Are you still planning to make 10 films and stop? This is your eighth.
That is the idea. It usually takes me about three years to make a movie anyway, so you’re talking about almost a decade left. What about TV? Does that count? I might do a TV thing in between, and that wouldn’t be part of the 10.
Why cut it off there?
I don’t want to be the guy who’s doing this forever. There should be an end. And I should take responsibility for that. I’ve gotten more solid on that idea. I think a lot of directors, if not all directors, think they have more time than they do. By time, I mean either mortality or changes of fortune in the industry. You never know what will happen. And so, I think every director walks around thinking, even when they have only one more movie to go, that they have six left.
Does that make choosing your next project more difficult?
Certainly the reasons for making a film become sharper. It’s not about making a movie to pay for your alimony. You don’t make a movie just because “blah blah blah” wants to work with you.
The Hateful Eight is almost like a theater piece more than an action film.
One of the things I learned from making this is how to turn violence into a tone that runs through the story, that hangs over the characters’ heads, like their own swords of Damocles. You don’t know when the violence is going to happen, but you know it is going to happen, and you are just waiting for it. The trick was extending that for the entire movie. If the movie works, it should be suspenseful. There is a long, long buildup as I put my chess pieces in place. I am playing chess, and I have to put them all in the right spot before I start killing them off, and I am asking you for some patience.
Is there a kind of film you’re burning to make?
There is not a genre left where I have that same burning desire I had to do a World War II–movie or a martial-arts movie. I think maybe the one genre left might be a 1930s-gangster movie, that kind of John Dillinger thing. I’m interested in doing something contemporary, where I can have a character who gets in a car and turns on the radio, so I can have a cool driving montage. And if I had all the time in the world, I would love to make a really, really scary horror film, like The Exorcist. But I don’t know if me taking my sense of humor and putting it in the backseat just to hit a tone of dread from beginning to end is the best use of my talents or my time.
Right. Can a Quentin Tarantino not be funny on some level?
I don’t know if I could let go of that humor and be able to make something like The Exorcist and keep that tone of dread all the way through. Although a case could be made that The Hateful Eight is the closest I’ve ever come to a horror film. And more than any other Western, the film that influenced this movie the most is John Carpenter’s The Thing, way beyond just working with the same composer, Ennio Morricone, and star, Kurt Russell. The Thing also hugely influenced Reservoir Dogs, of course. And in its own way, The Hateful Eight is also influenced by Reservoir Dogs.
So you’ve come full circle?
You could say everything is starting to come full circle, and that umbilical cord is there, linking my eighth film back to my first.
The Hateful Eight opens January 7 at local theaters
See the film
Quentin Tarantino’s trilogy of sort-of-westerns closes with ‘The Hateful Eight,’ in which a blizzard traps guess-how-many bounty hunters, criminals, lowlifes and all-round wrong ’uns in a mountain stopover in post-Civil War Wyoming.