February 18, 2016 Javad Iqbal

Quentin Tarantino 2012

Let me start with a question from Larry Greenberg, a reader who also sent in a question for that interview: He says: When I got to ask Mr. Tarantino a question about Inglorious Basterds his answer changed my life and inspired me to go into filmmaking. It gave me permission to pursue my dream. If that had not happened, I doubt that I would be sitting here today with a script and an insane deadline. It was a key turning point in my life. This time, I’d like to know how you came up with the characters Django and Dr. Schultz [played by Christoph Waltz] and how did you dream up their relationship?

Quentin Tarantino: Wow, Larry! That’s great! As for the scriptwriting process, it was kind of funny. I always knew I wanted to do a Western. And trying to think of what that would be, I always figured that if I did a Western, it would have a lot of the aesthetics of Spaghetti Westerns, because I really like them. They’re really brutal and operatic with a surreal quality to the violence. So, about eight years ago, I came up with the idea of a black man who was an ex-slave who had become a bounty hunter. And his job would be to track down white outlaws who were hiding out as overseers on Southern plantations. Now, that’s not a story; that’s just an idea. That was kicking around in the incubator for about eight years, waiting for its time. At the same time, I was writing a film criticism book on Sergio Corbucci, the director who did the original Django. So, I was kind of getting immersed in his world. Towards the end of the Inglourious Basterds press tour I was in Japan. Spaghetti Westerns are really popular there, so I picked up a bunch of soundtracks and spent my day off listening to all these scores. And all of a sudden the opening scene just came to me. It just came to me, and I knew I had to sit down and write it, even though I didn’t even have my notepad with me. So, I was just writing it on the hotel stationery. During those previous eight years, I never had a German, dentist bounty hunter in mind for the character. [Chuckles] But during that time, I did get to direct Christoph Waltz who was one of the best actors I’d ever worked with. Nobody does my dialogue better than he and Sam Jackson do. They just sing it! And now I think it’s going to be hard for me not to write for him. Anyway, I just started writing that scene, and this German bounty hunter shows up.