Let us give thanks to the milk-drinking maniac, the scalp-collecting Nazi killers, the beautiful Holocaust survivor who plotted to blow the Third Reich to smithereens! Yes, give it up for “Inglourious Basterds,” for Christoph Waltz’s evil, opportunistic Nazi colonel, for Brad Pitt’s Southern-fried lieutenant and his band of brothers, for a deftly interwoven tale about vengeance, violence and sin. And let us sing the praises of the man who made it all happen: writer/director Quentin Tarantino.
In a year teeming with mega-budget franchises based on children’s toys and comic books and other variously recycled ideas, “Basterds” may not have been the biggest film of 2009, but it was arguably the most affecting, and it gave moviegoers hope that Hollywood could still deliver original stories that were also broadly entertaining (and profitable). In an exclusive chat with MTV News, Tarantino looked back at the filmmaking process and the movie’s critical and box-office triumph and revealed that we just might be seeing more of these Basterds in the future
MTV: 2009 was not your first brush with success, obviously, but the movie was so critically acclaimed and it became the highest-grossing of your career. Did this year feel like a landmark for you?
Quentin Tarantino: It definitely, definitely does. I managed to do what I wanted to do when I did this movie — which I’m very proud of — was the fact that one of the reasons I was hurrying the movie up into production, and I kind of did it really quickly, and people have been saying it, is because I wanted to make the Cannes Film Festival, and that’s true. But another part of it was just the fact that I wanted to make a really groovy movie before the decade was over. I think I’ve already made a groovy movie since the decade’s been in, but I wanted to make another one before it goes out.
MTV: It was a pretty wide-ranging year for you. You traveled around the world with Brad Pitt talking about Nazis and you appeared as a guest judge on “American Idol.” Is there one moment in particular that kind of sticks out to you and sort of creatively encapsulates 2009 for you?
Tarantino: I was still making the movie in Germany at the start of year. We had a little bit of a Christmas break, and New Year’s, we were back. We were back there till at least February, is when we came back after we started editing the movie. So in that regard, this whole experience has been very, very connected, both writing it, to shooting it, to editing it, to being in Cannes, to preparing for the release. But I can actually say after traveling all around the world, and then doing all the work we did on the film, when he had such a great opening weekend, and on Sunday, one of my producers and [actors] Eli Roth came up to tell me what the figures were, ’cause I didn’t know, and they knocked on the door and they were wearing T-shirts that said $37-point-whatever million.
MTV: What goes through your head at that point?
Tarantino: It feels really great. I never knew I’d make a movie that would do that well on an opening weekend, so that was pretty groovy. One of the things that’s also great is how well it’s done everywhere. What’s cool about it — at its very coolest — is the fact that the planet Earth was responding to the movie, and it’s not the normal tent-pole kind of multiplex-friendly movie. It’s not the kind of thing that you make in the summer to just feed to the multiplexes and then all around the world people show up. It’s different than that. It’s not better, but it is different. And I do think that it’s a situation where my fans did show up, and Brad Pitt’s fans showed up, and that all actually added up to a whole lot. However, I actually do think a lot of it was just they liked the script. They liked the story that they were being told. They were actually being told a story. People went back to see it again, or they went and told their friends that they had a good time at the theaters and they went and saw it.
MTV: Initially when you were writing the script over the years, the story grew and grew and you even thought of doing a miniseries. Since there’s so much material there, have you thought about returning to the territory? Is there more “Inglorious Bastards” for you? Is there another story to tell?
Tarantino: There is another story involving these characters that I could tell. I just have to figure out when to do it and go over the material and everything. But there are a couple other stories that I have in mind involving these characters, in particular the Basterds and also other characters that got dropped from this story. If Brad will have his way, then it will happen.
MTV: Wow, the making of a mini “Basterds” franchise. Those soldiers are like your comic book superheroes.
Tarantino: Yeah, they are kind of comic booky. A big influence on the Basterds was Marvel Comics’ “Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos.” That was definitely an influence on that flick.
MTV: What do you make of some of this Oscar talk involving “Basterds”? Do you dial into that, or is it just horse-race type stuff?
Tarantino: There is a coolness about it. I’ve had a career now for about 17 years. I came out in ’92. So I’ve been around for a little bit now, I can officially say that. It’s always really cool to have your film be talked about at the end of the year come Oscar time. It’s always cool to be invited to that big party. You’re around the crème de la crème of the industry during that time when everyone’s kind of celebrating our end of the year. You meet people you never see, these wonderful Hollywood legends, these artists, whether they be actors, writers or directors or producers that you admire. It’s really old Hollywood, and it’s really groovy. That lasts for the rest of your career. And actually having your films in one of the winners’ circles is really cool.
MTV: In addition to being thankful about 2009, we’re also getting excited about 2010 and beyond. What’s next for you? Will it be “Kill Bill”?
Tarantino: There’s no script; there are just ideas and notes. I won’t do that next, but it could very well be the thing I do after next.
MTV: So do you know what is going to be next for you? You’ve talked about a lot of different projects, including a sort of spaghetti western that deals with American slavery.
Tarantino: I’m thinking about a few different things. The [slavery film] is definitely in the garden. That is definitely one of my roses. But you know what I’m looking forward to next year? I’m looking forward to Christoph Waltz winning Best Villain at the MTV Movie Awards!
Thanksgiving is a time for taking stock, expressing gratitude and, most importantly, overeating. We at MTV News have been gorging all year at movie theaters, so it’s about time we looked back and gave thanks to our favorite actors and filmmakers of 2009. So in this special week, we celebrate [news id=”1626820″]J.J. Abrams and Chris Pine[/news] for bringing “Star Trek” back into our lives; [news id=”1626914″]Tom Hardy[/news] for such an unexpectedly powerful turn in “Bronson”; Quentin Tarantino for blowing our minds with his ” Inglourious Basterds”; [news id=”1627015″]Sam Rockwell[/news] for the amazingly inventive indie “Moon”; [news id=”1627110″]Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel[/news] for redefining how cool and cute a couple could be in “(500) Days of Summer”; and our ultimate winner, [news id=”1627058″]Ryan Reynolds[/news], for a trio of memorable roles in vastly different (but all super entertaining) flicks like “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” “The Proposal” and “Adventureland”. Enjoy our exclusive interviews with all our winners all week long.
Check out everything we’ve got on “Inglourious Basterds.”
For breaking news, celebrity columns, humor and more — updated around the clock — visit MTVMoviesBlog.com.