Quentin Tarantino is visionary, there's no doubt about that. Whether you're a fan of his movies or not. Whether you even like the guy or not. You can't deny that this writer-director is a cinematic genius. His unconventionality, devotion to classic Hollywood tropes, and quirky storytelling have all made a stamp in the history of the cinema. It also led to some of the best films ever made.
But part of his success is how he casts his characters. More often than not, Tarantino has a say in the actors who star in his films. And it led to some of the finest screen acting ever filmed. Here are a few of them that are worth noting.
Christoph Waltz in Inglorious Basterds
He may have been a relative newcomer in Hollywood at the time, but Christoph Waltz seemed like a seasoned pro in his portrayal of the jew-hunting nazi Hans Landa in "Inglorious Basterds."
The key to his success was the subtlety of his approach. Sure, Nazis are terrifying, but they're at they're most sinister when they're calm, cool, and collected. The way he made Melanie Laurent's 'Shosanna' fearful for her life just by simply dining with her in a fancy Parisian restaurant was chilling. And the way he so calmly suffocated Diane Kruger's 'Bridget von Hammersmark' was spine-tingling. He definitely deserved that Oscar that year!
Uma Thurman in Kill Bill
Uma Thurman was one of Tarantino's best muses. Though she was enchanting as 'Mia Wallace' in Pulp Fiction, her casting as 'The Bride' in the Kill Bill movies was one of the director's best yet.
In this series, Thurman perfectly encapsulated the scorned woman. At the same time, her approach was unique and central to her character. Above all else, 'The Bride' was a trained assassin, so even with all her rage and desire for reverence, she had to be calculated with every move she made. That's almost how Thurman portrayed the role. Every decision and nuanced she made as an actress contributed to her stellar performance.
Leonardo DiCaprio in Django Unchained
Leonard DiCaprio and Quentin Tarantino is a match made in heaven. One of the finest actors of this generation working with one of the best writers and directors of the era in "Django Unchained".
The film's 'Calvin Candie' character called for an actor of unmitigated intensity, and DiCaprio showcased down in all of his scenes. He was terrifying, but also charming, violent, yet elegant. It was a twisted mix of qualities that only Tarantino can sum up in one of his quirky characters. To this day, it still one of the biggest travesties that DiCaprio wasn't even nominated for an Oscar for that performance.
Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction
Samuel L. Jackson wouldn't be the screen icon he is today without 'Pulp Fiction". Tarantino allowed the first-class thespian to let out his inner gangster and become the role, and boy did he ever. Every time he uttered the words, "motherfu**er," you were convinced Jackson was 'Jules Winnfield.' It' was as if movie audiences were just witnessing someone live out their daily lives on screen.
That was the power Jackson emanated in inhibiting that role. He became Winnfield, not just played him. And so, even having played more famous characters in more successful movie franchises, Pulp Fiction remains to be Jackon's most iconic role.
Here’s to hoping Tarantino never retires from making movies. We need his sort of genius to push actors to bring out their best performances!