This week, Michael Madsen stars in Hell Ride, a blood-soaked, T&A-packed ode to the biker movies of yore. His character, the Gent, like just about every character he's ever played, kicks a whole lot of ass. I sat down with the gravelly-voiced actor recently and got him to talk not only about Hell Ride, but also Quentin Tarantino's upcoming Inglorious Bastards, Sin City 2, and, most remarkably, about the fabled "sequel" to both Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction that would feature his character from Dogs, Vic Vega, reunited with his cinematic brother from Fiction, Vincent Vega (John Travolta).
Cole Haddon: You don't hide the fact that a lot of movies you've been in have turned out to be crap. How do you feel about Hell Ride?
Michael Madsen: I'm really happy with it. I think it's one of those pictures that has a personality that's different and destined to be ... I don’t know. Far be it from me to predict anything. But I just think it's going to have some longevity.
CH: Kids love playing shoot 'em up, and then some, like you, grow up and get to do it for a living. Does being an onscreen badass still thrill you?
MM: Depending on who you're surrounded by, yes. Depending on whether or not you're being exploited or used to express that genre by people who don't know what the genre's about -- when they want to put Michael Madsen in their movie because he's done it before and you think he's going to save your movie -- then it's a drag. But if you're surrounded by people who understand there's a little more complexity to it than the pulling of a trigger, then it's a real pleasure. That's what it was like with Hell Ride, why it was so much fun to make.
CH: Are you still attached to Inglorious Bastards?
MM: Well, that's a big mystery right now. You'd have to ask Quentin. I know Tim Roth and I were attached to it for two or three years. He told me what my character's name was, and we talked a lot about it. But seeing he has this deal with The Weinstein Company and now they seem to be going to the studios, I'm not really sure. I'm hopeful there'll be a role in there for me somewhere.
CH: How about Sin City 2? Can you say for sure if Bob is coming back?
MM: Verbally, Robert Rodriguez [said] yes. But it's the same as Quentin -- verbally agreeing to have me in Bastards. Until Business Affairs calls my manager, it's not a reality.
CH: Finally, I'm hoping you can at least tease me with the hint of an answer here. Has Tarantino ever discussed with you what the proposed The Vega Brothers prequel would have been about? It's obviously not going to happen anymore.
MM: I wouldn't say it's obviously not going to happen, but, for those who wonder what was in the briefcase in Pulp Fiction, I've often said it was the script to The Vega Brothers. It wouldn't be my decision not to do it. It would be John's, who would most likely resist the doing of that, of course forgetting that Quentin turned his life around and changed the course of his career. Quentin, at one time, told me The Vega Brothers could never happen ... because it would have to be a prequel and John doesn't look the same anymore. And neither do I. Then he went off to Mexico ... and had a little holiday in Tijuana. When he got back, he called me up and said, 'I know how we can make The Vega Brothers. You guys will be the twin brothers of Vincent and Vic and you're both coming back to L.A. to avenge the deaths of your brothers. You're both on a flight to Los Angeles and you don't know he even exists.' I thought that was a cool idea. There's a lot more on how he'd do that, but I couldn't reveal that to you. I'm all for it, though. I'd never say never.
CH: Wow. I mean, wow. That’s more than I thought I'd ever get on the subject.