Only months after I finished reading “Kill Bill Diary,” David Carradine died of mysterious causes. He choked himself doing… well, you can probably imagine. Anyway, while he was alive, he starred in Tarantino’s comeback film “Kill Bill”; you may not remember this, but Tarantino vanished in Kubrick-like fashion for seven years after “Jackie Brown”. He was almost forgotten. And David Carradine brought him back.
Okay, Carradine did not bring Tarantino back. A number of actors could have played Bill, and in fact, the first one was Warren Beatty, who got tired of the Kung Fu training and suggested Carradine, who wound playing the role many actors would have killed for. And also, writing a diary about his experiences, because he was an industry veteran who understood how to squeeze every penny out of his actions.
You learn this in Carradine’s diary entries in what is probably the most informative Tarantino document (Jane Hamspher’s “The Killer Instinct” is a close second). You also learn that actors get paid peanuts to be in a Tarantino movie. Seriously, the prize is getting to be in the film. In fact, Carradine was paid so little, he was making less than what he would have made from his numerous comic book appearances, etc. which was his day job. The big payoff was, of course, also that he would get tons of new opportunities form being in Tarantino’s new movie.
Actors complained, not just because of the pay, but the demand Tarantino placed on them. Months of martial arts training. Tarantino was part of this at the time, because he was also going to be in the film. Carradine, who had directed films himself, even asked Tarantino why he wanted to act so badly, when he was already a great writer/ director. You could tell from the conversation that Quentin will always yearn to be in front of the camera. Will always envy his actors. He’s just wise enough to understand his limits.
There are lots of juicy anecdotes in this volume. And as I have said before, you can learn a lot more about a director in a book written by an observer. I’m eagerly awaiting the Kubrick book written by his longtime assistant, Stanley Kubrick and Me: Thirty Years at His Side. I would just as excitedly await a book about Tarantino’s Kraft service person. Kill Bill Diary is a good start. RIP Carrandine.
Written by: Norith Soth