Quentin Tarantino has been making some media rounds of late, promoting the novelization of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. With it, he’s addressing some of his future plans for his career as well as some of the criticism he’s faced over various scenes in the movie. One of those latter pieces came from Bruce Lee’s daughter who took umbrage with the way her father was portrayed in the film. Tarantino explained his process on that front and definitely didn’t issue any apologies. If anything, Quentin Tarantino fired right back at the accusation that he did something untoward in terms of how he handled the character of Bruce Lee.
During an interview on the Joe Rogan Podcast, Quentin Tarantino took the time to respond to Shannon Lee, the daughter of Bruce Lee, and her complaints about her father’s portrayal in the movie. The latter had lamented in an interview back in October that the portrayal was unfair and a misrepresentation. Here’s what she had to say (among many other things) at the time:
He could have a temper sometimes, but he did not go around challenging people to fights. Certainly not after he was a teenager. Anyway, he didn’t behave or boast in that way…My father worked extremely hard and directly toward the idea of authentic representation in Hollywood for an Asian man, so I don’t think he would’ve gone around beating up stunt people and that kind of stuff as a way of furthering his cause.
To this end, Quentin Tarantino had some pointed words when talking to Rogan about why he chose to represent Bruce Lee in a certain way in the movie. At first, he conceded that he understood Shannon Lee’s frustration, saying that any daughter would react this way to her father being seen in a negative light on the screen. But in terms of the validity behind the representation and characterization of Bruce Lee in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Tarantino had this to say:
I’m a little hesitant to talk about this because I don’t want this to be the only thing that people pull from this show…The stuntmen hated Bruce on The Green Hornet… It’s called tagging when you hit a stuntman for real. He was always tagging them with his feet and his fist and it got to the point where they would refuse to work with Bruce. He had nothing but disrespect for American stuntmen..
In this way, Quentin Tarantino isn’t backing down at all for how he chose to show Bruce Lee in the movie. He’s taking it from some context at least. The scene involving Lee in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is when Brad Pitt’s Cliff Booth and Lee come at odds on the set of Green Hornet. After a long Lee soliloquy detailing the differences between fighters in America in which he laments not being able to truly kill anyone in a martial arts tournament, Booth laughs at him, and the two square off. After luring Lee in with the first move, Booth then slams Lee into a car to win the second point. They are evenly matched for the final piece of the bout before it’s interrupted.
Quentin Tarantino has never been one to apologize for anything in his films, something that’s drawn him criticism in the past, but not a career choice he plans on implementing anytime soon. Regarding Bruce Lee, whether it was a fair representation or not, the director believes he did so from a place of reference. It might not make it correct and he’s had to answer more than a few questions about the portrayal. But he’s not backing off of it at all. That much is for sure.
And the professionalism of Bruce Lee wasn’t the only thing Quentin Tarantino has had an opinion on during the tour around the interview circuit. On Real Time with Bill Maher, the director spoke about the issues with art versus ideology in Hollywood these days, saying it was more difficult to make movies that wouldn’t offend people in our current environment. This was related to the news that his next film, the 10th in his catalog, would be his last. At that point, there won’t be any more criticism levied at the director. He might just be calling it quits.