Connect with Roma the Eternal City

Sign up our newsletter

Get more inspiration, tips and exclusive itineraries in Rome

The great director Quentin Tarantino (photo cover Nicolas Guerin)

text Giovanni Bogani

December 16, 2021

Hurricane Quentin

Tarantino, the career achievement award at the 2021 Film Festival, and his love of Rome and Italianness

Quentin Tarantino is talking a mile a minute. As he always does: with his usual vehemence and enthusiasm. Since the day he convinced his friends to shoot a short low-budget film, now lost, when he was still working as a sales clerk at a video rental shop. Back then, he read the names of the great film directors on VHS tape covers. Now he is one of them. One of the great ones. 

In Rome, Quentin Tarantino  was given the special award for career achievement by film director Dario Argento at the Film Festival, shortly after meeting with the Italian press.

Quentin Tarantino

“I feel at home in Rome. I’ve been coming here on a regular basis for twenty years, for the presentation of my films, and I’ve made some friends. But above all, I feel intimately connected to Rome, and I’ve felt this way long before I ever set foot in Rome”, the film director of Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, of Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood and two-time Academy Award winner and four-time Golden Globe winner says. “For the first part of my life, I never set foot outside of Los Angeles, I worked at a video store. Everything I knew about the world, I had learned it from watching movies. And the movies I loved the most were Italian movies”. 

Mr. Tarantino, you have Italian origins: your grandmother came from Portici, your grandfather from Castellammare di Stabia. But when exactly did Italy become such a big part of your life?

When I began watching Italian 1960 movies. It’s not that I don’t like the Italian film d’auteur genre, Fellini’s and Rossellini’s movies, but with Sergio Leone’s movies it was love at first sight. And he still is my greatest source of inspiration. 

Pulp Fiction, Uma Thurman

You love Sergio Leone to the point that you named a type of camera take after him…

Yes, I did: when I’m shooting and I want a very close-up shot, just like the ones in Leone’s movies, I call it a ‘Sergio?and the crew knows exactly what I’m talking about. 

Why do you love this genre so much?

Because Italian western films were much more fun than American films starring the great Hollywood stars. Grown-ups would laugh at them, calling them “spaghetti western” as if saying “ look how ridiculous these Italians are!”. But we kids loved Italian movies, because they were fun, theatrical, full of action, sex and music. 

Kill Bill, film scene

Speaking of music, Ennio Morricone composed the score for The Hateful Eight, for which he won the Academy Award. What kind of relationship did the two of you have?

Ennio Morricone, who played such an important part in Leone’s movies,  was my favorite musician: being able to work with him was a dream. I had been told that he was a cold, difficult person. Instead, he was always affectionate, kind, unpretentious with me. 

He was a very sweet person, a genius of great human value. It is true though that, in the beginning, he was not sure about working with me: his wife Maria read the script and said: “Ennio, you must do it!”. Ennio had absolute trust in his wife Maria. 

When you married Daniella Pick, Ennio Morricone sent you a wedding gift…

The most beautiful gift I received! A huge art book, with drawings by Michelangelo Buonarroti. I keep it in my living room, my wife and I look at it all the time. 

Speaking of scripts, is it true that you wouldn’t allow anyone to look at the script of your latest film, not even the actors starring in the film?

It’s true: I didn’t want the ending to be leaked. And the only way was to keep the script under lock and key. Everyone had to come to my office and read it in front of me. Nobody had a copy, not even Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio.

One upon a time, film scene

Your son Leo was born in February 2020, at the peak of the pandemic.

And my whole life changed. It had already changed by marrying Danielle, Leo’s mother. My priorities have changed, and at the right time in my life, towards the end of my career as a film director.

At the end of your career? Are you kidding?

No, not at all. This is the idea. My next film is going to be the tenth one: ten is a good number to stop at. I’ve been working for thirty years, since Reservoir Dogs in 1991, and it’s enough. I believe that I’ve given to filmmaking all I had to give. 

You of all people, always bursting with ideas and plans?

I’m not saying that I will be doing nothing. I could write books, plays or a TV series. 

Would you enjoy shooting a film in Italy?

Definitely! I would love to. And it would be amazing to shoot it in Cinecittà. I just need to find the right story. Actually, I already have an idea. A spaghetti western-style film, in which each character speaks a different language. 

In the meantime, you wrote the book Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood.

When I was a kid, I loved movie “ novelizations”. I’ve read books based on movies I had never seen before! Then a few years ago I said to myself: “Those were really good books! I should write one myself!”. So I read through the hundreds of pages of notes I always take before writing a film script, where I tell the story of my characters, who they are, where they come from. And I put some of those notes into Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, which is not the mere transcription of the movie’s plot, but much more. I feel lucky, because the book was released shortly before the pandemic outbreak. I feel like a little bird running for shelter as the storm hits,  making it through a window that closes and plucks a few feathers from its tail. 

Once Upon a Time, book cover

How do you judge your own career?

I don’t think I’ve made any important movies, but fun yes and, above all, I’ve made precisely the movies I wanted to make. 

You may be interested


Connect with Roma the Eternal City