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Scenes That Quentin Tarantino Actors Were Uncomfortable Filming

Quentin Tarantino burst onto the mainstream film scene with 1992's "Reservoir Dogs," immediately solidifying the distinct style that viewers have grown to love in the years since. Tarantino's films have become recognizable through his non-linear storytelling, snappy dialogue, and gratuitous violence, making him one of the most celebrated auteurs of our generation.

In addition to creating worlds that viewers instantly get sucked into, Tarantino's frequent collaborators are quick to praise the "Pulp Fiction" creator's behavior off-camera. "Quentin is very loving and caring about people — about every single person working on the movie, everyone on the crew," declared "The Hateful Eight" star Jennifer Jason Leigh to Vulture. Tarantino himself has also spoken about his relationship with his co-creators. During an interview on Dax Shepard's "Armchair Expert" podcast, the director revealed that he always tries to make his cast and crew feel like a family and genuinely enjoy the filming experience — to the point where no future jobs will be able to compare.

That said, while many A-listers have supported the Knoxville-born, Los Angeles-raised filmmaker throughout his decades-long career, it doesn't mean they never found certain situations ... awkward. Here are the scenes that Quentin Tarantino actors were uncomfortable filming.

Uma Thurman's discomfort resulted in a horrific car accident

"Pulp Fiction" star Uma Thurman was once one of Quentin Tarantino's most frequent collaborators. The pair had such a professional love for one another that in 2004, Rolling Stone published an interview with the filmmaker where he dubbed Thurman "my muse." But while Tarantino was quick to gush about his leading lady in public, things weren't exactly as they seemed behind the scenes.

As it turns out, during the filming of "Kill Bill," Tarantino put Thurman in an incredibly dicey situation — one she didn't speak out about until 2018. In a shocking interview with the New York Times, Thurman detailed a story about a scene that saw her driving a convertible. An issue arose after Thurman spoke to one of the crew members, who suggested the car might be unsafe to drive. She told Tarantino she wanted a stuntperson to do it. "Quentin came in my trailer and didn't like to hear no ... he was furious," she recounted.

Thurman ultimately cooperated — and the scene nearly cost her life. In footage of the incident that she published on her Instagram, Thurman loses control of the vehicle and smashes into a tree. The accident damaged both her neck and her knees and led to a massive argument with Tarantino. The duo settled their differences years later, with Tarantino finally giving Thurman the footage to share with the public after having it be covered up for years by disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein.

Kurt Russell destroyed a valuable piece of music memorabilia

Set in post-Civil War Wyoming, "The Hateful Eight" follows eight strangers cooped up in a stagecoach lodge while they wait for a blizzard to subside. Among the strangers is bounty hunter John "The Hangman" Ruth (Kurt Russell) and his prisoner, Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who find themselves in a scene with painful real-life consequences.

At one point in the flick, Domergue sits in the lodge and plays a guitar, but her moment of peace is swiftly interrupted by Ruth snatching it away and smashing it to bits right next to her. If you pay attention to Leigh's reaction in the scene, you'll see a look of sheer panic — and she wasn't hamming it up for the camera. As Russell came to find out, the guitar he smashed was a genuine antique from the 19th century, borrowed from the Martin Guitar Museum. According to the film's sound mixer, Mark Ulano, Russell was supposed to grab the guitar and wait for the scene to cut while crew members exchanged the priceless instrument for a double — something that wasn't adequately explained to the actor (per Business Insider).

The museum director was mortified at the destruction of the piece, and although he was reimbursed for the damages, he declared that the company wouldn't be loaning out their guitars to film sets anymore. "Kurt felt terrible; he had no idea," Leigh recalled to Billboard in 2016, noting that her co-star almost wept over his wrongdoing.

Michael Madsen could only think of his son during his Reservoir Dogs torture scene

For anyone who's seen 1992's "Reservoir Dogs," it's almost impossible to listen to the Stealers Wheel hit "Stuck in the Middle with You" without immediately thinking of Michael Madsen's Mr. Blonde grooving to the beat while slicing an ​​LAPD police officer's ear off in an iconic scene from the botched heist flick.

Although Madsen nailed the part of the psychopathic Mr. Blonde, he initially never saw his character as the villain — he figured the audience would appreciate him mutilating a cop in a movie where all the protagonists were criminals. But according to Tarantino, during rehearsals, the director himself played the role of the tortured police officer, at one point blurting out, "I have a little kid at home." Madsen, who had recently had a son, felt immediate discomfort. "That f***** him up," recalled Tarantino (per The Hollywood Reporter). Madsen said he was also intimidated to shoot his deranged dance and almost refused to do it.

While Madsen admits that "Reservoir Dogs" was important in launching his career, he believes his now-iconic role as Mr. Blonde ruined his chances of showing his acting range in the years to come. "Unfortunately, it typecasted me as a bad guy," he told The Hollywood Reporter. "I would prefer to be a leading man."

Samuel L. Jackson warned Quentin Tarantino about one particular line

Throughout his storied career, Quentin Tarantino has become known for his blunt, drawn-out dialogue, which is, more often than not quite aggressive and laden with racial slurs. Naturally, this doesn't sit well with the director's critics. It's been a hot topic of conversation as the years have gone on, from fellow filmmaker Spike Lee's discomfort at the usage of the N-word in 1997's "Jackie Brown" to the mass outrage in 2012's "Django Unchained," which saw the same word uttered a whopping 110 times (via The Hollywood Reporter).

So how do Tarantino's frequent collaborators feel about it? Samuel L. Jackson, who's worked with the director on six different films, admitted to some initial discomfort when he appeared in the 1994 cult classic "Pulp Fiction." Speaking to Esquire, the actor recounted warning Tarantino about a certain scene. After Jackson's character, Jules, and his partner Vincent (John Travolta) accidentally kill a man in the backseat of their car, they head over to Jimmie's (Tarantino) house to figure out a way to clean the mess. The homeowner then says a controversial line. "I warned Quentin about the whole 'ni**er storage.' I was like, 'Don't say [that],'" Jackson explained. Tarantino ultimately kept the line in the flick.

The contentious moment actually changed Jackson's mind on the use of the slur. As he told Esquire, "You can't just tell a writer he can't talk ... because then it becomes an untruth; it's not honest."

Brad Pitt respected Bruce Lee too much for one controversial scene

After "Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood" came out in 2019, Quentin Tarantino's long-anticipated ninth feature film was met with immediate backlash due to the depiction of martial arts legend Bruce Lee on camera. During one scene, Lee (Mike Moh) boasts that he could beat Muhammad Ali (then going by Cassius Clay) in a fight, leading stuntman Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), who's listening in on the conversation, to laughingly disagree. An enraged Lee challenges Booth to a fight, which each man getting knocked down over the course of two rounds before someone else intervenes.

The scene resulted in the real Lee's family calling the depiction of him a "mockery" (via Los Angeles Times). Interestingly enough, if Tarantino had it his way, that "mockery" would have gotten much worse. According to a HuffPost interview with stunt coordinator Robert Alonzo, the original script saw Booth winning a third round against Lee, which didn't sit well with the cast and crew — especially Pitt. "I know that Brad had expressed his concerns," revealed Alonzo, adding that it was actually thanks to the actor's insistence that Tarantino changed the scene.

As for Tarantino himself? According to Moh, he didn't mean any disrespect. As Moh told Collider, "he's a massive Bruce Lee fan," noting that when they first met during the actor's audition, the pair spoke about the martial arts icon for a solid half-hour.

Kerry Washington's mental struggles during Django Unchained

Quentin Tarantino's controversial 2012 spaghetti western, "Django Unchained," was met with criticism after its release, with critics blasting the flick for its jarring depictions of slavery two years before the Civil War, countless racial slurs, and abundance of violence. The film sees ​​Django (Jamie Foxx), a freed slave, and German bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), as they travel through the South hunting criminals, ultimately trying to rescue Django's wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), from a plantation where she's held captive.

In an interview with IndieWire, Washington revealed her initial hesitation to participate in the movie due to the brutal on-screen torture her character is subject to. "I was scared about the places I had to go emotionally and psychologically as an artist," she reflected. Thankfully, she and Foxx were able to lean on one another (having previously worked together on the biopic "Ray") in a shoot that was tough on them both. "If this movie goes on for one week longer, I'm not going to survive it," Washington recalled telling her co-star one evening.

Ultimately, Washington persevered, even snagging a Best Actress award from BET. As she told IndieWire, however, it wasn't easy — at one point during filming, \her parents and manager arrived to support her, and one of the first things Washington did after returning home was call her therapist.

Leonardo DiCaprio needed the support of his co-stars

Kerry Washington wasn't the only actor who had difficulty filming "Django Unchained." While Tarantino (who was born in the South, along with several members of "Django's" main cast) dubbed the flick "a cultural catharsis" (via NPR), filming was difficult for a number of the A-listers involved, including Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays despicable plantation owner Calvin Candie.

"It was really tough," the actor revealed during a chat with the Screen Actors Guild Foundation, adding that he felt incredibly uncomfortable portraying the inhumane character. Thankfully, he said, his co-stars were supportive, particularly Jamie Foxx, who offered up his own encouragement whenever Candie did something horrific.

And while Foxx had a somewhat gentle approach to soothing DiCaprio's nerves, fellow co-star Samuel L. Jackson had a much more blunt way of supporting the Los Angeles-born actor. "I remember Samuel L. Jackson going, 'Get over it motherfu**er,'" Foxx explained to IndieWire, noting that Jackson's words stuck with DiCaprio to the point where when he came back to set the next day, he was completely in character.

Filming The Hateful Eight wasn't a pleasant experience for anyone involved

Quentin Tarantino's 2015 film "The Hateful Eight," shares some similarities with his debut feature, "Reservoir Dogs" — the major one being that both movies mainly take place in one location. "Reservoir Dogs" sees a group of strangers confined to a warehouse, while "The Hateful Eight" places the characters in a stagecoach lodge. And while one would imagine that a movie taking place indoors for the majority of it would be a cushy walk in the park, that was absolutely not the case.

As revealed by The Hollywood Reporter, Tarantino demanded an authentic environment, forgoing shooting the interior shots in a studio and choosing to place his cast in Colorado's sub-zero temperatures for 10 weeks starting in January. Once inside the lodge, the director would reportedly maintain the single room at a 35-degree temperature to keep the performances — and the shivering — realistic. "It was freezing, man," recalled actor Walton Goggins, further revealing that the cast and crew would squeeze themselves under the set lights for warmth.

Thankfully, the grueling time on set led the film's stars to bond and ultimately look forward to the end result — something that Samuel L. Jackson mentioned to Collider. "We were miserable in the environment. You could see our breath, but the stuff that we were doing was amazing."

Pam Grier and Samuel L. Jackson's awkward Jackie Brown moment

1997's "Jackie Brown" is Quentin Tarantino's most subtle film. While the director is usually known for his over-the-top flashiness through his visuals and dialogue, "Jackie Brown" takes a reserved approach, forgoing experimental camerawork and choosing to tell a more gentle, human story. We meet Jackie Brown (Pam Grier), a flight attendant who smuggles cash for her gunrunner boss (Samuel L. Jackson). Once the police catch her, they demand she cooperate with them — but our plucky lead has a plan to keep the cash for herself.

Filming such an understated Tarantino film may sound easier than partaking in one of his more violent epics, but that doesn't mean there wasn't at least one uncomfortable moment on set. As Grier revealed to "PeopleTV's Couchsurfing," one scene of the crime flick sees her character holding a gun to Jackson's nether regions. However, she wasn't allowed to use a weapon during rehearsals due to insurance reasons. "I had to use my hand to stick between his legs," she explained, adding that what followed was an awkward apology. "Wow, I didn't know they were way down there," Grier sheepishly told Jackson, adding that she'd be a lot more confident when the time came to use an actual weapon (per CinemaBlend).

Lawrence Tierney made Reservoir Dogs uncomfortable for everyone

The late, great Lawrence Tierney was already a Hollywood staple by the time he starred in Quentin Tarantino's feature directorial debut, "Reservoir Dogs." According to The Hollywood Reporter, Tierney earned his acting stripes being typecast as a villain, usually portraying mafiosos and thieves — and his off-camera persona wasn't particularly warm, either. As the actor's star power grew, he became increasingly more temperamental.

As Tarantino told The Guardian, when he cast Tierney as crime boss Joe Cabot in his 1992 crime classic, his first few weeks of shooting were pure torture. "Tierney was a complete lunatic," the director declared, adding that he shot Tierney's scenes first in a hellish opening week. At the end of Tierney's last day, he and Tarantino got into a full-blown fist fight. "I fired him," Tarantino said, "and the whole crew burst into applause."

Although the then-newbie director thought that getting rid of Tierney would ruin his chances at a big break in Hollywood, he fortunately had the movie's biggest star on his side — Harvey Keitel assured the studio that everything would turn out fine, and the rest is history.

Uma Thurman was absolutely terrified of dancing in Pulp Fiction

Uma Thurman and John Travolta's dance scene in "Pulp Fiction" remains one of the most iconic moments in '90s cinema. As explained by The Daily Beast, the scene was inspired by Jean-Luc Godard's 1964 classic "Bande à part" (as was the name of Tarantino's production company, A Band Apart) — the French New Wave director filmed Tarantino's most adored cinematic dance numbers.

Most of the scene was improvised, and Travolta didn't seem to have many issues with it, but the same can't be said of Thurman — at least until after the cameras started to roll. "I was more afraid of the dancing than almost anything because it was exactly to my total insecurity," the actress told Variety in 2019, crediting her youth and lanky build as the culprits. Thankfully, she added, once the dancing actually began, she adored the experience.

In a funny and heartfelt moment at the 2022 Academy Awards, Thurman and Travolta took the stage (alongside Samuel L. Jackson) to celebrate the film's 28th anniversary. The two actors briefly recreated their legendary dance, with Thurman quipping, "Maybe later we'll have a $5 milkshake."