BEVERLY HILLS, California — In the eyes of many film fans, Quentin Tarantino's characters are as real as their friends and family — only way cooler. In colleges around the world, people still have the character posters from "Reservoir Dogs" on their walls. At the most recent Comic-Con, girls were walking around dressed as the Bride from "Kill Bill."
Now, the "Pulp Fiction" mastermind has a new movie with this week's "Inglourious Basterds — so, as the writer/director got ready to unleash a new group of instantly classic characters, we asked his stars to name their favorite all-time QT creation.
" 'Pulp Fiction' flat-out changed my life. I remember sitting in the movie theater, I was like 14, and it was so funny and it was so cool," remembered B.J. Novak, the actor/writer/producer from "The Office" who had a dream come true when Tarantino cast him as one of his Nazi-killing "Basterds" soldiers. "The Wolf. No, Marsellus Wallace. No, I think Mia Wallace might be my favorite."
Although 1994's Oscar-winning "Fiction" had so many great characters to choose from, Novak eventually settled on Uma Thurman's dancing, dishing, drugged-out mobster wife. "I remember having such a crush on her," he laughed. "The first time you saw Mia Wallace, you knew exactly why John Travolta would make all those mistakes. That was a cool character."
"God, that's tough," laughed Eli Roth, a collaborator with Tarantino (the "Hostel" films) who stepped in front of the camera for "Basterds" to play baseball-bat-wielding Nazi killer Donny Donowitz. "My first favorite character is Mr. Blonde [from 'Reservoir Dogs'], and I love the Wolf, and I love Floyd [from 'True Romance']. But Stuntman Mike [from 'Death Proof'], I thought, was just genius. Maybe it's because he's a little underappreciated, so I feel like I have to speak up on behalf of Stuntman Mike, but Kurt Russell was so perfect with that feathered hair, the Icy Hot patches, the jacket and his tapered '80s jeans and the boots. ... He was such a psycho, in the way he ate nachos and his scar and just the way he dressed."
"I'd say Mr. Pink in 'Reservoir Dogs,' " said Michael Fassbender, citing the performance that made Steve Buscemi a household name. "It really influenced me. At the time when I started off in this career; I played him myself in a stage version. ... It was in a small town called Killarney in southwest Ireland. I got my friends together and directed 'Reservoir Dogs' in our local nightclub. So it's got a special place in my heart."
Gedeon Burkhard and Zoe Bell, two more proud "Basterds," each agreed on the best Tarantino character of all time: Vincent Vega. "I love John Travolta in 'Pulp Fiction,' " grinned Bell, a veteran stuntwoman/actress in Tarantino's films. "Just the name is sick. I fell in love with Travolta all over again when I watched that movie, and I was already a bit of a 'Grease' fan at that point."
"Yeah, it still has to be John Travolta in 'Pulp Fiction,' " Burkhard agreed. "That's just the ultimate in cool. Through the years, you can always find something new, as many times as you watch it."
In the minds of some, however, the best Tarantino character hits the silver screen on Friday.
"You know who I like? I mean, in this one there are two that I think are amazing," Brad Pitt said. "But Christoph Waltz as the Jew Hunter. It's pretty tough to beat, isn't it? I'm going to go with that one right now."
And as for anyone who might choose Pitt's "True Romance" character of pot-smoking, gangster-entertaining honey-bear aficionado Floyd? "Fantastic!" Brad Pitt laughed when he heard that his 1993 character was among the most beloved of Tarantino's creations. "Well, thank you very much!"
Check out everything we've got on "Inglourious Basterds."
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