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I had to find out what it took for Quentin to snag the Sexiest Man Alive as the lieutenant who leads the “basterds.” “For a long time I’ve thought, One of these days I hope I can write a character that would be terrific for Brad Pitt, and we can have a collaboration that will be like a Babe Ruth home run. So as I was writing the character of the lieutenant, I was like, Okay, this is the one for Brad. But then I started getting fucking nervous. I was like, Shit, if he doesn’t like it, what the fuck am I gonna do? So I sent it to him and then we had a meeting and he was ready to sign on.”
I also got Pitt’s memory of how his name was added to the list of famous faces who’ve acted for Tarantino, from Bruce Willis to De Niro. “Quentin came to visit and we talked about the script, we talked about backstory, and we talked about movies until the wee hours of the night,” he says. “I got up the next morning and saw five empty wine bottles lying on the floor and something that resembled a smoking apparatus. I don’t know what that was about. Apparently I had agreed to do the movie because six weeks later I was in uniform and playing Lt. Aldo Raine. So go figure.”
Then he adds, “Quentin said, ‘We’re going to take it to Cannes next year.’ After reading the script, I knew that was the right place but I didn’t see how he could pull it off. I never thought I’d be on the set so quickly or that in three months the film would be wrapped. All I can say is that it’s a real pleasure working for an auteur. You can see how much Quentin loves movies and he passes on that spirit to everyone around him.”
For his part, Tarantino seems at a loss to define what sets his films apart. “I’ve heard the term ‘Tarantino-esque’ thrown around,” he says, “but I don’t know what that is. If you’re doing what you’re doing, you’re not really that conscious of how you do it.”
Then he adds, “Part of the method to my madness is the idea of getting you to laugh at things that you wouldn’t normally laugh about, and you might even be questioning, Why am I laughing at this? But you’re laughing anyway, so too bad—you’re complicit. When I actually finally see the movie with an audience for the first time and hear their laughs, that’s the last ingredient to make the cake rise. That’s the payoff.”
photographs by tony barson/wireimages.com (pitt); jeffrey mayer/wireimages.com (beckinsale); jeff vespa/wireimage.com (barrymore)
Cover shoot: Behind the scenes with Pitbull for the October 2014 issue of Ocean Drive magazine.