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8 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Quentin Tarantino

by George Curmit

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Film & TV

Ahead of Tarantino’s latest Western ‘Hateful Eight’, here’s a few facts about the director that prove his personality is just as quirky as his films.

He got his start as an Elvis impersonator on The Golden Girls

Around the time he was eighteen years old, Tarantino claimed that he “got way into rockabilly music…I was like the second coming of Elvis Presley. I dyed my hair black”. It’s therefore an ironic fact that the director’s first bit role was that of impersonating The King himself. Though he’s not even in the first row of Elvis entertainers on the episode, he ironically stands out due to his complete lack of coordination in dancing as well as his plainclothes interpretation of Elvis. His choice to wear something other than a rhinestone jumpsuit was deliberate, as he said in a 1994 interview: “I wore my own clothes, because I was, like, the Sun Records Elvis. I was the hillbilly cat Elvis. I was the real Elvis; everyone else was Elvis after he sold out”. At any rate, Tarantino was determined to make his moment as The King memorable, and memorable it was.

He has been in prison

Unfortunately for Tarantino, criminal activities are not something unique to the characters in his movies. In his younger years, the director was first arrested for stealing a book from a Californian bookstore, which ironically ended up being a crime novel. He later racked up over $7000 in parking ticket fines and neglected to pay them. “I was actually in jail three different times for tickets. I was picking up some dialogue, but I wasn’t in there for that. It was easier when you’re broke to do the time,” Tarantino admitted about the incidents. At one point, he served 10 days in a Los Angeles jail for the crime.

He hates sports

Although he is a die-hard fan of pop culture paraphernalia, including props, posters, and toys of all sorts, there are few things that Tarantino hates more than sports. By his own admission, he’ll never play poker, and you’ll never catch him in a pool hall or a sporting event. “To me, torture would be watching sports on television,” he said in an interview. “If I go to Dodger Stadium, that’s ok, because the game is secondary to the beer and the environment. One thing I don’t understand is that average American movie-goers cannot watch a movie for three hours, yet they’ll watch a stupid, boring, horrific football game for four hours. Now, that is boredom at its most colossal”.

He uses the film Rio Bravo to assess possible girlfriends

You might have seen Rio Bravo, the 1959 Western classic produced and directed by Howard Hawks and starring film legends John Wayne and Dean Martin. What you may not have heard about is Tarantino’s interesting use of the film: he uses it to test compatibility between him and potential flames. At a 2007 Cannes screening of the American western, the director confessed that he always tested a new girlfriend “by taking her to see ‘Rio Bravo’ — and she’d better like it!”.

His first exposure to the movie was at the age of 5, when he viewed it with his great-grandmother, and ever since then, he claims to almost get “a headache just even trying to contemplate how many times” he has seen it. Why the admiration? In addition to calling it one of the greatest Westerns, the greatest Hawks films, and the greatest John Wayne films, it is also one of the “great hangout movies,” referring to the hanging out that you do with the characters when viewing the movie.

He appeared in a Japanese commercial

Tarantino is only one of many celebrities to appear in a series of commercials for Japanese mobile phone manufacturer SoftBank, starring talking dogs and Tarantino as Uncle Tara-chan, a samurai-loving relative of the family in the commercial. Rocking a black Japanese kimono, he seems to channel his inner Elvis, showcasing similar moves to his first television appearance mentioned earlier in this article.

Although clips from the new commercial were screened at a press conference, the director himself didn’t appear. Still, Aya Ueto, a popular Japanese singer and actress, told reporters that he “was very energetic and did a lot of adlibbing,” and also that working with him was “truly interesting.” Whether those comments are compliments, I’ll leave up to you.

He is an honorary Viking

Tarantino can finally add Viking to his list of many achievements. During a trip to Iceland in 2005 with fellow director Eli Roth for the world premiere of Hostel at the Iceland Film Festival, Quentin Tarantino was made an honorary Viking at Viking Village by entrepreneur, actor, and producer Eythor Gudjonsson. During the ceremony, he received the Icelandic name Quentin Conniesson.

He never went to film school

For someone that’s been so important to cinema and who has contributed to the medium with entries that are now regarded as classics, it’s surprising that he never actually went to film school; in fact, he even dropped out of high school. He remarked that “when people ask me if I went to film school, I tell them, ‘No, I went to films.’ When you have tunnel vision, when you have very limited interests, you know, you better pick up a lot. I wasn’t interested in school. I wasn’t interested in sports. I was only interested in movies.”

His compulsive movie-watching habits and job at a video store all resulted in both a love for movies and a desire to create them. During a master class at Cannes, he also commented that “trying to make a feature film yourself with no money is the best film school you can do”.

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He detests violence in real life

Noted as one of the most violent directors in modern film history, Tarantino commented at a press conference by saying: “In movies, violence is cool. I like it” and once revealed to the British Academy of Film and Television that “if a guy gets shot in the stomach and he’s bleeding like a stuck pig then that’s what I want to see — not a man with a stomach ache and a little red dot on his belly.”

But the director also commented to the Orlando Sentinel: “I have a big problem with real-life violence.”

When presented with the seeming contradiction, however, he justified in an interview with the Observer: “To say that I get a big kick out of violence in movies and can enjoy violence in movies but find it totally abhorrent in real life – I can feel totally justified and totally comfortable with that statement. I do not think that one is a contradiction of the other. Real life violence is real life violence. Movies are movies…It’s not the same thing at all

Image Credit: Sipa / Rex Shutterstock

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About the Author

George Curmit

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