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Cannes 2019: Quentin Tarantino on Margot Robbie – not the director's first misstep

'I reject your hypotheses', Tarantino told a female reporter when she asked about the Australian actress having very little dialogue in his film

Quentin Tarantino and Margot Robbie at the 'Once Upon A Time In Hollywood' press conference during the Cannes Film Festival. Getty Images
Quentin Tarantino and Margot Robbie at the 'Once Upon A Time In Hollywood' press conference during the Cannes Film Festival. Getty Images

His critically acclaimed career has spanned more than 25 years, but it has not been without its controversies.

This week, Quentin Tarantino came under fire again, after a female journalist questioned the limited screen time given to Margot Robbie in his latest film, Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood.

The director was asked by the reporter why Robbie, who plays actress Sharon Tate in the film, had so few lines in the movie.

Tarantino visibly bristled, before responding with: “I reject your hypotheses."

Robbie stars as Tate in the movie, who was married to director Roman Polanski in 1969, when she was murdered by members of the Manson Family. Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood also features Leonardo DiCaprio as a struggling, ageing actor and Brad Pitt as his stunt double, as the duo embark on a quest to make it in the movie business.

In response to the journalist's questioning of her character's participation in the film, Robbie offered her own take, after Tarantino issued his brusque shut-down.

"I think the moments I was on screen gave a moment to honour Sharon. I think the tragedy was the loss of innocence," said the actress. “To show the wonderful sides of her could be done without speaking. I did feel like I got a lot of time to explore the character without dialogue, which is an interesting thing."

During the press conference, held at the 72nd annual Cannes Film Festival where the film premiered on Tuesday night, Tarantino was also quizzed over depicting real-life tragedies. When asked if he'd had any hesitations over including Tate in his film, the director simply stated "no".

Tarantino is known for his divisive work – which often includes many gory scenes of violence – and has frequently been accused of using misogynistic representations of women in his films.

Below, we remember three other times Tarantino's problematic behaviour made headlines.

His incident with Uma Thurman

Uma Thurman in 'Kill Bill'. 
Uma Thurman in 'Kill Bill'

The actress has proved the director's muse for many years, starring in films such as Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill, the latter of which was commended at the time for its themes of female empowerment. However, in 2018, Thurman opened up to the New York Times about a troubling incident on the set of Kill Bill, while shooting in Mexico.

The actress had been asked to drive a convertible car that she believed was faulty, telling the publication she didn't feel comfortable and asked a stunt double to perform the scene instead.

“Quentin came in my trailer and didn’t like to hear no, like any director,” she said. “He was furious because I’d cost them a lot of time. But I was scared. He said: ‘I promise you the car is fine. It’s a straight piece of road.’”

After being persuaded to film the stunt, Thurman was involved in a crash that caused permanent damage to her neck and knees. "That was a deathbox that I was in," she told the Times. "The seat wasn’t screwed down properly. It was a sand road and it was not a straight road.”

The incident caused a feud between Tarantino and Thurman for years. "When they turned on me after the accident, I went from being a creative contributor and performer to being like a broken tool," the actress stated.

His silence over Weinstein

Quentin Tarantino has broken his silence over the Weinstein scandal. KAREL PRINSLOO / AFP
Tarantino worked with Weinstein on many of his films. AFP

When disgraced movie executive Harvey Weinstein was expelled from his entertainment company in 2017, following allegations of sexual abuse, numerous screen stars came forward to detail experiences of harassment and assault at his hands. Among them were Rose McGowan, who starred in Tarantino's Grindhouse, and the director's former girlfriend, Mia Sorvino.

Shortly after the accusations were unveiled, Tarantino – who frequently collaborated with producer Weinstein – revealed he had known about incidences of sexual misconduct for years, yet had not spoken up. "I knew enough to do more than I did," the Oscar winner told the New York Times. "There was more to it than just the normal rumours, the normal gossip. It wasn't secondhand. I knew he did a couple of these things."

He admitted he was ashamed of his behaviour, adding he "chalked [Weinstein's actions] up to a ’50s-’60s era image of a boss chasing a secretary around the desk".

"I wish I had taken responsibility for what I heard. If I had done the work I should have done then, I would have had to not work with him," Tarantino, who worked with Weinstein on films such as Inglourious Basterds and The Hateful Eight, added. "What I did was marginalise the incidents. Anything I say now will sound like an excuse.”

His backing of Polanski

In 2003, Tarantino came under fire for his defense of the controversial director Roman Polanski, who plead guilty to statutory rape in 1977 before fleeing the US while awaiting sentencing.

In an interview with Howard Stern, Tarantino denied Polanski was guilty of rape, insinuating the 13-year-old victim was a willing participant.

"He had sex with a minor,” Tarantino said. “That’s not rape. To me, when you use the word rape, you’re talking about violent, throwing them down – it’s like one of the most violent crimes in the world. You can’t throw the word rape around. It’s like throwing the word ‘racist’ around. It doesn’t apply to everything people use it for.”

The Pulp Fiction director later apologised for his words, in 2018 issuing a statement to the victim, Samantha Geimer, addressing his "cavalier remarks".

“Fifteen years later, I realise how wrong I was. When Howard brought up Polanski, I incorrectly played devil’s advocate in the debate for the sake of being provocative. I didn’t take Ms Geimer’s feelings into consideration and for that I am truly sorry. So, Ms Geimer, I was ignorant, and insensitive, and above all, incorrect.”

Updated: May 23, 2019 03:54 PM

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