The New Beverly Cinema website is well known for cataloguing film reviews written by Quentin Tarantino (the director owns the Los Angeles movie theater), but the “Pulp Fiction” and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” director published a rare gem this month in the form of a 1982 interview between himself and fellow writer-director John Milius. The catch is that Tarantino was 20 years old at the time, and he was still 10 years away from making his directorial debut with “Reservoir Dogs.” It shouldn’t come as a surprise to discover that 20-year-old Tarantino acts far older than his age suggests.
Tarantino writes in an introduction to the discussion: “This interview with writer-director John Milius was conducted when I was twenty years old (and boy does it show). The last film he had done at the time was ‘Conan the Barbarian.’ I just called up his assistant and told her I was writing a book, and she set me up with an interview with him. I met with him twice for the interview. The first time was in his office on the Paramount lot. The second time was on the set of the film ‘Uncommon Valor,’ which he was producing. He told me he didn’t want Gene Hackman for the lead, he wanted James Arness! Later I was to become friends with Big John. At the beginning of ‘95, before the Academy Awards, I was taken duck hunting by John Milius, Steven Spielberg, and Robert Zemeckis. John and I sat in a duck blind all day, sipping whiskey out of a flask, talking about movies and shooting the tail feathers off of ducks. This is only part of it. Later I’ll transcribe more.”
Milius got his start working on drafts of the script for Clint Eastwood’s “Dirty Harry,” which went uncredited. Milius earned an Oscar nomination as the co-writer of Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam War epic “Apocalypse Now,” and he went on to direct such 1980s action staples as “Conan the Barbarian” and “Red Dawn.” The director’s television work includes HBO’s period drama series “Rome,” which he co-created. Milius has not directed a theatrical feature film since the 1991 action war movie “Flight of the Intruder,” starring Danny Glover, Willem Dafoe, and Brad Johnson.
The interview between Milius and 20-year-old Tarantino begins with the latter telling the director that his script for “The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean” is his favorite screenplay of all time. “Gee, thank you. I really like that too,” Milius responded. “I hope you read my screenplay. The screenplay is much much better than the movie.”
Head over to the New Beverly Cinema website to read Tarantino’s interview with Milius in its entirety.