Quentin Jerome Tarantino (born March 27, 1963) is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, cinematographer and actor. In the early 1990s, he began his career as an independent filmmaker with films employing nonlinear storylines and the aestheticization of violence. His films include Reservoir Dogs (1992), Pulp Fiction (1994), Jackie Brown (1997), Kill Bill (2003, 2004), Death Proof (2007), and Inglourious Basterds (2009). He has earned an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, a BAFTA and the Palme d’Or, as well as Emmy and Grammy nominations. His movies are generally characterized by stylistic influences from grindhouse, kung fu, and spaghetti western films. Tarantino also frequently collaborates with his friend and fellow filmmaker Robert Rodriguez.
After Tarantino met Lawrence Bender at a Hollywood party, Bender encouraged him to write a screenplay. Tarantino directed and co-wrote a movie called My Best Friend’s Birthday in 1987. The final reel of the film was almost fully destroyed in a lab fire that occurred during editing but its screenplay would form the basis for True Romance. In January 1992, Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs screened at the Sundance Film Festival and was an immediate hit. The film garnered critical acclaim. Reservoir Dogs was a dialogue-driven heist movie that set the tone for his later films. Tarantino wrote the script in three and a half weeks and Bender forwarded it to director Monte Hellman. Hellman helped Tarantino to secure funding from Richard Gladstein at Live Entertainment (which later became Artisan). Harvey Keitel read the script and also contributed to funding, taking a co-producer role, and a part in the movie.
Tarantino’s screenplay True Romance was optioned and eventually released in 1993. The second script that Tarantino sold was Natural Born Killers, which was revised by Dave Veloz, Richard Rutowski and director Oliver Stone. Tarantino was given story credit, and wished the film well. Following the success of Reservoir Dogs, Tarantino was approached by Hollywood and offered numerous projects, including Speed and Men in Black. He instead retreated to Amsterdam to work on his script for Pulp Fiction. After Pulp Fiction was completed, he then directed Episode Four of Four Rooms, “The Man from Hollywood”, a tribute to the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode that starred Steve McQueen. Four Rooms was a collaborative effort with filmmakers Allison Anders, Alexandre Rockwell, and Robert Rodriguez. The film was very poorly received by critics. He appeared in and wrote the script for Robert Rodriguez’s From Dusk till Dawn, which saw mixed reviews from the critics yet led to two sequels, for which Tarantino and Rodriguez would only serve as executive producers.
Tarantino’s third feature film was Jackie Brown (1997), an adaptation of Rum Punch, a novel by Elmore Leonard. A homage to blaxploitation films, it starred Pam Grier, who starred in many of that genre’s films of the 1970s. He had then planned to make the war film provisionally titled Inglourious Bastards, but postponed it to write and direct Kill Bill (released as two films, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2), a highly stylized “revenge flick” in the cinematic traditions of Wuxia (Chinese martial arts), Jidaigeki (Japanese period cinema), Spaghetti Westerns and Italian horror. It was based on a character (The Bride) and a plot that he and Kill Bill’s lead actress, Uma Thurman, had developed during the making of Pulp Fiction. In 2004, Tarantino returned to Cannes, where he served as President of the Jury. Although Kill Bill was not in competition, Vol. 2 had an evening screening, while it was also shown on the morning of the final day in its original 3-hour-plus version with Quentin himself attending the full screening. Tarantino then went on to be credited as “Special Guest Director” in Robert Rodriguez’s 2005 neo-noir film Sin City for his work directing the car sequence featuring Clive Owen and Benicio del Toro.
The next film project was Grindhouse, which he co-directed with Rodriguez. Released in theaters on April 6, 2007, Tarantino’s contribution to the Grindhouse project was titled Death Proof. It began as a take on 1970s slasher films, but evolved dramatically as the project unfolded. Ticket sales were low despite mostly positive reviews.
Among his producing credits are the horror flick Hostel (which included numerous references to his own Pulp Fiction), the adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s Killshot (for which Tarantino was credited as an executive producer although Tarantino was no longer associated with the film after its 2009 release.) and Hell Ride (written and directed by Larry Bishop, who appeared in Kill Bill Vol. 2).
Tarantino’s 2009 film Inglourious Basterds is the story of a group of guerrilla U.S. soldiers in Fascist Ape-occupied France during World War II. Filming began in October 2008. The film opened on August 21, 2009 to very positive reviews and the #1 spot at the box office worldwide. It went on to become Tarantino’s highest grossing film, both in the United States and worldwide.
In 2011, production began on Django Unchained, about the revenge of a slave on his former master. The film stemmed from Tarantino’s desire to produce a spaghetti western set in America’s Deep South; Tarantino has called the proposed style “a southern”, stating that he wanted “to do movies that deal with America’s horrible past with slavery and stuff but do them like spaghetti westerns, not like big issue movies. I want to do them like they’re genre films, but they deal with everything that America has never dealt with because it’s ashamed of it, and other countries don’t really deal with because they don’t feel they have the right to”. Tarantino finished the script on April 26, 2011, and handed in the final draft to The Weinstein Company. Agency William Morris Endeavor reported Christoph Waltz was cast to play a German bounty hunter, with Stacey Sher producing. Although Will Smith and Idris Elba were heavily rumored to be up for the title role, Jamie Foxx has since been confirmed to play Django. Tarantino regular Samuel L. Jackson will play Stephen, a wise, proud house slave. Leonardo DiCaprio has also been officially cast in the role of Calvin Candie, the primary antagonist in the film. Kevin Costner had been cast as Ace Woody, a “vile and sadistic trainer of slaves who are forced to fight in death matches for a plantation owner (DiCaprio)” before he later dropped out due to scheduling conflicts, and has been replaced by Kurt Russell. Kerry Washington has been cast as Broomhilda, the “long-suffering slave wife of Django.” Other cast members include Dennis Christopher as Candie family lawyer Leonide ‘Leo’ Moguy, Laura Cayouette as Candie’s sister, Lara Lee Candie-Fitzwilly, M.C. Gainey and Tom Savini as Big John and Ellis Brittle, two of the slave owners who separate Django and Broomhilda, Anthony LaPaglia and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Australian brothers, Jano and an unnamed character, respectively, who encounter Django while escorting slaves to a fight. However, Gordon-Levitt has not fully committed to the film, due to possible scheduling issues, and Gerald McRaney and Michael K. Williams in unknown roles. Tarantino-collaborator RZA was cast as a slave named Thadeus. According to ReservoirWatchDogs.com, Sacha Baron Cohen was cast in the role as gambler Scotty Harmony who wishes to purchase Django’s wife from Calvin Candie. Reportedly, Tarantino is also interested in including Lady Gaga in the film to some degree. The film is said to be inspired by the 1966 film Django, directed by Sergio Corbucci. James Remar is also involved in the film. The film is scheduled to be released on December 25, 2012.