At this point, the pre-release hullaballoo surrounding Quentin Tarantino’s intimate new snow-speckled Western “The Hateful Eight” threatens to overshadow the promise of the film itself. Whether it’s the director’s decision to shoot his eighth outing on 65mm film and release it roadshow-style in 70mm Panavision, his recent controversial remarks about Disney, or the string of colorful, arrogant, and impassioned interviews he’s been giving lately, it seems like Tarantino is doing his damndest to make sure he gets people talking leading up to the release.
While most of us will have to wait until Christmas Day or later to check into Minnie’s Haberdashery and see which of Q.T.’s eight nogoodniks really “isn’t who he says he is,” it appears the cast of his latest picture had a ball playing in the director’s recent playhouse. Anne Thompson recently moderated a Q&A with the octet of scoundrels at the heart of Tarantino’s latest, and the stories they have to share from the claustrophobic-but-communal-sounding set are pretty great, and very revealing.
Spending endless hours in the cramped confines of the set where most of the movie unfolds brought this rogue’s gallery of Tarantino players closer together. You could almost say they’re a family, albeit a really, really messed-up one. Kurt Russell and Jennifer Jason Leigh, who calls Tarantino a “remarkable” director, talk about being chained together during pre-production to get into their respective characters of John “The Hangman” Ruth and wanted murderer Daisy Domergue. Bruce Dern, meanwhile, calls the set “the most exciting [I’ve] ever been on” and likens Tarantino to Alfred Hitchcock and Elia Kazan. Tim Roth and Michael Madsen, both vets from the “Reservoir Dogs” days, discuss how this new movie differs from their previous collaborations with Q.T., and ditto for Samuel L. Jackson (“He’s got more toys than when we first did it”), who supposedly plays one of the film’s most nuanced and surprising characters.
The actors also discuss the unorthodox rehearsal process, which apparently included nightly bonding sessions replete with the occasional Native American ceremony, and how Oscar-winning cinematographer Robert Richardson literally acquired the actual 70mm lenses on which “Ben-Hur” was shot for principal photography. It seems like all the actors had a gay old time making this flick, a feeling that’s articulated perfectly by the following statement from Kurt Russell:
“This experience, for all of us, was the one you want to have — in every way. You never want to drop the baton. You couldn’t wait to go to work in the morning to see what Sam was going to do that day, to see what Tim was going to do that day, or Mike, or what’s Jennifer going to come up with. Walton’s doing that thing in the snow today. Bruce is going to get shot today. I’d like to see that.”
Sounds good to us. “The Hateful Eight” can be seen in glorious 70mm Panavision starting in select theaters on Christmas day. Watch the Q&A below. WARNING: THERE ARE SPOILERS