With the world putting themselves in quarantine due to the coronavirus pandemic, movie fans are revisiting some of their favorite films, while some corners of Hollywood are even revisiting their iconic roles. Michael Madsen, for example, recently enlisted his family to offer his own take on one of the most famous scenes from director Quentin Tarantino's career, with his wife and kids sporting bandaged ears in tribute to the savagery of Mr. Blonde in Reservoir Dogs, including Madsen reprising his familiar strut from the scene. Given his often intense characters, the internet was thrilled to see Madsen embrace his much goofier side to lift fans' spirits.
Madsen was recently seen in the documentary QT8: The First Eight, a deep dive into the mind Quentin Tarantino, the world’s most celebrated filmmaker. Exclusive interviews with cast and behind-the-scenes from Tarantino’s first eight films. Closing the chapter in Hollywood history – Tarantino’s relationship with Harvey Weinstein that became his greatest disappointment. Featuring Samuel L. Jackson, Christoph Waltz, Tim Roth, Lucy Liu, Zoë Bell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jamie Foxx, Eli Roth, Robert Forster, Diane Kruger, Kurt Russell, Louis Black, Richard Gladstein, Scott Speigel, Stacey Sher, and more.
ComicBook.com recently caught up with Madsen to discuss how his family is coping with quarantine, his work with Tarantino, and what we might see in a new parody video. QT8: The First Eight is now available On Demand.
Header photo courtesy of Paul Archuleta/WireImage/Getty Images
Catching Up on History
ComicBook.com: Other than making parody videos, of course, what have you and your family been doing during the quarantine? Any particular shows or movies you've been catching up on?
Michael Madsen: Well, I have a 14-year-old son and school was not his favorite thing to do. When he first found out that he didn't have to go to school anymore, it was almost like a celebration for him. But after a while it gets old and he's missing a lot of education, which isn't good. He's a big Western kid. He likes Westerns, cowboys, so I've been showing him a lot of old classic cowboy pictures, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral and The Searchers, and some great stuff that he's never seen. I was catching up on all of my The Rifleman episodes and The Big Valley and all the shows that I love that are on ETV now, and there's so many episodes I never saw. So it's been cool. It's been great that way. Watching a lot of history documentaries and getting an education on a lot of stuff.
So it sounds like you've been getting history and you've been giving him some film history.
Listen, I'm his Papa. That's my job.
Watching history documentaries probably helps put all of this in perspective. Even though it's devastating what we're going through, we'll get through it eventually.
Well, it's always been tricky to understand. I don't think that our kids, at least in my generation, I don't think we were getting a great education about what really happened with a lot of things. Like the Native Americans and a lot of historical stuff got taught to us that just wasn't quite the way things actually happened. And I think nowadays it seems to be catching up with kids about historical stuff.
My 14-year-old, just the other day, he came to me and he asked me if I knew who Anne Frank was. I was so pleased that he was finding out about these kinds of things because they weren't teaching my generation about that. And he says, "Boy, dad, you know what they used to do to these people in these camps?" And it was really kind of heavy. It was a very heavy conversation. I didn't want my kid to actually realize there were things that happened like that in this world and in this history. But it's very important, stuff like that. It is so much worse than anything we're going through now, without a question.
There are people around the world who are still having a really rough time, which is why it's always appreciated to see people offering some lighthearted escapes, like your parody video.
I figured a lot of people got me figured in a certain way because of characters I've played in pictures. I've mostly played a criminal, a violence-orientated person, and that's the furthest thing from me. Honestly, I thought it was a good opportunity to try to bring some levity here. There's so many celebrities that are doing ridiculous things. I was trying to come up with something and I had an idea for Reservoir Dogs and making a joke about it. It was my wife, actually, who said, "Why don't we put bandages on the side of everybody's head and you could just be walking around the house?"
One thing led to another and by the time we actually started filming it, I decided to do the little Mr. Blonde dance. It was quite off the top of my head. I didn't really plan to do that, but it just kind of happened. Luckily she had the camera in her hand at that moment, but I didn't realize ... I thought she was going to shoot me from the waist up. I had no idea I was going to be on film in my pajamas. So it was an accident, but it was very funny, actually.
With your intense on-screen personas, I was pretty surprised as I was watching it, I didn't think you'd show up at the end.
No, I had to show up. It wouldn't have made any sense unless I was in it, but it is funny and it's fun to make fun of stuff like that. I'm not that kind of a person. I'm a good actor. Or maybe I'm not, I don't know. But all those characters were wonderfully written and somebody like [Budd in] Kill Bill or some of the other things I've done, I understand the mentality of a character like that. But I'm just a dad at the end of the day. I sit on the couch and watch Jerry Springer and NFL football.
And I heard there might be another video on the way soon?
After we did that, I think everybody was so surprised that there were actually folks watching it because both of my boys were like ... it was the fourth time. We did four of that before we finally got one that was watchable. And they were kind of annoyed with me by the end of it, they didn't want to do it again. They're like, "Dad, do we have to do it again?" And I don't think they were too keen on doing anything else. But I think we got a few ideas, but I'm not sure. I'm not sure what we're going to do. I'll have to try to come up with something funny.
Have you gotten a reaction from Quentin yet?
He got married and he just had a little boy. And he's with his wife in Israel. So, of course, I have his email and I sent him the video, but I didn't hear back from him yet. I don't know what he's going to think about it. He'll eventually tell me. I'm sure he's going to like it and think it was funny. I was going to make a PSA about — I have a company that makes hot sauce and mustard. It's American Badass and I got in touch with the bottling company that puts it in the bottle for me and I was trying to figure out how to give it away to first responders or nurses and doctors and people who are on the frontline of this whole thing.
So they actually created a website. They made a branded sauces website and you can get Michael Madsen hot sauce and mustard, but I can't do it yet because I can't get anybody to pay the shipping. I made a PSA for Jimmy Kimmel and I made one for Snoop Dogg asking them to step up and pay the shipping so I could actually give it to people for nothing. The cost to me, obviously I can handle that, but I don't want to start giving something away, and, "Oh, by the way, the shipping is not included." I don't think that would go over too good. But I haven't heard back from Jimmy or Snoop so maybe you could help me with that.
I've been on Jimmy Kimmel. I've been on his show twice. And I know Snoop Dogg, we're personal friends and so it's not like they're going to be hearing from somebody that they've never heard of. So I don't know, buddy. I'm just putting it out there.
And since your video, Bruce Willis shared a parody of himself from Pulp Fiction. Have you seen that?
No, so he's copying me then? Bruce Willis is copying me? What parody is he doing from that picture? I hope it's not the one I think.
It might be what you think, because it's him with a ball gag in his mouth, but it's a light-up emoji ball gag.
Oh no, that's what I was worried about. Oh no. Oh, wow. See Bruce, I don't blame him for copying me. He has a hard time remembering dialogue. I did Sin City with him and yeah, we had a good time. That's funny. I'm glad I started something.
Do you have another movie in mind for a new parody?
It'll be lighthearted. I guarantee that. I don't know, maybe I could do something from ... gosh, I don't know. Maybe Hell Ride. Nobody knows Quentin produced that movie, but he did.
One project fans have been hoping to see for years now is the Vega brothers team-up with you and John Travolta's character from Pulp Fiction, but you recently made it sound like that project won't be happening.
Everything kind of started from QT8, the documentary about Quentin, about his career and his first eight pictures and it's been nine now with Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood. But Tara Wood was the wonderful director that put together QT8 and it's such a great, well-done documentary. Everybody's in it that you can think of that's been in a Tarantino picture. And I think a lot of conversations started out from that, and I was wondering why more people haven't seen it, but I guess you can watch it on Amazon. I know it's out there and a lot of conversations started from that. And the Vega brothers thing came up a couple of times, but I didn't mean to say that that was a coming project.
The Vega brothers is probably never going to get made. But, then again, I don't want to say that because I don't want to get in Quentin's way because there's no telling what he's going to do. It's impossible to predict that. But, once upon a time, it was something that we were going to make with John and I, him being Vincent and me being Vic, but it didn't happen for whatever reason, but now we're too old to do it. It would have to be a prequel, and I think we're a little too old for that and both of us get killed. So I don't know.
I did hear from Quentin one time, he did tell me that he had an idea to do it where we would be the age that we're at now. And we were the twin brothers of those brothers. I don't know how that would happen, but I'm not a good enough writer to figure that one out. I like John. I made a picture with him. We made a race car picture called "Trading Paint" and it was a DVD thing. I like John, I think we could pull it off. I really do. I think it'd be cool.
What I appreciated about QT8 was that, instead of being a documentary about Quentin, it's just about his movies, but you can't help but learn about him through his movies.
Tara's a very smart gal and she did a great job on that thing. It's a long story how it got put together and it's for anybody who's interested in what happened with all that during those days, it's pretty well done. A lot of good people in there really stepped up and the interviews are great. Everybody's very honest, I felt, and it addresses a lot of things.
It also touched on the whole [Harvey] Weinstein thing and it kind of straightened out a lot of that stuff and that whole history of that whole situation. And I thought somebody had to do that. I don't know of anybody else who's even come close to talking about that subject, but I thought it was handled pretty well.
And in the Tarantino universe of characters, there might not be a Vega brothers movie, but is there another spinoff or sequel you'd like to do with one of your characters?
Well, Quentin did a picture called "Hell Ride." It's a motorcycle movie that I did with David Carradine and Dennis Hopper and Quentin produced it and, thank God, he also edited it. So he cut it together, which is what made it work. There was going to be a Hell Ride Part Two and I would have loved to have done that because I played a guy named "The Gent" and it even said it on that the gas tank of my motorcycle and I had a beautiful red chopper. And there was supposed to be part two of that and I would've loved that. That would've been cool because I don't die at the end so I could have come back. I didn't make it out of Dogs or Kill Bill.
Or Hateful Eight.
No, I didn't make it out of there either. I got gunned down. At least I was one of the last to go in Hateful Eight, right? I made it to the end. Unfortunately, I get blasted, but I didn't want to get killed. Believe me, I was thinking of it the other day, I was trying to convince Quentin to let me survive somehow. I could have escaped on one of the horses. I could've got away, but it wasn't meant to be. Tim Roth stole the moment from me though with the gunshot.
Classic Tim Roth, always killing you on screen.
When Tim gets shot and he flies up against the wall, he fires off another shot out of his gun. And you see, right before that, I was talking to Quentin outside about my demise and I said, "Listen, those guys are going to get me. So as I'm spinning around, I want to get off a shot." And I didn't realize Mr. Roth was overhearing the conversation and he got shot before I did and he did it. He fired off his little gun. And so, thanks, Tim, but that was courtesy of Joe Gage, if you want to know the truth, but I couldn't do it, see, because everybody can't do the same thing when they're getting shot.
Sounds like your next video should be him coming over and you get to kill him for once.
You know what's really funny is once upon a time, way, way, way back in the day, I was going to play Vincent in Pulp Fiction and Tim, as soon as Tim heard that I was going to be Vincent, he actually asked Quentin if he could play the boxer because he wanted to make sure that he could kill me.
Wow. That guy's got a vendetta.
No, he just enjoys shooting me for some reason. I don't know why. I think he has a chip on his shoulder because when they were casting Reservoir Dogs and I knew that Mr. Blonde was going to get killed by Mr. Orange, I think publicly I might've said in an interview, "Well, I don't want to get killed by Tim Roth. Who in the hell is Tim Roth?" And I think somewhere along the way he must've heard that I said that and so now he just wants to do that as many times as he can. It's a silly thing.
Quentin has said that he only plans to make 10 movies and he already made nine, so do you think he's really only got one more in him?
Well, I never talk about things that are personal between him and I or things he'd rather not me talk about. But I have brought that up to him a few times and I know him well enough to know that that is true. I think he really didn't ever want to be a director who ended up making a lot of bad, unmemorable pictures at the end of his career. And who does that? I mean, Rocky Marciano is the only boxer who ever retired as a heavyweight champion.
And there's a lot of great, great filmmakers that later on they made some pictures that were not memorable. I think he has enough nostalgia in him and enough creative belief in what he does that he doesn't want to do more than 10. I honestly think he's going to do one more. I have no idea what it is. He wants to travel with his prints of his movies and talk to people about them. And I don't know, maybe five years later he might suddenly do something, but I believe him when he says something and I know he's told me a couple of times that he's going to do 10 and that's it.
Cowboy Comic Book Comedy
So you did Sin City with Bruce Willis and you lent your voice to an animated Green Lantern movie, so is a live-action, big-budget comic book movie something you'd be interested in doing?
Well, I did a big Western years ago, it was originally called "Blueberry." It was based on a French cowboy in a comic book. And when I did the movie, they changed his name. They changed the name of the film to "The Renegade," but it was originally "Blueberry." A comic book cowboy is a great, great idea and I love cowboy pictures and I'd like to do a cowboy picture again, but not be the guy who gets blasted in the end.
Did you ever see My Boss's Daughter? It was a comedy I did with Ashton Kutcher. I don't get to do comedy that much, and the ones I've done, people don't really ever remember them. So maybe that's in my future. I don't know.
A cowboy comic book comedy sounds like a good idea.
Yeah, if somebody writes it good enough. If it's written well enough and if somebody puts it together good enough, then I would do it for sure. But it's all in the writing, and it's all in the directing. I'm just an actor. I'm at the mercy of production and what people put together. You can only be as good as the people that are around you basically.
Your sister Virginia starred in Dune and in Candyman, both of which are getting remakes this year.
Wow, I did not know that. I know that Quentin screens a lot of old movies at his theater and I know that he showed Candyman just a couple months ago. And my sister was out of the country at that point, but she would have loved to have gone there. He has the New Beverly theater and he shows a lot of great stuff over there. I didn't know they were doing a remake of Dune. She probably knows. I haven't talked to her for a while, but that's pretty interesting. Maybe she should do a cameo.
A perfect opportunity for a cameo.
My Cadillac [has a cameo] in Once Upon a Time. That's my yellow Cadillac from Reservoir Dogs.
It's a bit of trivia there, but that was my car that I used to drive to the set when we were shooting Reservoir Dogs and I gave it to Quentin on his birthday when we were shooting Hateful Eight and I had no idea that he was going to put Brad [Pitt] and Leo [DiCaprio] in the damn thing in Once Upon a Time. But there they are, driving around in my old car, which is pretty funny. Quentin does stuff like that. It's incredibly creative and I don't think a lot of people even know that when they see the movie, but he's waiting for people to discover stuff on their own. It's not like he's going to announce, "Oh, that's Michael's Cadillac from Mr. Blonde." He's never going to do that. It's like you have to figure these things out on your own and notice them.
Like his references to Red Apple cigarettes in his movies.
Yeah, exactly. Like in Kill Bill when Uma Thurman is in the box underground after getting buried by Budd, the razor that she pulls out to cut the ropes off her ankles is the same one that I used in Reservoir Dogs. That's the same straight razor from the picture.0comments
QT8: The First Eight is now available On Demand