UPDATED: May 1, 2014
Watch a just released behind the scenes video, most likely the only one you’ll ever see, from Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight Live Read last month in downtown L.A. And if you missed out on this amazing event, read all about the highlights of the unforgettable night in our post below.
On Saturday night, April 19, 2014, Quentin Tarantino brought his notoriously leaked and “shelved” The Hateful Eight script out for a spin. 1200 lucky fans eagerly awaited this once in a lifetime opportunity taking place in downtown Los Angeles at the beautiful and historic, Theatre at Ace Hotel. Tonight, for one night only, Tarantino would direct a live a reading of his five chapter western with his cast of superstars.
The very cool and magnetic Elvis Mitchell, curator of the film series Film Independent at LACMA, introduced the rock star director. Tarantino took the stage in full-blown cowboy attire and basked in the explosive energy of the room, iterating this was a first draft and there would be a second draft, a third draft and so on. Message to fans: it is very likely he will make this film afterall, prior script drama aside.
The actors only had three days of rehearsal. Tarantino didn’t anticipate the read to be anything spectacular and his nervous uncertainty to proceed with the evening seemed genuine, admitting, “I’m wondering why I thought this was a good idea three weeks ago.” He then quickly reminded everyone, “The Chapter 5 here will not be the Chapter 5 later, so this will be the only time it is seen ever.” And with that, QT introduced his star-studded cast and the audience greeted each actor with a passionate and appreciative standing ovation. I mean…
The room settled. Tarantino opened his script on a podium downstage right and began to read his very ‘Tarantino’ opening scene – “Chapter One. Last Stage to Red Rock.”
Ext. White Winter Wyoming Mountain Range – Snowy Day
A breathtaking 70MM filmed (as is the whole movie) snow covered mountain range. A staggering open vista, set to appropriately nerve jangling music. Then in the bottom left of this big 70MM SUPER CINEMASCOPE FRAME, we see a STAGECOACH being pulled by a team of SIX HORSES rip snorting through the bottom of the landscape.
And so began the amazing three and a half hour reading. In case you do not know what H8TFL8 is about, this is the plot in a very, fragile nutshell.
A bounty hunter and his prisoner traveling by stagecoach to a town called Red Rock get stuck in a blizzard and meet other travelers along the way that need a lift. Sidetracked by the blizzard, they stop at a nearby haberdashery to take shelter until the storm passes. While holed up in this haberdashery waiting out the blizzard, coincidences stop looking like coincidences, enemies become allies, secrets escape, and lots of living things get dead.
In the spirit of this event – it wasn’t recorded – it will never be heard or seen by anyone other than those in that theatre and a play by play recap would never do this living, breathing piece justice. Tarantino and friends were working it out, as do all actors and directors at some point of a project’s development. Like a spectacular crack of lightning illuminating a vast western sky, this night can never be repeated or accurately captured in spite of the awe it inspired at that very moment in time. With that…
Memorable scenes: Chris Mannix’s plea to get on the stagecoach. Major Marquis Warren’s recap of the death of Confederate General Smithers’s son and Daisy’s unwavering contempt throughout the story.
Hilarious moment: Samuel L. Jackson could not contain himself when reading an explicit blow-job monologue, saying, “I can’t believe I’m reading this – oh the visuals.”
Speaking of the visuals. This script is more reminiscent of Reservoir Dogs than the epic Inglorious Basterds. As it stands, there are really only three main locations: the stagecoach, the Wyoming landscape and Minnie’s haberdashery. It is a very verbose script mixing typical Tarantino humor with violence and witty exchanges and most of the story keeps the actors very contained and close together.
Picking the star of the show is easy…Tarantino. The audience got an unimaginable rare sneak peak of the brilliant auteur at work. The man spoke his own written words and directed his all-star cast like it was a private rehearsal. He had no qualms about redirecting important moments and telling the actors to stop improvising and “co-writing” his script. He whispered directorial notes in Jackson’s and Roth’s ears. He told Madsen to “do it again” when he didn’t buy his delivery and lack of enthusiasm or…will to survive. Goggins worked his ass off and was largely off-book but still got the QT redirect when he sat in the wrong chair or didn’t fully concentrate on his final stand-off, being told to “drop your gun” and “just talk to him.” Even the audience was told to be quiet after a brief intermission brought back chatty fans, slightly disrupting the final act. And finally, there was our Maestro, our conductor, our ring leader, so persistent with that damn blue coffee pot…
The show closed with many bodies on the floor. Surprise! Though the final act will certainly be rewritten it was a real cool experience to witness the first draft in action. Overall, the night produced unforgettable dialogue and such specific visual references that only a film can truly capture – in all of it’s 70MM gloriousness. So here’s to draft number two and three and so on and ultimately seeing this cowboy tale – a little John Wayne/John Ford mixed with Ten Little Indians, crossed with some Howard Hawks Rio Bravo, play out on the big screen – hopefully real soon.