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Biography #2 (for Kill Bill Volume 1)

Born in 1963 in Knoxville, Tennessee, Tarantino was named, fittingly enough, after a character on a TV show, the half-breed blacksmith Quint played by Burt Reynolds on Gunsmoke. When he was two, the future filmmaker's single mom moved with him to the South Bay area south of Los Angeles, which was his home for the next two decades.

His neighborhood in the city of Torrance was a mixture of black and white, and he was exposed to a wide range of film and pop culture influences. Martial arts movies, for example, continued to play in black neighborhoods for several after the kung fu fad ended elsewhere; Tarantino was able to cross the tracks to continue watching them until well into the 1970s.

Tarantino quit school at 17 to take acting classes and support himself with odd jobs. At 22 he found a second home of sorts at Video Archives in Manhattan Beach, where his voluminous knowledge of old movies finally began to come in handy. With co-workers Roger Avery and Jerry Martinez, Tarantino turned Video Archives into an impromptu film school. He began writing as a way to supply practice scenes for his acting classes.

After laboring for time with Avery and some other friends on an abortive shoe string feature, My Best Friends Wedding, a raunchy buddy film on the scale of Kevin Smith's Clerks, Tarantino spent several frustrating years writing and trying to set up two scripts, each intended to be his directorial debut. Partly out of frustration at the difficulty of setting up a real movie with an unknown writer attached to direct, Tarantino wrote Reservoir Dogs in 1991.

Dogs was intentionally written to be the most minimal project imaginable: a story of a heist in which the robbery occurred off screen, pages and pages of dialog requiring only a single set. It was intended to be a super-cheap 16 mm with Tarantino and his Video Archives buddies playing all the parts.

Luckily, an aspiring producer Lawrence Bender read and loved the Dogs script. He begged Tarantino to give him a month to try to set it up as one of those real movies. It was Bender who got the script to actor Harvey Keitel, and it was Keitel's enthusiasm that attracted several other good actors and a eventually a decent production budget.

Shot in less than a month in LA locations, with a standout cast that came to include Michael Madsen, Steve Buscemi, Tim Roth, Laurence Tierney, Chris Penn, and Tarantino himself in addition to Keitel, Dogs was a phenomenal success, first at the Sundance Film Festival and then with the world at large.

And Suddenly Tarantino was hot, and both of the scripts he had been working on before Dog quickly sold: they became True Romance (1992, directed by Tony Scott) and Natural Born Killers (1993, heavily re-written and directed by Oliver Stone).

1994's Pulp Fiction was a multi-layered, time-bending, crime fiction collage that wove the stories of several characters together with world-class narrative gusto. A 3-D chess game of a movie, Pulp single-handedly restored the career of '70s icon John Travolta to its proper eminence, cemented the movie-star status of actor Samuel L. Jackson, and launched Tarantino's working relationship with the performer he has since described as my actress, Uma Thurman.

After a three-year lay-off, Tarantino wrote and directed Jackie Brown, in 1997, a crime caper based on Elmore Leonard's novel Rum Punch. Pam Grier garnered both Golden Globe and SAG Award nominations for her performance in the title role, and co-star Robert Forster who was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor. Filling out the once-in-a-lifetime cast were Samuel L. Jackson (also nominated for a Golden Globe), Robert De Niro, Bridget Fonda and Michael Keaton.

Tarantino's first career goal was to become an actor, and he has continued to play roles in his own films and in the work of others. He was the thief known only as Mr. Brown (That's a little too close to 'Mr.Shit,') in Reservoir Dogs and the jittery Jimmie Dimmick, saddled with a fresh corpse, Pulp Fiction. In the Man From Hollywood section of Four Rooms he was a blow-hard movie director. He also played bandit George Clooney's loony brother, Richard Gecko, in Robert Rodriguez's From Dusk Till Dawn, played the title role in Jack Baren's Destiny Turns on the Radio (1995) and appeared in Spike Lee's Girl 6 (1996).

With his production partner, Lawrence Bender, through their company A Band Apart Productions, Tarantino served as executive produced October Film's Killing Zoe, directed by Roger Avary. He presented the 2001 domestic release of Master Yuen Wo Ping's 1993 martial arts classic Iron Monkey" and served as executive producer of Reb Braddock's black comedy Curdled (1996) and Julia Sweeny's concert film God said, 'HA!' (1999).

In the four years that elapsed between the release of Jackie Brown and the production of Kill Bill, Tarantino was hard at work on a script for a war movie, Inglorious Bastards, which has been announced as a Miramax project for 2004.

Bio courtesy Miramax for "Kill Bill Volume 1" (18-Oct-2003)


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