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Revisit Quentin Tarantino’s 2015 interview with Howard Stern

In December 2015, Tarantino made another appearance on The Howard Stern Show, following on from his 2012 conversation, to discuss his then-upcoming film The Hateful Eight as well as addressing events that had been taking place in his career and personal life. As is usual in his interviews, host Stern pulled no punches, never shying away from any up close and personal questions, prompting the Kill Bill director to be completely candid and give all the details. 

The award-winning director spoke to Stern – and co-host Robin Quivers -about The Hateful Eight, scheduled to be released in theatres a week after the interview. Tarantino also gave fans insight into his writing process, describing it as writing “one big novel” made from “three different drafts until I consider myself finished”. However, the hottest points of the interview came from issues and controversies surrounding Tarantino’s socio-political stances and a hostile situation with Disney and screening slots. 

Stern makes sure with a heated situation that had Tarantino’s name in headlines unrelated to his incoming movie, stating: “We got to address the controversy here…you can’t have an interview with Quentin Tarantino without it”. Tarantino had previously attended the Rise Up October protest to show both his support for victims of police brutality and his resistance against extreme behaviours in the force. The filmmaker’s appearance at the protest kicked up a huge backlash, with police officers openly declaring that they would boycott The Hateful Eight, as well as attempting to brand him a “cop hater”. When asked about the issue by Stern, Tarantino showed no signs of taking back his appearance and speech. He answered the question of why he attended as frustration with “watching one sickening incident after another” at the hands of American police officers. He then directly specified these said incidents as “unarmed people being shot and killed”, asserting that if anyone “talks to black folks, they’ll be saying this shit didn’t start a year and a half ago”.  

The director also showed awareness of how the run of murders is nothing new, but instead are more exposed due to easily accessible recording devices on phones and mass use of social media. Tarantino tells Stern and Quivers how “now with iPhones capturing this footage and seeing it, that seems pretty undeniable to us”, something that still reigns true six years later, following the recent 2020 Black Lives Matter protest after George Floyd’s recorded murder at the hands of police officer Derek Chauvin. He situated this progression against the comparison to the Vietnam war “being shown on television” and how “that started the wheels and motion towards the end of that war”. Tarantino diffused the backlash received from his appearance by clearing up incorrect assumptions: “I never said I was a cop hater,” he said. He does, however, make sure his opinion of an “institutional racism that is bred in law enforcement” is clear and criticises outlets distracting the issue away from police brutality victims, which meant “suddenly it’s about this celebrity who opened his mouth”.

After addressing this issue, Tarantino is asked the prevention of The Hateful Eight being screened at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood for two weeks. He wastes no time in directly specifying who was the cause, stating: “Disney decided…maybe we want to play throughout the entire holiday season”. The company had an anticipated upcoming release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens around the same time. Tarantino informs the hosts of alleged bribery made on the company’s part, claiming Disney told the Dome that if they “honour your [their] deal with The Hateful Eight, you [they] cannot have Star Wars”. He demonstrates an extreme emotional reaction to this, branding Disney as “vindictive” and displaying an “extortionist practise”, something unnecessary as his film is “no serious competition to Star Wars”. 

This segment of the interview gives a brutal and hard-hitting insight into the entertainment industry when it comes to huge businesses and companies clashing for the spotlight. It demonstrates compromise and conflict between money-making blockbusters such as Star Wars and more personal work made by auteur filmmakers like Tarantino. Overall, this 2015 interview is an entertaining and informative window into Tarantino, both as a filmmaker and a film fan or person.

Listen to the interview below.