Twenty-five years ago this week, Quentin Tarantino shocked the world with his ultra-violent directorial debut Reservoir Dogs. To celebrate, here are 10 little-known stories from the ultimate cult movie.
‘Tom Waits auditioned for it
“A lot of really wild people came in,” Tarantino revealed during a special cast reunion at Tribeca Film Festival this year. “I had [singer-songwriter]Tom Waits read the Madonna speech, just so I could hear Tom Waits say those lines.” Luckily for QT, the gravel-voiced legend didn’t mind wasting his time. “He gave me one of the first profound compliments on the script,”he added. “He said, ‘That script’s great. It’s like poetry.’ Nobody had ever called my work poetic before, and by a poet no less. That felt pretty good.”
It got Michael Fassbender into acting
The Irish-German heartthrob was only a fledgling thespian when ‘Reservoir Dogs’ hit cinemas back in 1992. But that didn’t stop him, three years later and at the tender age of 18, from staging his own version in Killarney– with all profits going to charity. Tarantino’s response? “So long as nobody was making money out of my s**t!”
Wes Craven couldn’t handle it
Tarantino’s love of gore can be overbearing at the best of times, but you’d expect horror legends to cope. Not so with Wes Craven. The director led a mass walkout of a R’eservoir Dogs’ screening at Sitges Film Festival in 1992. “The f**king guy who did ‘Last House On The Left’ walked out! My movie’s too tough for him?” boggled Tarantino at Tribeca.
Tarantino got Tim Roth pissed for his audition
“I can’t audition. I’m crap at it,” Roth told People magazine earlier this month. And 25 years ago, he refused to read for the part of Mr Orange. Until Tarantino got him totally pissed, that is. “He started to write the script out on beer mats,” says Roth. “Then we went back to my flat, got more beer and proceeded to read the entire script… every part about 10 times because we were hammered by then. That’s how I got the job. Basically, he got me drunk.”
Joe Cabot punched Tarantino on set
Tough-guy Lawrence Tierney, who played Joe Cabot, was well known in Hollywood as a difficult actor to work with. But he took things to a whole new level on Reservoir Dogs. “He was a complete lunatic. He just needed to be sedated,” Tarantino told the Guardian in 2010. “By the end of the week everybody on set hated Tierney – it wasn’t just me,” he added. “In the last 20 minutes of the first week we had a blowout and got into a fist fight. I fired him, and the whole crew burst into applause.”
The fake blood was a problem
It got so hot on set in the LA warehouse that Tim Roth, Mr Orange, frequently became glued to the floor by the copious amounts of fake blood he was drenched in. “They used to have to hose us down in the parking lot at the end of the day,” he told Entertainment Weekly. At one point, he and Michael Madsen “had to be separated” when they went in for “a big bear hug” and got stuck.
No Harvey Keitel, no ‘Reservoir Dogs’
If it weren’t for Harvey Keitel, Reservoir Dogs probably wouldn’t have been made. It’s well known that he discovered Tarantino’s script, liked it and agreed to sign as co-producer so the big studios would take notice. But he also paid for a quickie casting trip to NYC. “We had one weekend and Harvey paid for me and Lawrence [Bender, producer] to fly to New York. Harvey was in first class, we were in coach,” revealed Tarantino at Tribeca. “Baggage was full,” grinned Keitel.
Mr Blonde’s dance was spontaneous
The moment when Michael Madsen’s character slices off a cop’s lug is soundtracked by Stealers Wheel’s catchy 1972 track ‘Stuck In The Middle With You’. But the iconic scene could have turned out very differently. “I didn’t know what to do. In the script it said, ‘Mr Blonde maniacally dances around.’ And I kept thinking, ‘What the f**k does that mean? Like Mick Jagger,or what? What the f**k am I gonna do?’” recalled Madsen at Tribeca. “I remembered this crazy little dance that Jimmy Cagney did in a movie that I saw. It just popped into my head at the last second. That’s where it came from.”
…And he really did kidnap the cop
Poor Kirk Baltz got more than he bargained for when he asked Madsen for some “research” help ahead of their big scene together. “He woke me up and said, ‘I wanna get in your trunk’,” revealed Madsen in an interview for the 2003 DVD release. Long story short: Madsen tore off around bumpy downtown Los Angeles making a pit stop at Taco Bell along the way. By the time he made it back to set and opened the boot Baltz was “very sweaty and very pissed off”.
Nobody shot nice guy Eddie
At the film’s climax, Joe Cabot (Lawrence Tierney), Nice Guy Eddie (Chris Penn, Sean’s younger brother, who died in 2006) and Mr White (Harvey Keitel) blow each other away in a Mexican standoff. Or did they? “It was a mistake,” Penn later explained to Empire. “Harvey Keitelwas supposed to shoot Lawrence Tierney, then shoot me, then get squibbed. But what happened was the squib [a mini explosive device used to simulate gunfire] on Harvey went right off after he shot Lawrence, so he went down, but my squib went off anyway, so I went down. Basically nobody shot Nice Guy Eddie. Quentin said, ‘You know what? It’ll be the biggest controversy of the film. We’re leaving it.’ He was definitely right.”