Nashville, Tennesse. It's a fine city, it happens to be where yours truly is based, and it also happens to be one of the cities rising-star actor Walton Goggins selected as a pitstop on his press tour.
Given the choices of Los Angeles, Toronto, and several other huge markets, Goggins decided he wanted to stay in the southern region of the country to promote his latest film, The Hateful Eight. As soon as he approached in this artsy hotel lobby, it made sense that Nashville and Atlanta were his choices. He's a southern gent all the way through from his slick but casual black outfit, complete with a matching chapeu and boots, to his accent which sounds just like it often does on screen in his recent Django and Hateful endeavors.
He comes over, after cozying up for a funny Christmas card-esque picture with the journalist he spoke to before me, and it's quickly clear this would be a most open and laid-back interviews. Goggins isn't afraid to drop an f-bomb in public but he's also very excited about and humbled by his successful work and recent opportunities. He's earned it.
Check out our interview below.
CB: The Hateful Eight wasn't your first time working with Quentin. You obviously worked on Django Unchained. What were the differences in the set? Was there anything different about the atmosphere with Hateful Eight as opposed to Django, or anything like that that you guys did differently?
WG: First and foremost, the biggest difference was that Hateful Eight, for the most part, takes place in one room. What was so exciting, I think, for all of us is the fact that we got to be there every single day because on a Quentin Tarantino movie you can bet when you go to work, something magical is going to happen, and the next day if you're not working, something magical is going to happen and you're going to miss it, but for us, we all got to be in the same room together for five and a half months to watch each other step into the spotlight with Quentin Tarantino by the camera, Bob Richardson behind it, and saying Quentin's words and just knocking it out of the park. We would all be in a scene together, and we would all be talking, and then one of us would step out front, and the rest of us would just sit in the dark just looking at the person out front saying, "F---ing go get it! Go get it! Oh my god, you did that with it? Oh my god!" Because they're such precious jewels.
When you get a Quentin Tarantino monologue, you are working with some of the best words ever written, man. That's just what the guys does, and very few people have been given that opportunity in front of the man. For all of us it was just a real special experience.
CB: What kind of coaching does he do? If you bring something to the monologue, does he really let you make it your own, or does he have a very specific method which he brings out of you?
WG: Well, there's a cadence and a rhythm that Quentin has to his words. It's lyrical poetry. I think there is a deep understanding, or a connection, or a way that Quentin has like a meter for picking people that can say his dialogue the way that he hears it in his head. What happens kind of in that space is you are a manifestation of what he hears in his imagination, and then there's room for, like oh my god I didn't see this, I didn't see this, and then it becomes something else and it becomes something else, but they're always his words, and it's always as he had heard it in his imagination. That's our starting point.
CB: And it just comes out on screen beautifully.
CB: Tarantino is not shy to address controversial issues, and I know as an actor it might be a little difficult at first to go in there and say some of the things he has written in front of people, or on the screen. Does that ever affect you as an actor? Do you ever go in there and have to have conversations about that?
WG: Never, no. When you get a call from Quentin Tarantino, you're first response to whatever his question is, is "Yes." I have been a fan of Quentin's, like so many other people, from the very beginning, and I am in the hands of one of the most capable, if not the most capable film maker of his generation. Whenever you get that invitation, and very few have been afforded it, you step onto that train, and you don't ask where it's going. You just go. It's almost like, drop me off wherever you need to drop me off, man. I'm here for you.
CB: Do you guys have any plans to work together again any time soon?
WG: Oh god, I don't know that Quentin knows what he wants to do next. None of us, none of us, maybe with the exception of Sam [Jackson] because that motherf---er knows he's gonna be in another one, but none of us would ever dare assume that we would get another invitation. It's like, "Wow, I got to be with the man twice." Once and now twice, and you hope, and either it'll happen or it won't happen, but that is not where most of us live. We live in the present. This is a real celebration, this experience.
CB: As a huge fan of Django Unchained, I have to ask since you're buddies with Quentin: has he ever mentioned a Django sequel? Has he talked about the idea?
WG: Well, I think this was to be intended as the sequel. I think with Django, and he said this in press so I'm not speaking out of turn, I think Django was a member of this cast. Whether that was specifically Sam [Jackson], I don't know, but he realized, over the course of writing it, what was wrong with this story, and why it couldn't be a direct continuation of Django was that he couldn't have a hero. He wanted to assemble eight people who have done horrific things. There are so many multiple connections from Django to this movie, but really there are multiple through lines and all the movies that Quentin has made. It's not a continuation of Django, but it's a continuation of Quentin, and I expect the same thing will be true for whatever he decides to do next.
CB: Were you guys freezing? Were you guys really filmed in the snow?
WG: So cold, man. I was so cold. That has to be real snow. No, it was all real and Manny's haberdashery was filmed on stage that Quentin ... Cause Quentin kept at twenty-six, twenty-seven degrees for eighteen hours a day for months. Oh man. Because he's an analogue guy. He doesn't do things digitally, and he needed the breath, and we needed the breath, and we all felt the misery of that time and that place and just of that room that we all desperately wanted to get out of as characters that it just made it richer. If you worked with Quentin, he's going to do it the old fashioned way. That's just how it is. It adds to it, though. Every aspect of this movie, the painful light, the details were all there. I've worked on some films, I would love to get into it, but you gotta pay attention to details, and there's just no doubt that he pays attention to them. It's amazing.
CB: Quentin's movies have all this development, they have all this character development, plot development, and so on until at some point in almost every movie there is a point where everything gets chaotic. It happened it in Hateful Eight. How does the set change for those days with those big action pieces when everything's going down?
WG: On a Quentin Tarantino set, the actors are not number one on the scene. There is no hierarchy on a Tarantino set. The crew and the craftspeople that use symbols are led by Bob Richardson are of equal importance, equal stature on a set. On a Quentin Tarantino set we are all in the service of moving this ball forward, or this rock up this mountain, and there was this one guy, specifically there are a bunch of guys, but Quentin's one guy Darren who he met through Rodriguez, is an on-set dresser who just is so specific about where the blood is on the floor, where this is. Before every single take, the conditions are re-created to, even if it's not on camera, like Madison's handkerchief that he throws off at point is just randomly sitting on the floor out of a shot for hours on end because that's where it was. That's the type of people that Quentin has working on his movies. Their attention to detail and their love of story is so profound that they have his back. It's pretty amazing.
CB: Now, let's change topic of superheroes a bit. Growing up, did you have a favorite superhero?
WG: I suppose Batman was high up on the list for me. My mother-in-law actually sewed a homemade Batman costume for me. I still remember that as kind of being ... but I had never felt that invincible before, and second to that, I really dug Flash Gordon. Sam Jones, man. Flash Gordon, man, and I just left there wanting that f---ing thing he had. I thought he was so cool. Yeah, probably him. Sam Jones, dude, that's funny. I mean everybody can have Superman and Batman, I'll take Flash Gordon.
CB: Well, you worked with Jesse Eisenberg. He was American Ultra and he's gonna be Lex Luthor. Do you think he'll pull it off?
WG: I mean, look, I think that guy can do no wrong. He's an actor's actor, and he is so specific, yet you can't pin him down. What he will do well, yeah it'll surprise people, I'm sure. I can't wait to see it.
CB: Who's side are you on, Batman or Superman? Can you tell?
WG: I mean, look, I'm just on defenders for truth and justice. That's the side I'm on. Thankfully they're both on the same side.
The Hateful Eight is now playing in theaters.