Quentin Tarantino’s ninth feature film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, has been pretty well-received, currently holding an 85% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes and a 70% audience score. However, there’s one important person who’s not a fan of the film: Bruce Lee’s daughter, Shannon Lee. Since the film’s release, Lee has criticized Tarantino for making her father seem like an "arrogant punching bag" and for not asking the family’s permission to use him in the film. Since her initial complaints weren't met with an apology, Variety recently asked Lee how Tarantino could fix the controversy.
“He could shut up about it,” she answered. “That would be really nice. Or he could apologize or he could say, ‘I don’t really know what Bruce Lee was like. I just wrote it for my movie. But that shouldn’t be taken as how he really was.'”
After her initial complaints, Tarantino became defensive rather than apologizing. Here’s what he said after initially being accused of making Lee seem like an “arrogant blowhard” in the film:
“Bruce Lee was kind of an arrogant guy,” he said at a press junket in Moscow. “The way he was talking, I didn’t just make a lot of that up. I heard him say things like that, to that effect. If people are saying, ‘Well he never said he could beat up Muhammad Ali.’ Well, yeah, he did. Not only did he say that, but his wife, Linda Lee, said that in her first biography I ever read. She absolutely said that.”
Lee’s daughter disagrees:
“One of the things that’s troubling in his response is that, on the one hand, he wants to put this forward as fact and, on the other hand, he wants to stay in fiction,” she added.
Variety included the passage from Linda Lee Cadwell’s book, Bruce Lee: The Man Only I Knew, that Tarantino was likely referring to, however, they report that the quote was from a critic, not from Lee’s wife.
“Those who watched [Bruce] Lee would bet on Lee to render Cassius Clay senseless,” it read.
Shannon Lee added, “[Tarantino] can portray Bruce Lee however he wanted to, and he did, but it’s a little disingenuous for him to say, ‘Well, this is how he was, but this is a fictional movie, so don’t worry too much about it.’”
Do you think Tarantino should apologize for the way he depicted Bruce Lee? Tell us in the comments!
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is now playing in theaters.