He is the Director of a generation. He makes films no other filmmaker would dare to, and he does it in style.
He’s killed Bill, he’s killed Hitler, and he’s even shot the Devil. He’s also revived countless careers and he’s done all of this while tip-toeing along a very fine line between homage and plagiarism.
Quentin Tarantino is a visionary Director who has given us unparalleled levels of entertainment. But he didn’t do it by himself. Here are ten of his collaborators who have helped him along his filmmaking journey.
Uma who? You could say Zoë Bell was Tarantino’s second infatuation, the first being the more famed relationship with Ms. Uma Thurman.
Zoë Bell is an Australian stunt performer whose first big gig was in TV series Xena: Warrior Princess. Tarantino must have seen something he liked, because he soon recruited her to do all of the dangerous stunts for his Bride in both Kill Bill films.
Renowned for favouring a hands-on approach himself (actually strangling Diane Kruger for maximum effect in Inglourious Basterds being one example of many incidents), I can only assume Tarantino appreciated Bell’s rough and ready style.
After the Kill Bill saga and the end of the (professional collaborative) relationship between QT and UT, the excitable director gave his new muse the opportunity to step out from the shadows and take a lead acting role in his next project, Death Proof (albeit playing herself – with her real name to boot).
After Death Proof, Zoë Bell performed stunts for Tarantino in Inglourious Basterds (for both Mélanie Laurent and Diane Kruger’s characters – Shosanna and Bridget von Hammersmark respectively) and she even stars in Django Unchained with a blink and you’ll miss her cameo role.
What she lacks in acting talent she covers in charisma and gusto, so I am confident Zoë Bell will be a staple of many of Tarantino’s future films, even if it is as a bit-part character.
(A Band) Apart of: 5 films
Collaborative influence: 4/10
Harvey Keitel is known for his serious persona, possibly even more off-screen than on. So it is a bit of a surprise that he and Tarantino get on so well.
You would have thought Keitel would have punched him in his ‘stupid, childish’ face by now. But he hasn’t. Instead he has delivered some of the most memorable character performances for the charismatic director, in some of his most acclaimed films.
Tarantino first collared the veteran actor to star as the ‘grown-up’ member of the band of jewellery thieves in Reservoir Dogs. Keitel’s Mr White provided the pulse for the action and story, with his sharp suit, sharp tongue and trustworthy persona.
This first appearance in a Tarantino film was Keitel’s largest role, but not necessarily his most prolific or memorable. He also stars as the even slicker Winston ‘The Wolf’ Wolfe in Pulp Fiction, and his demanding tone can also be heard in Inglourious Basterds where he is the ‘OSS Commander Who Agrees to Deal’.
(A Band) Apart of: 3 Films
Collaborative influence: 4/10
But, to the director’s credit, he can deliver a performance.
Although not his own baby, in Robert Rodriguez’s From Dusk Till Dawn he played George Clooney’s rapist/murderer brother Richie Gecko and he played the part convincingly. In fact, apart from his dodgy Australian accent in Django Unchained, Tarantino’s many cameo roles are all passable. Some even verge on entertaining when they’re not forcing you to cringe.
But as well as his on-screen attempts, it is Tarantino’s pop culture referencing, B-Movie loving, exploitation obsessing, geeky personality which is communicated through all of his works. And it is why many very talented professionals have either immensely enjoyed working with him, or are desperate to do so.
(A Band) Apart of: Well, all of them really
Collaborative influence: 9/10 (I’m taking one away for that accent)
A relatively new addition to Tarantino’s list of favoured collaborators, Christoph Waltz first appeared in a Tarantino film (and in any film for many of us) as the truly terrifying Col. Hans Landa, or, The Jew Hunter.
His performance was truly electrifying, and arguably Tarantino’s most memorable creation. In one of the tensest scenes in recent cinema, the opening of Inglourious Basterds reveals to us Landa’s horrific role within the Second World War, and frighteningly, his pleasure in carrying out this role with a real enthusiasm.
In Django Unchained, Waltz gets an even bigger bite, this time as Dr. King Schultz – a bounty hunter masquerading as a dentist, with a soft spot for slaves.
In Django, Tarantino asks of Waltz to play a very similar character to his Landa creation. They both have the articulate eloquence which equally scares and surprises their foe (and often us too), and both are larger than life – with a taste for the eccentric.
It was never going to be easy for Waltz to bring the same intensity to a more fictional, less antagonistically ready-made character, and this shows with Dr. Schultz. Although his performance is accomplished, I am starting to find Tarantino’s flamboyant characters a little tiresome.
I’m sure Waltz will return, so next time it would be nice to see him play a more grounded character.
(A Band) Apart of: 2 Films
Collaborative influence: 7/10
Michael Parks + James Parks
Michael Parks is usually found playing a mumbling, sardonic character – usually in the shape of a Texas Ranger called Earl McGraw. Michael’s real-life son, James, is also often found playing his on-screen son – Edgar McGraw.
In a Tarantino film, a cameo or small part is often almost as integral (and career influencing) as having a leading role, and Michael Parks as Earl McGraw epitomises this.
For avid fans of Tarantino’s interwoven worlds, the appearance of a McGraw or similar are among the most treasured of Easter Eggs.
Earl first appeared in From Dusk Till Dawn, where it wasn’t long before his cud-chewing ramblings were cut short by a fast bullet from Seth Gecko’s (George Clooney) gun. This didn’t stop him appearing in many other films and reprising this exact role though.
Among other appearances, the McGraws can be found in both Kill Bill volumes. Parks Senior even plays another character in the second film – Esteban Vihaio –a slimy, dominant pimp.
(A Band) Apart of: 4 Films
Collaborative influence: 7/10
Return tomorrow for part two of the top 10.