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Quentin Tarantino Talks About 'Inglourious Basterds'

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Quentin Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino on the set of 'Inglourious Basterds.'

© The Weinstein Company
"One of the things I felt really happy about with that [opening sequence featuring Waltz as Landa] is I've always felt that as far as my writing was concerned, as far as a given scene, because there is this weird aspect that's my scenes a lot of times are meant to stand alone the way you would listen to a Greatest Hits album, say," explained Quentin Tarantino. "In that self-aggrandizing analogy, I would definitely say my greatest hit was The Sicilian speech in True Romance. That was my best scene. I'm not saying it's the best scene the way it works in the movie, but as far as just a standalone scene, that was probably my best work. And I knew I'd never top that. I'd come close, but I never went, 'Mmmm...' When I wrote the opening scene in this movie with the Jew Hunter and the French Farmer, I go, 'I think I've finally topped it.' That's up for you to decide. I think I finally kind of kicked it up."

Tarantino believes finding the right actors for Inglourious Basterds was his most difficult casting assignment yet. "It was a tough delivery, but we had a beautiful baby. But it was very tough, and also I was very precious about the casting. Well, I wasn't precious about the casting, I was precious about my characters. I really wanted to make sure that whoever I cast, they were the perfect person to play this and can play the different facets that are involved in the character. But also, I needed a certain type of actor. I almost always have great situations, but every once in a while I'll cast an actor and realize they're not my type. Hopefully you don't notice that, all right, but I notice that."

"Somebody would say, 'Well, what's your type?' Well, theater goes a long way to helping it out, all right? You have to be both physical and you have to be verbal. It should go without saying, but it doesn't go without saying that obviously you need to have a facility with dialogue if you're gonna do my movies," explained Tarantino. "But you've got to be hungry for it. It's not like, 'Oh man, I've gotta learn this three page thing.' It's gotta be, 'Oh man, I get three pages, all right, of Quentin's stuff!' All right, you know? And it's not this mountain you're trying to climb. You're dominating and, 'I'm gonna own this, this is mine.' And you take it and you make it your own, but also there's something else. You've gotta be smart to do my stuff. Harvey Keitel told me, 'You need smart actors.'"

If Tarantino Were Starting Out Today...

So, let's say Tarantino was just now starting out as a filmmaker. What films made over the past 20 years might serve as inspiration? "I wrote down my top 20 movies of the last 17 years, since I started directing," replied Tarantino. "I'm happy to say that it was hard...not hard to come up with 20, like hard to come up with 20. It was hard to break it down to 20, which I was happy to find. I wanted to have at least 30, all right, but then I had to make some tough decisions. But there’s a lot of terrific filmmakers out now doing wonderful work. The one that always immediately comes to my mind, I think, is my biggest contemporary, all right, or colleague would be Paul Thomas Anderson. We're really good friends and we have a very kind of artist romantic relationship. I feel I'm Marlon Brando to his Montgomery Clift. But there is a reality. Brando was better because Montgomery Clift was out there. Same thing, Clift was better because he knew f--kin' Brando was already there, all right?"

"I remember something when I met Brian De Palma who was always a hero of mine. I don’t have a rivalry with Paul, but if he puts it up there, well then I've got to go there. And if he goes like that, then I've got to go like that. He was talking about he had kind of a friendly rivalry with [Martin] Scorsese. He was talking about while he was shooting Scarface, he's doing this big epic with [Al] Pacino, doing all this sh-t. During one of his days off, he goes and sees Raging Bull. Just the opening shot, that classical music, it's the ring and the slow motion of Jake La Motta just dancing. He's just like, 'Ugh, there's always Scorsese. No matter what you do and how good you think you are, there's always Scorsese staring back at you.'"

"But, you know, the directors that I really admired over the last couple of decades, literally it would be Paul, it would be Rick Linklater, Robert Rodriguez, not just because they're friends. Partly we're friends because I respond to their aesthetic. I'm not friends with David Fincher, but I love his work. And also, I think right now, the most exciting cinema in the world is coming out of Korea. Bong Joon-ho and Park Chan-wook, they're amazing."

That said, Tarantino credits an American filmmaker with making his personal favorite movie of 2009 thus far. "Actually, I just saw Funny People. I loved Funny People, by the way. It's my favorite movie this year, actually. I think it's a true auteur piece of work."

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