Read on to find out about their 9.a.m Tequila parties and what it was like getting bloody on set.
D’Marge: Kurt, this is your second film with Quentin Tarantino. How did you find it this time compared to your first?
Kurt Russell: He was more focused on this. I found it to be one of the best experiences I’ve ever had on the set because of the particular group of actors he put together. The experience was just that good.
D’Marge: Sam, it’s been twenty years since Pulp Fiction and you’re still playing a bad arse with guns in The Hateful Eight. Was it like putting back on the old shoes?
Samuel L. Jackson: No. I wear boots! Jules is a philosopher living another kind of life. Major Warren’s a different guy; different time, different experiences, totally different background, but as usual Quentin made him smart and introspective. A little more ruthless than Jules I would think. I don’t think he values life the same way Jules might.
K: I found that the Major (Jackson’s character) carried some root anger.
D: Would you say he’s still a trigger-happy kind of guy?
S: No, not trigger happy. He doesn’t have to tolerate a lot here. He can get away with shit.
D: Tell us about the setting of the film – three-quarters of it is literally set within the confines of four walls.
K: It was like a play. We rehearsed it like a play. We needed that time to rehearse. We understood 90% of it [the film] but the 10% we didn’t understand, we needed to get from Quentin. We needed to have the time to find the things that made it a more entertaining experience.
S: We established so many things in that room. The power of this person who comes into this place and tells everybody that ‘I’m taking your gun’. And to just bully the whole room. And we’re talking about people with guns.
D: Quentin has scripted some complex characters. Did it take long to get into the roles?
K: Longer than I’ve done in a long time.
S: We did a week of rehearsal before the stage reading. Once he decided we were going to do it [the film], we started rehearsing.
K: We started on November 6th and we broke on December the 15th.
S: By then we had minis hooked up, walking around the room. out in the parking lot with the stage coach doing stuff.
D: The film takes place in a blizzard. Did the snow affect your performance?
S: The snow changes everything. We rehearsed everything in nice weather.
K: It did. Jennifer [Jason Leigh] and I, we both read the same script and said, “yeah let’s chain ourselves up”. Try getting in and out of a stage coach when you’ve got one arm chained in the snow.
D: And how did you guys find it working with each other?
S: It was a wonderful experience. When you trust people on the other side…we’ve worked with actors that you don’t know what’s going to happen when you get on set. When you say ‘action’ and they can’t even remember their name.
K: With a gun in their hand [laughs].
S: You totally want to make sure they don’t have a real weapon in their hands! We had such a great bunch of people. Such a conscientious bunch of people in terms of how they wanted it to work. And knowing that it had worked with Quentin before at a certain higher level, you see what happens when you show up and you’re ready to go and Quentin says, ‘alright, everybody else needs to learn their lines too’.
There’s no pressure there, but because you’re watching these people and you want to be in the game, you’ve got to play at a certain level.
K: Sometimes it can be challenging to keep your interest in certain scenes and challenging for others to keep their interest in you. At least that’s my experience. When it’s [other] people you want to watch them work as much as working with them. It’s not just a fun day when you just go out there to do the lines.
When Sam was getting ready to do the thing with Bruce [Dern], we were asking, ‘is Sam going to do that thing to do today?’ We wanted to know that. We didn’t want to miss that. That’s the one great pleasure we have of seeing it before anyone else does.
D: Did anything entertaining happen on set?
S: There’s always good music, there’s always good conversation, there’s always a joke going on. You get to one hundred reels and they have the big party everyday.
K: The one hundred reel party was awesome! No matter if it was day or night. Remember Tequila at 9.a.m in the morning? I had some dialogue to do and all my life I’ve worked with Greg and I forgot his name. I was a real bad drunk. From then on I said I’ll never drink when I’m going to work. But then you say, ‘what do you do? Not take part in the party?’
Next thing, Quentin’s got a shot of Tequila screaming ‘congratulations on the 300th reel!’. And you go, ‘yeah’. Crew’s plastered, everybody’s like ‘bam! bam!’.
D: The characters in the film certainly take on a life of their own. Is that good scripting or good acting?
S: It’s a combination of both. Quentin writes and you have to play the truth on what’s on the page. Even if you’re lying, you can’t look at the audience and tell them you’re lying.
K: There’s only two characters that everybody knows is not lying. You know why they’re there, you know what they’re doing. Then they come in degrees of suspicion.
D: In one simple word, what can those who haven’t seen The Hateful Eight expect?
K: It’s entertaining.
D: Surprised no one said blood.
S: They already know that!