On Five Things with Lynn Hirschberg—the new podcast from W—Hollywood’s brightest sit down with the magazine’s Editor-at-Large to talk about “Five Things” that have made them who they are: a person, a place, an object, one positive event, and one negative event that ultimately turned into something positive.
The result: candid, insightful, intimate conversations guided by Hirschberg’s singular skill as an interviewer. Topics range from the deeply personal to the nitty-gritty professional—Hirschberg covers the craft of filmmaking and the ins and outs of public life with equal parts curiosity, sensitivity and humor.
In Part 1 of Hirschberg’s interview with Quentin Tarantino, the filmmaker goes deep on the screenwriting process, his decades-long admiration for the late New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael, and how following his dream to become a filmmaker felt almost non negotiable.
Before he got into reading Kael’s sharp reviews, Tarantino says he never quite believed it when characters in films would throw quotes around at the drop of a hat. “When people are constantly quoting Shakespeare and saying it perfectly to the letter, this phrase or this stanza. I never, never bought it,” he tells Lynn. “But the reality is now by the time I’m in my fifties from reading Pauline Kael as much as I have that I can quote her like that. Things happen, things come up and a thing she said or a thought she had will pop into my head and now all of a sudden I’m like spouting it like it’s Confucius.”
Tarantino tells Hirschberg that he feels like one of the most popular characterizations of Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood doesn’t work for him: “I reject this whole, ‘This is your love letter to Hollywood.’ It was almost how every interview started at the press junket,” Tarantino says. “When they sat down with you for 20 minutes. ‘So this is your love letter?’ Or ‘It’s a nostalgia piece.’ Love letter became the two words that everybody said. I don’t think it’s a love letter. I wouldn’t find that really interesting.”
He reflects on the process of writing and developing his first script, True Romance, with Roger Avary, and recalls that his early attempts at screenwriting never made it past page 30. But Tarantino says going after his dream of making movies felt more urgent than anything: “Everything else was just so depressing by comparison that I had no choice but to live my dream,” he says. “It was the only outlet I had.”