History looks back kindly on Quentin Tarantino's illustrious film career, but ahead of his 1992 thriller Reservoir Dogs, not everyone was convinced. The director was joined by his compatriots Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen and Steve Buscemi at the Tribeca Film Festival this week and catching up with THR to celebrate its 25th anniversary, the filmmaker admitted that his self doubt was put to rest by the quality of the people he was working with.
"I was living in Glendale, California, with my mom at the time and (drove to Harvey Weinstein's house in) Malibu, it’s a long drive but it’s a cool drive," he reflected. "I’m sitting there at Harvey’s and I realized almost all the pressure was off my shoulders, cinematically. These guys were so perfect in their parts. They were so vibe-ing with each other and I thought, 'My God, if I just keep the movie in focus, I’ve got a movie.' I remember that night getting in my car and just taking that drive all the way from Malibu to Glendale on Sunset Boulevard and that was the happiest time of my life. It was this thing I had thought about for so long, making movies in general, and I thought, 'This might just work out.'"
Quentin: RD Too Hot For Wes To Handle
Putting his reputation at stake with the low budget title that turned the violence and gore up to peak R-rating levels, Tarantino's $1.2m masterpiece would have the worst start possible. Making an entrance at Sundance, the festival was not equipped with a scope lens projector to showcase the movie properly.
"That was a disaster, that's kind of famous, actually," he says. "It looks like kaka all the way through it. That would be bad enough but then it gets to the final climax and all of a sudden the lights come up. Someone says, 'Oh s***,' and they brought the lights down. Then everybody has their guns pointed on everybody else and right at the height of that scene, there's a power outage and all of the power goes out. It was a f***ing disaster."
When it would play fully, Tarantino knew he would be pushing people's buttons during Mr. Blonde's infamous torture scene. Those that walked out would forever be etched in the memory, including one famous filmmaker himself who should have been accustomed to a bit of blood.
"I started counting the walkouts during the torture scene and 33 was the largest. (Arriving at Spain's Sitges Horror Film Festival), I thought, 'Finally I've got an audience that won't walk out' and I even joked about it while introducing the film. Five people walk out of that audience, including Wes Craven! The f***ing guy who did The Last House on the Left walked out?! My movie was too tough for him."
Mr. Pink Paved Way For Buscemi To Be A Star
While the prestige of those involved could not be of higher quality, Tarantino outlined that a few other high profile names auditioned for the feature.
"A lot of really wild people came in and read for the parts. I had Tom Waits read the (opening scene) Madonna speech just so I could hear him say it... The script's great, it’s like poetry — by a poet no less."
As for Buscemi, Reservoir Dogs was a gateway to bigger and better things. The 59-year old would become a genuine Hollywood star with parts in Pulp Fiction, Fargo, Con Air, The Big Lebowski and HBO's Boardwalk Empire.
"Mr. Pink opened the door for me," he argued. "From those opening credits and putting the names to the faces was huge. I was able to get a lot more work because of it."