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Film

How Quentin Tarantino entered the world of showbiz

Quentin Tarantino is recognised as one of the most influential filmmakers on the planet whose penchant for arthouse films and violent flicks perfectly blends to form his unique artistic vision. Known for his cult classics such as Pulp Fiction as well as his recent gems like Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Tarantino has announced that he is already planning his final project.

One of the most convincing advocates against film school, Tarantino maintains that he learnt all about cinema by watching the works of directors like Sergio Leone and experimenting on his own: “If you have the passion to do it and you do it and it doesn’t work out, [it’s fine],” he once commented. “I worked for three years on a 16 mm film that ended up becoming nothing but guitar picks.”

Tarantino also noted that there was a significant advantage to the failure, stating: “I was very disappointed when I realised that it wasn’t any good but it was my film school and I got away really cheap. When it was all over, I knew how to make a movie. I didn’t wanna show anybody that but I had the experience. [It was] a lot cheaper than [going to] film school.”

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As a supplement to directing, Tarantino also developed his skills as a screenwriter by attending acting classes, explaining: “I actually realised I had a bit of talent at it [by] going to acting class. And I was always doing bizarre scenes in acting class. Little by little, I started adding more and more and more to the scenes and that was me learning how to write dialogue.”

In fact, he entered the entertainment industry as an actor before he got the chance to launch his fantastic directorial debut Reservoir Dogs. He was cast as an Elvis Impersonator on the popular sitcom Golden Girls because he “got way into rockabilly music” at the age of 18. He claimed: “I was like the second coming of Elvis Presley. I dyed my hair black.”

“Before I did Reservoir Dogs, I had a very unsuccessful acting career,” Tarantino revealed in an interview with Jimmy Fallon. “One of the jobs I did get — and not because I did a wonderful audition but simply because they sent my picture in and they said, ‘He’s got it!’ — was for an Elvis impersonator on The Golden Girls.”

Despite the fact that Tarantino wasn’t even in the first row of Elvis impersonators on the show, fans can immediately spot him due to his awkward coordination with the music and dance moves as well as his attire. The director claimed that the money he made due to his appearance on the show funded his dreams of completing Reservoir Dogs.

Tarantino added: “It became a two-part Golden Girls. So I got paid residuals for both parts. And, it was so popular they put it on a Best of The Golden Girls, and I got residuals every time that showed. So I got paid maybe, I don’t know, $650 for the episode, but by the time the residuals were over, three years later, I made like $3,000. And that kept me going during our pre-production time trying to get Reservoir Dogs going.”

While describing his interpretation of Elvis, Tarantino said: “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… [I] walked around dressed like Elvis in the ’80s. I wore a pompadour all the time. I actually went to a rockabilly place to get my haircut.”

Watch a clip of Quentin Tarantino as an Elvis impersonator on The Golden Girls below.