TARANTINO: He is master of the institution of slavery, and my despising that is why I wrote this whole thing. He’s the bedrock of it all. So I thought, Wow, I got Leo, and he doesn’t know that it’s a lot of smoke and mirrors and not as good as some of these other parts. But working with Leo, we ended up making it as good as all those other parts. The whole petulant boy emperor idea solidified as opposed to the older plantation big-daddy fellow. Leo formed a new character, and he was direct about what he wanted to do. Just as I have an agenda about history that I want to get across in this movie, so does he, and he brought all this research into his character. Leo had a nice monologue, talking about being a boy and his father doing this and being surrounded by black faces growing up. How could he ever be anything other than what he is? He was born into this. Is a prince going to deny the throne, his kingdom? I still blame him, but what chance did he have?
PLAYBOY: You write terrific villains. Who set the bar highest for bad guys for you?
TARANTINO: Lee Van Cleef is one of my favorite actors. I love him in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
PLAYBOY: What makes a good bad guy?
TARANTINO: You can point at a movie like Schindler’s List and there’s Ralph Fiennes. And there’s No Country for Old Men and Javier Bardem, and Inglourious Basterds and Christoph Waltz. The last time I watched a regular genre movie and the bad guy showed up and blew me away was Alan Rickman in Die Hard. It was the way he took over the film. It’s definitely fun to write characters like that. But what I’m always trying to do, even in the case of Reservoir Dogs, is get you to kind of like these guys, despite on-screen evidence that you shouldn’t. Despite the things they do and say and despite their agenda. I also like making people laugh at fucked-up shit.
PLAYBOY: The last time you did a Playboy Interview you described being propositioned by women mailing you photos and things. What does the mail look like now?
TARANTINO: If I’m at a film festival, out and about in town or in a bar, I can chat a gal up and it’s still all good. I don’t keep up with mail anymore. When I went to the Venice Film Festival and was the head of the jury, I couldn’t do anything because everyone knew I was there. You go down to the bar, where it was always cool to drink with some of the other jury members, but it was a constant bum’s rush.
PLAYBOY: You took ecstasy at the Great Wall to let off steam while you were making Kill Bill. When you shoot a tense slave drama in the Deep South, how do you let loose?
TARANTINO: This movie was so hard. I thought about it in terms of Kill Bill, and I was like, Okay, I am not partying like I did on that one. We had the weekends off, and sometimes I found myself sleeping all Saturday and maybe every once in a while going out to dinner.
PLAYBOY: You told Howard Stern that Brad Pitt cut you a hunk from a hash brick while you were talking about Inglourious Basterds. What kind of trouble did you get in from Brad, or from Angelina Jolie?
TARANTINO: Oh no, that time I was okay. Brad fucking started it. He mentioned it at a fucking press conference. I’d mentioned it earlier, but he made it official. Maybe he doesn’t realize he’s the one who officially started it, but he did. But it was all good. It got picked up on a zillion sites: “Quentin gets Brad high to say yes to Basterds.” And then 996 related articles. [laughs]
PLAYBOY: Do drugs have a positive impact on your creative process while you’re writing or directing?
TARANTINO: Well, no. I wouldn’t do anything impaired while making a movie. I don’t so much write high, but say you’re thinking about a musical sequence. You smoke a joint, you put on some music, you listen to it and you come up with some good ideas. Or maybe you’re chilling out at the end of the day and you smoke some pot, and all of a sudden you’re spinning a web about what you’ve just done. Maybe you come up with a good idea. Maybe it just seems like a good idea because you’re stoned, but you write it down and look at it the next day. Sometimes it’s fucking awesome. I don’t need pot to write, but it’s kind of cool. Making this movie was really hard. The weekend comes and all I want to do is smoke out to veg. It’s just shutting down. My blowout on Django was always Friday night. In New Orleans, me and the crew would go out to some bar. There were tons of bars, and some of them were pretty wild. We would be out till six or seven in the morning and then just sleep all day, recuperate Sunday, maybe show a movie and be back at it Monday.
PLAYBOY: Do you have a medicinal marijuana prescription, which allows everybody in Hollywood to get pot legally?
TARANTINO: I might be the only guy here who doesn’t have that.
PLAYBOY: You turn 50 next year. Do you think about getting married and having kids?
TARANTINO: We’ll see. I’ve had things that have almost worked out but haven’t, where I thought I’d get married and have kids. I’m not necessarily against it anymore. I was into it, but then I got over it. I had a little baby fever for a while but got over it.
PLAYBOY: Did you spend quality time around a little kid?
TARANTINO: No, no, no. The movie I’m working on is my baby. But I’m in an open time in my life right now, and I’m kind of interested to see what’s going to happen next.
PLAYBOY: Is any of that because you’re about to turn 50?
TARANTINO: I don’t think so, because I don’t think about it like that. I think you’re the first person to keep referring to my turning 50. [laughs] Yeah, I’m still hanging on to my 49. I have a little while yet. All this 50 talk? It’s just mean.
PLAYBOY: It’s pissing you off?
TARANTINO: Yeah. [laughs] I could be open right now to meeting a cool girl, getting along with her, taking it to the next step and, if that’s good, taking it to the next step. And let’s just see what the deal is.
PLAYBOY: You’re going to be one of those 65-year-old guys chasing kids around the house, aren’t you?
TARANTINO: Frankly, I wouldn’t have a problem with that at all. I mean, a little ego in me would like to be younger when I have kids, but fucking kids don’t give a shit. And there is that aspect of being older now and having time with them. You don’t have better shit to do. The kid doesn’t care.
PLAYBOY: What’s the most appealing thing about living a single man’s life?
TARANTINO: I have the freedom to do what I want. I can make the day whatever I want to make it. People with families have responsibilities to their team. I’m sure there are negative aspects to my bohemian lifestyle, to be sure.
PLAYBOY: Like what?
TARANTINO: I don’t know. I’m just talking the most mundane stuff.
PLAYBOY: You can’t think of a single thing, can you?
TARANTINO: Yeah. If I had a wife, I would probably be more polite. She would make me write thank-you notes. When people do something nice for me, she would make me do something back—a note or a phone call—which I won’t do on my own. [laughs] That would be a nice part of the bargain. I wouldn’t be such a caveman. I might be a little less remote. Having said that, though, with the artistic, almost academic way I like to live my life when it comes to the movies I make and the research I do on them, I’ve got it pretty great. If I wanted to live in Paris for a year, what the fuck? I can. I don’t have to arrange anything; I can just do it. If there is an actor or a director I want to get obsessed with and study their films for the next 12 days, I can do that. The perfect person would be a Playmate who would enjoy that.
PLAYBOY: Well, they’re out here.
TARANTINO: I know, and that’s why I say it’s not impossible.
PLAYBOY: We could probably throw a rock from your house here and hit one.
TARANTINO: Well, they have to be legitimately Playmate on that. They have to dig it. They have to be down with a J. Lee Thompson film festival.
PLAYBOY: How do you know if women you meet are into Quentin the guy and not Quentin the filmmaker? Does it matter?
TARANTINO: Well, I’m not Quentin the average guy. Expecting her to like me the way she would like me if I were a plumber or if I worked at Why Not a Burger is not realistic. And why would you want that? Part of me is me and my life, and part of me is me and my artistic journey. That’s all part of it.
PLAYBOY: Does that mean the woman should be a fan?
TARANTINO: No, it just means that if you like my work or respect what I do, it’s conceivable that could be an attractive element if you meet me. And if you like me and I’m charming and sexy or whatever things you could be attracted to, that could be a plus. You can date this girl and that girl, but if you’re going to get together and try to be girlfriend and boyfriend, me and my life and my artistic journey are part of the deal. And part of my life is my artistic journey. At a certain point it becomes overwhelming when you’re doing a film. A girl needs her own life too.