×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

7 Things You Don’t Know About ‘Reservoir Dogs,’ as Told by Quentin Tarantino and the Cast

Mr. White, Mr. Orange, Mr. Blonde, Mr. Pink, Mr. Brown: They all reunited for the 25th anniversary retrospective screening of “Reservoir Dogs” at the Tribeca Film Festival April 28. Cast members Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Steve Buscemi and writer-director-actor Quentin Tarantino all got together to reminisce after the 1992 movie screened to a packed house at the Beacon Theater. Here are seven fun facts they revealed.

1. Tom Waits auditioned.
Tarantino let this tidbit slip as he discussed the casting process. “We had the casting director from ‘L.A. Law,'” the director recalled. “A lot of really wild people came in and read the parts. Tom Waits came in and read. I had Tom Waits read the Madonna speech, just so I could hear Tom Waits say those lines. And actually, other than Harvey, he gave me one of the first profound compliments on the script. No one had ever told me my work was poetic before.” (Roth, Madsen and Chris Penn all got their parts through those L.A. auditions; Buscemi came aboard after a round of casting in New York.)

2. Tarantino wanted to stage “Reservoir Dogs” as a play.
Keitel brought up this factoid as he recalled the film’s unusually long rehearsal process. “We had two weeks of rehearsal, which is unheard of in Hollywood,” he said. “We actually almost went to four, because Quentin thought at one time about doing a play.”

3. Madsen had never done his “Stuck in the Middle With You” dance until the day they shot the scene.
The most iconic moment in “Reservoir Dogs” is unquestionably the scene in which Madsen’s character, Mr. Blonde, tortures a captured cop (Kirk Baltz), cutting off his ear after doing a little dance to the jaunty tune of Stealers Wheel’s “Stuck in the Middle With You.” That dance was entirely spontaneous, it turns out. “You never made me do it in rehearsal, because I was so intimidated by it,” Madsen reminded Tarantino at the panel. “I didn’t know what to do. In the script, it said, ‘Mr. Blonde maniacally dances around.’ And I kept thinking, ‘What the f–k does that mean? Like Mike Jagger, or what? What the f–k am I gonna do?'”

4. Madsen eventually got his inspiration from James Cagney.
The actor didn’t even practice his big moment at home. When it finally came time for him to shoot the big torture scene, he found inspiration in an unlikely source. “I heard the music, and I said, ‘Oh, f–k, I better do something,’ and I started thinking about Jimmy Cagney,” Madsen said. “I remembered this weird little thing that Jimmy Cagney did in a movie that I saw. I don’t remember the name of it. He did this crazy little dance thing. It just popped into my head in the last second. That’s where it came from.” They only shot the scene three or four times, and the first shot of him breaking into that dance is the from the very first take.

5. Tarantino took a cue from the Coen Brothers.
The director said he had always intended for “Reservoir Dogs” to be more than a genre film. He was particularly intrigued with the idea of casting Roth because the British actor had some real art-house cred after his breakout work in 1990 films “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” and “Vincent and Theo.” “You were like this budding art-film superstar,” Tarantino told Roth at the panel. “And I didn’t want ‘Reservoir Dogs’ to be a straight-to-video genre movie. I wanted it to be a genre-based art film, like ‘Blood Simple,”” he added, referring to the Coen Brothers’ 1984 film.

6. Most walkouts in a single screening: 33.
Creatives relished when the movie made audience members flee during festival screenings. “I started counting the walkouts during the torture scene,” Tarantino said. “33 was the largest walkout.” He added that he had thought that at least everyone would be able to sit through it when it screened at the Sitges Horror Film Festival, where they had just shown Peter Jackson’s gore-soaked early film, “Dead Alive.” “I thought, ‘Finally, I’ve got an audience that won’t walk out.’ Five people walk out of that audience — including Wes Craven! The f–kin’ guy who did ‘Last House on the Left’! My movie was too tough for him?”

7. One of Tarantino’s favorite memories from the film didn’t happen on set.
During the panel, Tarantino reminisced about one of his favorite moments making the film, which happened at a cast dinner at Keitel’s house after the cast had spent two weeks rehearsing the material. “I really realized that gosh, a lot of the pressure was off my shoulders cinematically,” he said. “These guys were so perfect in their parts; they were so vibing with each other; they so understood the material. I thought, ‘F–k, if I just keep this movie in focus, I’ve got a movie. Anything else I bring to it will just be frosting. The cake is here. ‘”

More Film

  • '2019 Oscar Nominated Short Films: Live

    Film Review: ‘2019 Oscar Nominated Short Films: Live Action’

    The Academy skewed dark in its choice of live-action shorts this year, selecting four films to slit your wrists by — each one featuring child endangerment in a different form — and a fifth, about a diabetic on her death bed, that finds a glimmer of uplift at the other end of life. If that [...]

  • How the 'Rich Eisen Show' Mixes

    How the 'Rich Eisen Show' Mixes Sports and Showbiz in an Entertaining Mix

    Walking through the El Segundo studio where veteran sportscaster Rich Eisen tapes his daily “Rich Eisen Show,” the sheer density of sports memorabilia is overwhelming — everything from game balls to jerseys, gear, autographs and uncountable photos are crammed onto every inch of wall and desk space. But step into Eisen’s dressing room, and the [...]

  • Yorgos Lanthimos

    Film News Roundup: 'The Favourite' Director Yorgos Lanthimos Boards Crime Drama

    In today’s film news roundup, Yorgos Lanthimos has set up a crime drama, “Here Lies Daniel Tate” is being adapted, and Donna Langley becomes a member of the USC film school board. DIRECTOR HIRED “The Favourite” producer-director Yorgos Lanthimos has signed on to write and direct crime drama “Pop. 1280,” an adaptation of Jim Thompson’s [...]

  • Brody Stevens Dead

    Comedian Brody Stevens Dies at 48

    Prominent Los Angeles comedian Brody Stevens died Friday in Los Angeles, Variety has confirmed. He was 48. “Brody was an inspiring voice who was a friend to many in the comedy community,” Stevens’ reps said in a statement. “He pushed creative boundaries and his passion for his work and his love of baseball were contagious. [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business

    Hollywood Agents Blast Writers Guild Over New Proposals

    The war between the Writers Guild of America and Hollywood agents has escalated as the two sides battle over the rules on how writers are represented. The latest volley emerged Friday from Karen Stuart, executive director of the Association of Talent Agents, who accused WGA leaders of misleading its members and asserted that the guild [...]

  • Xavier Legrand Custody

    Cesar Awards: Xavier Legrand’s ‘Custody’ Wins Best Film

    Xavier Legrand’s feature debut “Custody,” a tense portrait of a family torn by domestic violence, won best film, actress (for Lea Drucker), and original screenplay at the 44th Cesar Awards, which took place at the Salle Pleyel in Paris. The awards are France’s highest film honors. “Custody,” which marks Legrand’s follow up to his Oscar-nominated [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    'Crazy Rich Asians,' 'Late Show With Stephen Colbert' Win Publicity Campaign Awards

    Hollywood publicists have selected “Crazy Rich Asians” as the top movie publicity campaign for 2018 and “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” as the best television campaign. Warner Bros.’ “Crazy Rich Asians” topped the campaigns for Disney’s “Black Panther,” Fox’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Paramount’s “A Quiet Place,” Sony’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” and Universal’s “Halloween” for [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content