Spending the past few years making a revisionist WWII picture, and a couple of vengeance westerns, it’s easy to forget that there is a significant portion of Quentin Tarantino‘s DNA that runs fairly geeky. And stopping by to chat with Nerdist recently, he got to really indulge in that part of his personality for a fascinating conversation that’s well worth a listen.
Across 80-minutes, Tarantino tackles a plethora of subjects (an animated prequel to “Kill Bill” plus his original, every-10-years- trilogy concept; a Knack musical cue that didn’t make it into “Pulp Fiction“; other “Grindhouse” ideas he had, and more) but perhaps the most fascinating involve three major properties.
The first is “Speed Racer,” and Tarantino admits he was not particularly a fan of what The Wachowskis came up with. However, he did read a version that he really enjoyed, which first put the name of a major filmmaker on his radar. “In the early ‘90s, Richard Donner was trying to produce a ‘Speed Racer’ movie, he didn’t want to direct it, and I had read the script,” he said. “And I really, really liked it. It was right after ‘Pulp Fiction.’ And the script was better than the movie they ended up doing, and it’s a different script entirely. But they really captured it, they really captured the comic book. You know who wrote it? J.J. Abrams…he cracked it.”
It’s a surprising reveal, but it’s interesting to note that Tarantino adds that he’s probably grown out of doing that kind of movie, just as he’s likely moved on from doing a Marvel property, something he eyed before “Pulp Fiction.”
“One of the outside projects that I considered doing was a Luke Cage movie,” he reveals. “Luke Cage was my hero when I was a kid collecting comic books. He was my favorite character, and I always made [the comics] into a movie in my head every time I [read] them.” However, what turned Tarantino off the project were his friends, who immediately started debating about who should play the lead role. The director liked Laurence Fishburne for the part, but his pals said Wesley Snipes had the proper build. And this superficial discussion turned Tarantino off the idea entirely, as he realized it wasn’t just his friends who would be scrutinizing the casting on such a surface level. He now says if he ever did a comic book movie, it would need to be something he came up with himself.
That being said, he’s not adverse to taking pre-existing material and making it cinematic. Asked if he would make a “Star Wars” movie, Tarantino says he’d be more interested in “Star Trek.” He liked the first Abrams joint, but not “Star Trek Into Darkness” (particularly the introduction of Khan), but he believes the original episodes have great stories worthy of the big screen.
“Some of those episodes are fantastic, and the only thing that limited them was their ‘60s budget and 8-day shooting schedule. And even having said that, they did a magnificent job. You could take some of the great, classic ‘Star Trek’ episodes and just easily expand them to 90 minutes or more. And really do some amazing stuff,” Tarantino enthused. “The obvious one would be ‘City On The Edge Of Forever,’ that’s what everyone would go to, but there’s a reason why everyone would go to that. It’s one of the classic stories of all time, and one of the great time travel stories. However, in thinking about that concept even further though, I think one of the best ‘Star Trek’ episodes ever written was for ‘Next Generation’…’Yesterday’s Enterprise.’ I actually think that is one of the great, not only space story, but the way it dealt with the mythology. That actually could bear a two-hour treatment.”
Take a listen to the full talk below — it’s a great one. And see “The Hateful Eight” when it arrives on Christmas Day in 70mm.