Kurt Russell talks about lost opportunities and the pulp-comic book senibility in Quentin Tarantino’s movies
As ACTOR Kurt Russell’s stance on gun control is making news, so is his gun-toting characters on screen. Starring in back-to-back Westerns, we can catch him in The Hateful Eight this month (Bone Tomahawk is yet to hit our screens). His second film with Quentin Tarantino, after Death Proof (2007), the 64-year-old’s character is that of a disgruntled bounty hunter—for which he brings back the ‘John Wayne’ drawl. The actor talks about the violence in Tarantino’s films and how he could have played Han Solo in Star Wars.
The Hateful Eight went up against Star Wars. Is it true that you auditioned for Han Solo?
Both Han Solo and Luke Skywalker. That was back in the day when all the usual suspects in their 20s would roll in there. It was early 1976 because, at the same time, there was a television Western called The Quest that they were offering me. I really loved the part. It came down to these two, and I remember asking George [Lucas], “Do you think you’re going to use me or not?” And he said, “I don’t know which part I prefer you in—Solo or as Skywalker. I don’t know.” So I said, “All right, I am going to take this Western and there’ll be one less guy to think about.” I don’t know if he’d have hired me.
Now to The Hateful Eight. It must be a relief that it’s finally coming out.
There was a read-through and, a long rehearsal period—you’re in a pretty interesting condition when you’re shooting at 10,000 ft in Colorado. Then you come home to LA and they freeze the set. You just have to let it go. At some point, it has to be released.
As far as Westerns go, is this in the same genre as Tombstone?
In France, a journalist referred to The Hateful Eight as a Western-horror film and I thought that was interesting, because I did not get that. People are always talking about the violence in Quentin’s movies, but there’s a strong comic book sense to it. It’s very stylised. I have always found Quentin’s movies to have a pulp-comic book sense to them.
You do seem to have a knack for delivering Quentin’s dialogue.
I do like his dialogue. Maybe our sense of humour is similar. Stuntman Mike (Death Proof) is a memorable guy—and a big coward. I’d never got the chance to play a coward before. And John ‘The Hangman’ Ruth (The Hateful Eight) believes there’s a place where, no matter how bad you are, you’ll get your day in court.
The Hateful Eight release on January 15.
— Team Indulge