Quentin Tarantino on Monday talked to Deadline about criticism of him choking Uma Thurman and Diane Kruger for scenes in two different movies.
The controversy was sparked after Thurman spoke to the New York Times for a piece that largely focused on allegations that Harvey Weinstein had sexually assaulted her.
However, the story also revealed how Tarantino had participated in choking Thurman and spitting on her face for two scenes in the Kill Bill films, prompting some blowback on social media.
On Monday, Tarantino responded to the criticism in an interview with Deadline, saying: "For some reason there is a lot of hay being made out of this, which I don’t understand, at all."
For the spitting scene, Tarantino said he didn't believe that actor Michael Madsen, who played Budd in Kill Bill: Volume 1, would be able to perform the act properly. And the director said he didn't ask a stuntperson to do it because they'd be too "intimidated" by Thurman, which could mean multiple takes to get the scene right.
To spare Thurman having to do repeated takes, Tarantino told Deadline he took it upon himself to do the task.
"So I asked Uma. I said, 'I think I need to do it. I’ll only do it twice, at the most, three times. But I can’t have you laying here, getting spit on, again and again and again, because somebody else is messing it up by missing,'' Tarantino recalled.
As for the choking scene, Tarantino said he had trouble deciding how best to shoot it since it involved a chain wrapped around Thurman's throat.
"I was assuming that when we did it, we would have maybe a pole behind Uma that the chain would be wrapped around so it wouldn’t be seen by the camera, at least for the wide shot," the director told Deadline.
The filmmaker said it was Thurman's suggestion to "wrap the thing around her neck, and choke her."
"'I can act all strangle-ey,'" Tarantino recalled Thurman saying. "'But if you want my face to get red and the tears to come to my eye, then you kind of need to choke me.'"
In another film he directed, Inglourious Basterds, Kruger's character, Bridget von Hammersmark, is choked to death by Christoph Waltz's SS Colonel Hans Landa. Once again, Tarantino stepped in to choke the actor.
"I said, 'Look, I’ve got to strangle you,'" Tarantino said he told Kruger before filming the scene. "If it’s just a guy with his hands on your neck, not putting any kind of pressure and you’re just doing this wiggling death rattle, it looks like a normal movie strangulation. It looks movie-ish."
With Kruger's permission, he said that he asked the actor if it was alright to "just…commit to choking you, with my hands, in a closeup. We do it for 30 seconds or so, and then I stop."
Per Tarantino, she agreed. He also said a stuntperson was "monitoring the whole thing."
Tarantino's aim for the scenes in both films, he said, were to give a "realistic effect."
Despite the director's explanations, many on social media called out his treatment of Thurman and Kruger as "sinister" and abusive under the guise of making art.
Others accused the director of abusing his power.
And wondered why there were no alternatives to the choking scenes he ultimately filmed.
Kruger, however, addressed the controversy with a post on her Instagram account Tuesday, saying Tarantino "treated me with utter respect and never abused his power or forced me to do anything I wasn’t comfortable with."
Michael Blackmon is an entertainment writer with BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Michael Blackmon at email@example.com.
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