×

Bruce Lee’s Daughter Says Quentin Tarantino ‘Could Shut Up’ About Her Father’s Portrayal (EXCLUSIVE)

Bruce Lee’s daughter, Shannon Lee, is responding to director Quentin Tarantino’s latest comments regarding her father’s portrayal in the film “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”

“He could shut up about it,” she told Variety when asked how Tarantino could rectify the controversy. “That would be really nice. Or he could apologize or he could say, ‘I don’t really know what Bruce Lee was like. I just wrote it for my movie. But that shouldn’t be taken as how he really was.'”

Tarantino recently defended his depiction of the Asian American martial arts legend (portrayed by Mike Moh) as an arrogant blowhard. “Bruce Lee was kind of an arrogant guy,” Tarantino said at a recent press junket in Moscow. “The way he was talking, I didn’t just make a lot of that up. I heard him say things like that, to that effect. If people are saying, ‘Well he never said he could beat up Muhammad Ali.’ Well, yeah, he did. Not only did he say that, but his wife, Linda Lee, said that in her first biography I ever read. She absolutely said that.”

Not the case, Shannon Lee says.

“One of the things that’s troubling in his response is that, on the one hand, he wants to put this forward as fact and, on the other hand, he wants to stay in fiction,” she added.

Lee said that her father’s confidence could be mistaken for arrogance and does not call him a “perfect man.” However, she noted that the kind of criticism Tarantino draws on is one that she has heard before, primarily from other white men who were in martial arts and in Hollywood.

The passage in his wife Linda Lee Cadwell’s book, “Bruce Lee: The Man Only I Knew,” that Tarantino appears to refer to is a quote from a critic, who wrote that “Those who watched [Bruce] Lee would bet on Lee to render Cassius Clay senseless,” and not from the author herself (Clay was later known as Muhammad Ali). 

“[Tarantino] can portray Bruce Lee however he wanted to, and he did,” Shannon Lee said. “But it’s a little disingenuous for him to say, ‘Well, this is how he was, but this is a fictional movie, so don’t worry too much about it.’”

Bruce Lee’s protégé and training partner Dan Inosanto also rejected the idea that Lee would have bragged about being able to defeat Muhammad Ali in a previous interview with Variety.

A former TV host and current executive producer of Cinemax’s “Warrior” (based on a TV treatment Bruce Lee wrote), Shannon Lee is the caretaker of her father’s estate and charity foundation.

Lee was returning from a trip to Hong Kong where she had been working with the Hong Kong Heritage Museum on refreshing its Bruce Lee exhibit and expanding a martial arts summer camp program when she heard about Tarantino’s response to criticism about the film’s portrayal of her late father.

More Film

  • Maelle Arnaud

    Lumière Chief Programmer Maelle Arnaud: 'Film History Doesn't Have Parity'

    LYON, France   — As the Lumière Institute’s head programmer since 2001, Maelle Arnaud helped launched the Lumière Festival in 2009 and has watched it grow in international esteem over the decade that followed. This year, the festival ran 190 films across 424 screenings in theaters all over town. The festival will come to a [...]

  • Girl with Green Eyes

    Talking Pictures TV: Bringing the Past Back to Life in the U.K.

    LYON, France – Since its launch in 2015, Talking Pictures TV has become the fastest-growing independent channel in the U.K. with a growing library of British film and TV titles that span five decades, according to founder Noel Cronin. Noel Cronin attended the Lumière Festival’s International Classic Film Market (MIFC) in Lyon, France, where he [...]

  • Wings of Desire

    German Heritage Sector Applauds Increased Digitization, Preservation Funding

    LYON, France  — Germany’s film heritage sector is celebrating a new federal and state-funded initiative launching in January that will provide €10 million ($11.15 million) a year towards the digitization and preservation of feature films. Rainer Rother, the artistic director of the Deutsche Kinemathek, outlined the plan at a panel discussion at the Lumière Festival’s [...]

  • 'QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight'

    Film Review: 'QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight'

    In one of the intermittent revealing moments in “QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight,” a documentary about the films of Quentin Tarantino that’s like a familiar but tasty sundae for Quentin fans, we see Tarantino on the set of “Pulp Fiction,” shooting the iconic dance contest at Jack Rabbit Slim’s. As John Travolta and Uma [...]

  • Zombieland Double Tap

    Why Emma Stone Was Haunted by Fear of Vomiting While Shooting 'Zombieland: Double Tap'

    SPOILER ALERT: The following story contains a slight spoiler for “Zombieland: Double Tap.” The zombie slayers are back! Ten years after Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and Abigail Breslin first killed dead people walking in “Zombieland,” they’ve reunited for “Zombieland: Double Tap.” “You take stock of your life a little bit,” Stone says of [...]

  • Hereditary

    The Best Horror Films to Stream Right Now

    Good horror movies aren’t always easy to scare up, but with Halloween on the horizon, Variety has compiled a list of some of the best horror films available on Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu. NETFLIX Apostle Cult horror meets religious hypocrisy in this creepy gothic thriller, which follows prodigal son Thomas Richardson, who returns home [...]

  • Brett Gelman

    'Stranger Things' Star Brett Gelman Joins Michael B. Jordan in 'Without Remorse'

    Brett Gelman, best known for his scene-stealing roles in “Fleabag,” “Stranger Things” and “Love,” has joined Michael B. Jordan in Paramount’s adaptation of Tom Clancy’s “Without Remorse.” Jamie Bell and Jodie Turner-Smith are also on board. Jordan is starring as operations officer John Clark, also known as John Terrence Kelly, a former Navy SEAL who [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content