×

Tarantino’s rediscovery net

While Quentin Tarantino’s first career is making movies, he’s quickly developed a second career giving second chances to actors long forgotten by everyone but him.

The most dramatic example of the Tarantino career rescue program is, of course, John Travolta, the $20 million-a-picture star brought back from oblivion a couple of years ago by Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction.” But lately other actors are benefiting.

Michael Parks for example, has been set in a lead role in “Hangman’s Daughter,” the P.J. Pesce-directed prequel (written by Robert & Alvaro Rodriguez) to the Tarantino-scripted “From Dusk Till Dawn.” The casting is noteworthy, and not just because Parks played a Texas Ranger blown away by Tarantino’s psycho character in “Dusk’s” opening scene. Parks’ career peaked in 1969 with the one-season NBC drama “Then Came Bronson.” Little has gone right since then — until he met Tarantino.

As a director, Tarantino is doing it again with “Jackie Brown,” giving the two leads to former blaxploitation queen Pam Grier (“Foxy Brown”) and Robert Forster (“Nakia,” “Banyon”). Sure, Tarantino got Samuel L. Jackson, Bridget Fonda, Robert De Niro and Michael Keaton for supporting roles, but would any other director have gambled on those two for the leads of his follow-up to “Pulp Fiction”?

Forster, after reading for hundreds of roles he didn’t get, was down to giving free motivational speeches while trying not to give up on himself. “The past five years, I hadn’t gotten a job for more than scale; and terrible, junky stuff that you take when you’ve got a kid in college and an ex-wife. Then Quentin comes along and says, ‘You’ve waited long enough. Now you’re going to work again.’ I can’t describe the feeling.”

Tarantino says he’s happy to help down-and-out actors, but his motivation is to make movies his way, and that’s with casting gambles that are as adventurous as his writing and directing. If he has to watch old TV shows to find the right actor, so be it.

“I think there is far less artistry in the casting of most mainstream movies than there should be,” he said. “There are certain movies that should have big stars, but there are also movies where it doesn’t make a dime bit of difference at the box office who plays a character.”

Luckily for Parks, Forster and Grier, Tarantino’s hooked on the ’70s. So while most of the “Dusk” dialogue was scripted to be delivered in rapid-fire bursts, Parks’ Ranger character was the exception: “I wrote that Texas Ranger role just for Michael Parks, for his lazy Texas drawl. He’s always been one of my favorite actors in the world. On ‘Then Came Bronson,’ Michael gave these Brando-like performances, the most naturalistic acting I’ve ever seen on a TV show.”

“Dusk” star George Clooney said it was clear Parks still had the goods. “Michael just blew the roof off in that scene, and he was so good, it seemed the movie would just be about him … until he got killed,” Clooney said.

More Film

  • 'Patrick Melrose' TV show premiere

    Benedict Cumberbatch, Claire Foy to Star in 'Louis Wain'

    Benedict Cumberbatch (“Avengers: Endgame”) and Claire Foy (“The Crown”) are set to star in “Louis Wain,” a biopic of the prolific English artist who rose to prominence at the end of the 19th century. “Louis Wain” will start shooting on Aug. 10 with BAFTA-nominated Will Sharpe (“Flowers”) directing the film, which was written by Sharpe [...]

  • Production Resumes on 'Fast & Furious

    'Fast & Furious 9' Production Resumes, Investigation Into Stuntman Injury Under Way

    Production resumed Tuesday on “Fast & Furious 9,” a day after an accident at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden, near London, left a stuntman in hospital. The U.K. agency responsible for workplace safety confirmed that it is now investigating the accident. The stuntman, Joe Watts, was working on a second unit when he sustained head injuries [...]

  • mother

    Director Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese: Africa Is ‘In the Process of Becoming’

    DURBAN–From the arresting opening sequence, in which the reflection of a woman carrying a giant wooden cross shimmers across the surface of a lake, Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese’s “Mother, I Am Suffocating. This is My Last Film About You” embarks on a poetic journey across an unnamed African landscape. Described by the filmmaker as a “lament,” [...]

  • Promise at Dawn Calcoa

    Colcoa French Film Festival Moves to the Fall With Revamped Format

    Colcoa, the Los Angeles-based French film festival, will be hosting its 23rd edition in September, right before the start of the awards season. Created by the Franco-American Cultural Fund, Colcoa will also be showcasing a more contained lineup focused on film and TV at the Directors Guild of America’s newly-renovated venue. The festival was previously [...]

  • Bruce Springsteen FYSEE Opening Night with

    Bruce Springsteen-Codirected 'Western Stars' Film Will Premiere in Toronto

    “Western Stars,” the film that Bruce Springsteen has made to accompany his recent album of the same name, will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, it was announced Tuesday. The feature is being listed as a co-directing project between Springsteen and his longtime filmic collaborator, Thom Zimny, who just picked up [...]

  • Sylvester Stallone and Braden Aftergood Balboa

    Sylvester Stallone's Production Company Wants to Be the Blumhouse of Action Films

    “I don’t believe Sylvester Stallone carries around a wallet,” says Braden Aftergood, the executive in charge of scripted development at the movie star’s content company Balboa Prods. It’s not that Sly, as he’s known to friends and fans alike, is trying to duck out on a dinner bill. He never seems to have his license [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content