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Quentin Tarantino names the three greatest actors of his generation


Having worked with the likes of Samuel L. Jackson, Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie, Uma Thurman, Christoph Waltz, Michael Fassbender, Jamie Foxx and countless other greats across the course of his incredible career, Quentin Tarantino has been lucky enough to collaborate with some of the best actors of all time. Though, whilst the iconic filmmaker is certainly fond of each and every one of these aforementioned individuals, he has a particular love for a small collection of screen legends. 

Known as one of the most influential filmmakers of the 21st century, Tarantino’s pop-culture reign began in the early 1990s with the release of Reservoir Dogs and continues to this very day, releasing the critical and commercial hit Once Upon a Time in Hollywood in 2019. Whilst the snappy cinematic vigour of his early films helped to firmly establish the director in the ‘90s, it wasn’t until the release of Jackie Brown in 1997 that Tarantino would be considered a truly versatile creator. 

With an eclectic cast that included the likes of Pam Grier, Michael Keaton, Chris Tucker and Robert De Niro, Tarantino’s third feature film showed a restrained attitude, showing care and consideration to his sophisticated crime movie. 

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Truly impressed by De Niro in the supporting role, the director later told Charlie Rose, “He deserves his reputation as probably the greatest actor of his generation”. Continuing, in his gushing comments, he adds, “I think he is the best actor in the world. I’ve never seen an actor so completely consume himself in character, in true character work during the work. And what I mean by that is when Robert is playing Louis…he is working moment to moment”. 

Whilst Tarantino may appreciate the skills of Robert De Niro, he is a little too old for the director to consider him as one of the greatest of his generation, preferring three other actors who share his own age, or roundabout. 

When asked about his favourite actors of his generation in an interview with Jim Hoberman, Tarantino promptly replied, “Sean Penn, Tim Roth, and Nick Cage,” before giving reasons behind each of his choices. Featuring in several of his films, including Pulp Fiction and The Hateful Eight, the director chooses Roth “because of his versatility and ferociousness,” adding that, “he’s got this chameleon quality”. 

Choosing Sean Penn for his “sheer sexual-violence charisma,” he concludes his trio with plaudits for Nicolas Cage, choosing the actor for his “fearlessness”, before explaining: “I don’t think that I’ve ever seen another actor in the history of film that made a career of being miscast and rising to the occasion”.

Though he has worked with Tim Roth, Tarantino has strangely never reached out to collaborate with Sean Penn or Nicolas Cage, even if the latter will be trying his best in his forthcoming movie, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. Cage’s latest meta-movie stars the actor as himself with a desperate goal to appear in the next movie by Quentin Tarantino despite his ever-worsening career. 

Let’s hope the two can collaborate for real in the future.

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