His last name has pretty much become an adjective, with a “Tarantino-esque” film containing long stretches of dialogue punctuated by short, intense bursts of violence. Quentin Tarantino is not only one of the most popular directors in Hollywood, but also one of the most revered. Although his films might be well known, what do we know about the man behind the camera? Here are 42 quarter pounder facts about Quentin Tarantino.
Quentin Tarantino Facts
One of Tarantino’s first jobs was as a video store clerk at Video Archives in Manhattan Beach, California. Tarantino joined the store when he was 22 and was attracted to the role due to his love of film. He actually wrote the scripts for True Romance and Natural Born Killers during his time as a clerk. Tarantino also met Roger Avary—who would later co-write Pulp Fiction—while working at the store.
2. Did I Break Your Concentration?
Two burglars broke into Tarantino’s LA home in December 2018. The two broke a window in the backyard to enter the home. They left with some possessions, but left earlier than planned since Tarantino confronted them and allegedly scared them away.
3. Copyright Infringement
Does anyone remember burning CDs? Tarantino used to do the equivalent with movies, recording TV broadcasts on VHS tapes. Tarantino began the practice before he was ten and used the technique to start building his own film collection.
Tarantino’s very first film was My Best Friend’s Birthday. Tarantino co-wrote the screenplay with his friend Craig Hamann. The cast and crew were fellow employees of Video Archives. After $6,000 (deducted from the employees’ paycheques) and three years to make it, the film was accidentally destroyed. You can still catch parts of it in on YouTube if you’re curious, though.
5. Dodged a Bullet
Many Tarantino fans will admit that the director’s acting leaves much to be desired. Tarantino briefly studied acting at a studio called Actor’s Shelter in Beverly Hills, but soon realized he was more interested in writing and directing. Unfortunately, he still tries to act sometimes.
6. No Netflix and Chill
While Tarantino recognizes how influential Netflix is, he isn’t a user and you probably won’t see a Tarantino Netflix Original anytime soon. Tarantino prefers the days when people would have to physically peruse films in a video store; taking more time to consider what they watch and maybe get a recommendation from an employee (like Tarantino himself). The director views the Netflix scrolling process as one that makes the film selection process relatively thoughtless.
7. You Shouldn’t Have
Like most kids, Tarantino wrote Mother’s Day cards for his mom. Unlike most kids, Tarantino’s cards were stories that usually involved his mom getting killed. But don’t worry, Tarantino would always stress that he felt bad about the ending. “It was enough to bring a tear to a mother’s eye,” according to the woman herself.
8. Wish Fulfillment
Tarantino doesn’t describe True Romance’s Alabama as his dream girl, but he does admit she is the type of girl he hoped to meet when he was writing the script. He’d never had a girlfriend at that point and wanted to find a girl who would “give me a chance and realize I was very cool…a girl who’s your pal.”
9. No Excuses
You might think you can’t get girls because you’re broke or busy, but Tarantino didn’t let that stop him. Though he had poor hygiene (he didn’t shower often) and was broke, he came up with ways to woo the fairer sex, e.g. borrowing a basket and table cloth in order to have a picnic in the parking lot of the video store (on a day he was working).
Tarantino’s first two Hollywood scripts, Natural Born Killers and True Romance, were directed by other figures. Tarantino was happy with True Romance but disavowed Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers. After that, he was adamant about directing his own scripts. Reservoir Dogs came next and Tarantino deliberately made the budget small (e.g. using few locations) in order to maximize his chance of maintaining creative control.
Tarantino doesn’t skimp on guts, but he’s not big on sex scenes. He doesn’t want to become another sleazy director (of which there are plenty) who coerces a girl into stripping on camera.
12. East vs West
Tarantino’s films typically have a different version for Asian audiences, since they’re usually more accustomed to violence in films. In contrast, the American versions have the violence toned down. This is because, as he puts it, American audiences and critics will typically turn his films into a “ponderous moral issue” due to the level of violence. For his part, the director sees violence as integral to his films, saying it serves the same purpose as dances do in musicals.
13. Old Timer
One of Tarantino’s favorite types of films are 1950s “Douglas Sirk-style” melodramas. Tarantino believes that most modern American audiences would view them as too campy, but he believes the level of emotion in the films does what it intends to: Sweep you away.
14. The King
Tarantino has written and studied plenty of screenplays, and ranks The Green Mile, a script that he considers to be “fine literature,” as his favorite.
15. Three Whiskeys
A Tarantino-themed bar opened in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on January 31, 2019. The “Kill Bar” has a bar setup inspired by Inglourious Basterds. The bar also includes a Kill Bill oil painting and Tarantino memorabilia. Owner Michael Galkovich wants Tarantino fans to “feel like they’re at home…like they couldn’t be at a better place to suit their soul or get their Tarantino fix.”
16. Quit While You’re Ahead
Tarantino views directing as a “young man’s game.” He believes directors tend to peak somewhat early and one of his biggest fears is burning out and leaving his fans to make excuses for the latter films of his career. He has previously made headlines for saying he intends to make 10 films, of which nine have been released (if you consider the Kill Bill films as one).
17. Mrs. Tarantino
Tarantino tied the knot with Daniella Pick, an Israeli singer and model, in November 2018. The two met in 2009 while Tarantino was promoting Inglourious Basterds in Israel. They briefly broke up, before reconnecting in 2015.
18. Tarantino, Quentin Tarantino
Before Casino Royale came along, Tarantino was looking to take on the Bond franchise. His version was going to be a sequel to one of his favorite Bond films, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Bond (played by Pierce Brosnan) would be in mourning after the death of his wife, and would then meet Casino Royale’s Vesper Lynn. Brosnan was interested, but producers shut down Tarantino’s version (probably due to too many racial slurs).
19. Dollar Store
Tarantino is good friends with fellow director Robert Rodriguez. Tarantino actually served as a guest director in Rodriguez’s film Sin City, for the scene where Clive Owen’s “Dwight” and Benicio Del Toro’s “Jackie Boy” are talking to each other in the front of Dwight’s car. The scene was the result of an earlier deal: Rodriguez did the score for Kill Bill Vol. 2 for a fee of one dollar, so Tarantino returned the favor by directing the Sin City scene for the same amount.
20. Blood and Chocolate
While Tarantino loves classics like Halloween, My Bloody Valentine (1981) is his favorite slasher film.
The working title for the upcoming film Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)—a Suicide Squad spinoff—was “Fox Force Five.” The title is a reference to a fictional television show that Pulp Fiction’s Mia Wallace starred in. In the film, Fox Force Five was tragically never picked up for a season, so at least it gets a second life in the real world.
22. Alone Together
Tarantino describes movies such as Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused as “hangout movies,” ones where the focus is on the characters. Tarantino will often rent Dazed and Confused if he ever feels lonely, finding company in the presence of the characters. He must like the genre, because he also considers Rio Bravo (one of his three favorite films) to be a hangout movie.
At the ripe age of 55, there are already four biographies published about Tarantino. Tarantino’s mother, Connie, credits the biographies with correcting the image that Tarantino likes to convey: A dirt-poor hillbilly from Tennessee raised by a teenage dropout. While his mother, Connie, did get pregnant when she was 16, she was able to finish college and give Quentin a middle-class upbringing in the California suburb of Manhattan Beach.
According to Connie, “Quentin would have you believe he was raised by wolves.”
24. Class Act
Prior to becoming pregnant, Quentin’s mother married his father in order to become an emancipated minor and go to college. However, Tony Tarantino wasn’t sterile (like he claimed) and Connie ended up pregnant. She then divorced Tony and didn’t introduce him to Quentin for a few years (evidently, the director doesn’t even remember the meeting).
The name Quentin comes from two different sources, according to Tarantino’s mom. The first inspiration is Quint Asper, Burt Reynolds’ character in Gunsmoke, and Quentin from William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury.
26. Not What I Meant
Tarantino dropped out of school in the ninth grade. By this point, he already started drinking and staying out late. He also got arrested for shoplifting an Elmore Leonard novel from Kmart prior to dropping out (was he already planning Jackie Brown back then?). His mother wasn’t happy about his decision and insisted he get a job, which led him to being an usher…at the Pussycat Lounge porn theatre.
27. Best Seat in the House
When Tarantino watches a movie at the theater, his ideal spot is one in the third or fourth row. From that range, he doesn’t have to swivel his head to see the whole screen, but he is also fully immersed: Other patrons, doors, exit signs, etc. don’t interrupt his view.
28. Saturday Night Fever
One of Tarantino’s early role models was French New Wave legend Jean-Luc Godard. Tarantino admired Godard’s directing style, especially the long takes and long closeups. He later named his production company, A Band Apart, after Godard’s Bande a Part. The Twist scene in Pulp Fiction is also inspired by a dance scene in Bande a Part.
29. Shots Fired
As a whole, Tarantino isn’t a fan of Stanley Kubrick. He views Kubrick’s films as “too cold, too composed,” implying they lack emotional weight. Tarantino does admit that the first twenty minutes of A Clockwork Orange are “…pretty f***ing perfect…as poppy and visceral and perfect a piece of cinematic moviemaking as I think had ever been done up until that time.” However, he says that he only “puts up” with the rest of the film.
As expected, Tarantino has a theater in his house. The first row has a red sofa he uses when he’s alone. Behind the sofa, there are fifty rows of seats for potential guests. The room has wall-to-wall carpeting, brass lamps, and velvet ropes supported by brass poles, just like an old-fashioned cinema.
Tarantino wanted the Mexican brothel scene in Kill Bill Vol. 2 to be shot in an authentic brothel, so he sent production scouts down to find his spot. They found something authentic, a brothel that was across the street from a slaughterhouse. According to Tarantino, the floor was originally covered with human and pig feces (from their neighbors across the street), so it required some cleaning up and some decorating to get it ready for the shoot.
32. Lone Star
Tarantino once contacted a Texas sculptor in order to commission sculptures of some of his characters. Notable statues include Pulp Fiction’s Mia Wallace and Reservoir Dogs’ Mr. Blonde.
33. Friendly Competition
When working at Video Archives, Tarantino was surrounded by co-workers who loved movies as much as he does. Allegedly, one of them died by suicide because he was convinced he wouldn’t be as successful as Tarantino.
34. Big Mouth
Tarantino went to several auditions during his Video Archives days, but only secured a small role as an Elvis impersonator in The Golden Girls. The young Tarantino worried his face was limiting his chances (as opposed to his skill) and went to a plastic surgeon with the intention of shortening his jaw. It was the plastic surgeon who told him he had a “characteristic look” and should keep his jaw the way it is.
35. Grand Ambitions
If it wasn’t for showbiz, Quentin Tarantino admits he might have ended up as a petty criminal. He didn’t finish high school and he made minimum wage as a video store employee. He met various criminals growing up, ranging from pimps to con men, and even had a romanticized notion of county jail. However, after he spent eight days in such a place (for not paying parking tickets), hard time didn’t seem like such a good idea anymore.
36. Don’t Recommend It
While working at Video Archives, one of Tarantino’s romantic gestures was to tell a customer that there was a problem with their file. When he let the customer take a look, they would see the system listed them as “Dreamgirl.” We don’t have details about the success rate of this strategy, but it’s probably not the best approach.
Director Tara Wood has completed a documentary about Tarantino’s first 21 years in Hollywood, appropriately titled 21 Years: Quentin Tarantino. The documentary features interviews with Tarantino’s frequent collaborators, such as Samuel L. Jackson. The project was originally owned by The Weinstein Company, which worked with Tarantino on all his projects.
Understandably, Wood wanted the rights back, and they were given back to her in early 2019.
38. Tell Us How You Really Feel
Ennio Morricone, who served as the composer for The Hateful Eight, has publicly stated his disdain for his old boss. Morricone, who most famously wrote the score for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, was originally slated to compose Tarantino’s next film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, but their arrangement fell through. In a 2018 interview, Morricone describes Tarantino as “unoriginal,” and “absolutely chaotic…He calls up out of the blue and wants a complete score in just a few days.”
He also added that Tarantino’s films are “trash.”
39. Oh Quentin
No #MeToo allegations have popped up about Tarantino yet, but he isn’t exactly a saint. In a 2003 interview with Howard Stern, Tarantino defended Roman Polanski’s rape of a thirteen-year-old, arguing it was not really rape since it was statutory. When he was reminded that the victim was drugged, he stated, “Look, she was down with this.” Years later, he offered an apology for his words:
“Fifteen years later, I realize how wrong I was. Ms. Geimer WAS raped by Roman Polanski. When Howard brought up Polanski, I incorrectly played devil’s advocate in the debate for the sake of being provocative. I didn’t take Ms. Geimer’s feelings into consideration and for that I am truly sorry. So, Ms. Geimer, I was ignorant, and insensitive, and above all, incorrect. I am sorry Samantha.”
Quentin Tarantino was raised in California but was born in Knoxville, Tennessee. He never knew his father Tony, a musician of Italian descent. His Irish/Cherokee mother, Connie McHugh, moved them to California when Tarantino was four. When asked about his father, Tarantino once said: “Well, I never knew my father…That’s the thing. I never knew him…He wanted to be an actor…Now he’s an actor only because he has my last name. But he was never part of my life. I didn’t know him. I’ve never met him.”
41. The Bride
While Quentin Tarantino referred to Uma Thurman as his “muse,” the relationship has been rocky for several years. Thurman’s animosity towards Tarantino is believed to have started with a car stunt for Kill Bill, where she was denied a stunt driver and sustained a permanent injury to her knees and neck. Later, she asked for footage of the crash, which Tarantino refused to give her unless she signed a contract saying she wouldn’t sue. She refused, and he held on to the footage for more than a decade before giving it to her.
42. Infinity and Beyond
All of Tarantino’s film contracts include a provision that he maintains all the rights to his characters indefinitely. This prevents anyone else from using them for spinoffs, sequels, prequels, etc., without his permission. Tarantino has stated he wants to create a unified world with his films and there have already been some crossovers e.g. Vic Vega from Reservoir Dogs is related to Vincent Vega from Pulp Fiction.
Tarantino actually mulled over the possibility of a prequel starring the two brothers titled Double V Vega. It would’ve taken place in Amsterdam just before the events of Pulp Fiction. Vincent would be working there, and Vic would come visit for the weekend. The film would’ve followed the exploits of the two brothers.