basterds:

"It was so much fun doing Nation's Pride. When Quentin put me in the role, I said, 'Look, there's storylines I'm not in. I don't want to come back to L.A. I'm there for you.' The whole time I was like, 'Give me a second camera.' He told me about Nation's Pride. I said, 'I know I can give him something that no one else can give. I'm going to give him a World War II propaganda movie that will be big and it will feel like a big, big war movie. Give me 20 guys and two cameras and two days and my brother Gabriel out there as my second unit director. The two of us will bang out battle footage.'"

Does it a director like Quentin to see him as an actor:

"100%, but it also took a director like Tarantino to see me as an artist. You know, Cabin Fever was popular with fans, with internet fans but with the Hollywood community, they didn't really know what to make of it. They sort of ghettoized me into kind of like 'Oh, that’s what he does. He makes splatter movies.' Whereas Quentin said, “No, no, no, no, no. You guys don't even get how talented this guy is. This is someone who is a new voice in cinema. This isn't someone who's making splatter movies. This is someone who has come along to plant his flag and say, 'This is who I am and this is what I'm doing' and to help move horror forward. This is a new voice in cinema. This is my favorite new director.'"

"He talked about me that way in his Premiere interview for Kill Bill. That was a huge, huge, huge deal. That again started another wave of enthusiasm and made people look at me differently. When I made Hostel, that was Quentin coming off of Kill Bill. It wasn't like, 'Oh, Eli's making a violent movie.' It's like somehow Quentin basically, putting his name on it and being part of it, made everybody look at it differently in the way that Peter Jackson giving me the quote made people look at Cabin Fever differently."

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