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Quentin Tarantino and Richard Kelly Talk Tony Scott at Double Feature of 'True Romance' and 'Domino'

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood August 27, 2012 at 12:49PM

Quentin Tarantino took time from editing "Django Unchained" Friday night to pay tribute to mentor Tony Scott at a double feature screening of "True Romance" and "Domino" arranged by Backstory's Jeff Goldsmith at the LA Film School in Hollywood. "Domino" writer Richard Kelly joined the Q & A between the two 35 mm unspoolings.
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Tarantino, Kelly, and Goldsmith at LA Film School
Tarantino, Kelly, and Goldsmith at LA Film School

Kelly admitted that "Domino" was a quasi-homage to "True Romance." "I see this as a double feature at the New Beverly," said Tarantino to cheers from the LA Film School students.

Tarantino still sees the "bloody scars" of Scott's fight with the MPAA over an R-rating ("see the unrated DVD"). Scott made compromises, including not having Alabama (Arquette) kill Chris Penn at the end. He was fighting to save the one "sacrosanct" scene when Dennis Hopper taunts Sicilian gangster Walken with repeated uses of the n-word. It's a violent interrogation that echoes Michael Madsen's in "Reservoir Dogs." After lighting the scene so that Walken would go first, after the actor begged to let him go after Hopper to make the scene better, Scott took the time to relight the set for him. "That's an actor's director," said Tarantino. 

Goldsmith learned from the director's cut DVD commentary that Scott slapped Arquette twice in order to get her to cry. He called it "The Persuader" the first time he shocked her with it; she actually later requested "The Persuader" for another scene. "Tony is such a nice guy that he could get away with that," suggested Tarantino. "It was not out of frustration or aggressive anger...There was a sweet man behind that slap."

How did Scott get his hands on "True Romance"? Tarantino was oing a rewrite on the Rutger Hauer flick "Past Midnight" at Cinetel Films and was invited to visit the set of "The Last Boy Scout." It was his first big studio location visit, complete with six cameras and six monitors. Scott later invited him to a party, and then asked to read his scripts. He immediately wanted to do "Reservoir Dogs" (1992) but Tarantino was prepping to direct that one himself. So Scott took "True Romance," released in 1993.

After "Grindhouse" opened Tarantino was in the dumps, experiencing his first big flop. He called Scott. "I was feeling pretty bad," he recalled. "I felt like the planet earth had broken up with me." Scott talked him down, told him he'd get over it, to remember he'd go on to do another movie that would fare better, and he'd appreciate it more. He told him to remember how lucky he was, to be able to make movies the way he wanted to make them: "Maybe people don't show up. But you're able to do the work you want to do."

"It made me feel a whole lot better," said Tarantino.

This article is related to: Quentin Tarantino, Quentin Tarantino, Tony Scott


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