8 Question With Kurt Russell

We sat down with the always affable Kurt Russell for a yarn about his role in The Hateful Eight and what it’s like working with the legendary QT.
He’s played Elvis but has found a niche with a good ol’ Western and his buddy, Quentin Tarantino. 

1. When did you get the call about The Hateful Eight? I hear you didn’t realise at the time it was a rehearsal for a movie?

When Quentin wanted to do a reading of it, in March or April of last year. He called me on the phone and said, ‘I’m hearin’ your voice here. Is there any way you can do this reading?’ I said, ‘Sure!’ I didn’t realise at the time that we were going to do a reading for an audience, not till, like, the afternoon before we did it. But it was really fun. 

2. So you weren’t thinking of it as a rehearsal for a movie?
No. I thought that was all it was. Then later on Quentin started talking about doing the movie, which I didn’t know if he was serious about. And then in the early fall he started talking about where he was gonna shoot it, and I thought, ‘Well, I guess he’s gonna do this. I guess he’s gonna make this movie.’ 

3. Are you now a permanent part of Quentin’s repertory company?
I think Quentin just starts to see people in a role, and that’s what he did here. But I love working with him. It just is so much fun. He is unique. He’s unique on the set, he’s a unique writer, he’s a unique director with actors – and by unique I mean, it’s sort of the circus you thought you were joining many, many years ago. 

4. How would you describe John Ruth?

As a human being, he’s one of those bombastic forces that has gone through his life… He’s learned to live by his wiles and he just crashes through everything. He’s not as smart as he thinks he is – he’s like a man who took a high dive in a low well – but he’s in a situation here where he’s been up for almost a week. He’s been with this woman for a week – chained to this woman. So he’s probably had zero sleep. By nature, he’s grouchy all the time. He’s more afraid than he knows. 

5. Tell us about the theme of justice in the movie, it’s quite strong...

Yeah. And John Ruth is the cornerstone of that. Sam’s character, Major Warren, says to him, “Why d’you bring ‘em in alive? I never bring ‘em in alive.” But Ruth brings them in to stand trial and then hang – both ends of it. He’s just. He believes in that, to the point of putting himself in danger. He believes that even the worst dog should have their day. 

6. Does this kind of production take you back to your early years as an actor?

Yeah, it does. I know what you mean. I love westerns. I love that period and I feel very comfortable in it. I loved watching them, I loved doing them when I was younger and I hadn’t done a western for a while. I love this time period. I feel like I could do this for a long, long time. I’ve always spent my career doing different things and now I feel just the opposite. I’m not looking to do something different, I feel comfortable. But, looking back? It does remind me of way back when. 

7. It’s interesting that you feel comfortable. The other actors have been telling me that Quentin doesn’t want them to feel comfortable…

Well, I live just down the road, just outside of Aspen – I just had three days off, so I drove back – so it is comfortable for me, being here in Colorado, tromping around in the snow. But it never really matters – you’re just doing what you’re doing as an actor. The truth is, I think every actor should relish the opportunity to work with Quentin. I just really feel extremely lucky. I get it. Maybe there’s a shared sense of humour that’s important.

8. It’s like Reservoir Dogs, in a way.

Yeah. It’s pure character, and once you move inside Minnie’s, primarily you’re in one room. But the room is big and the people in it are big. I think what we’re all enjoying as actors, is just naturally finding the tonal changes that go with what he’s saying. You’re gonna laugh. But you’re also gonna think, ‘Woah, holy shit. Are you kidding me?’ It’s pure Quentin. I just enjoy that. And I don’t know who doesn’t.

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