The WTF Story About Tarantino’s ‘Death Proof’ You Never Knew

Remember those sweet, innocent days when the creepiest thing about Quentin Tarantino was his fondness for feet? Now we know better, thanks to Uma Thurman reporting some shocking revelations about QT in a New York Times article. But those revelations shouldn’t have been that shocking, because Tarantino made a whole damn movie about them.

According to Thurman, back when they were filming Kill Bill together, Tarantino talked her into doing a stunt that she didn’t feel comfortable with: Flooring it down a sketchy dirt road in an older car that she could barely control. It went as well as you’d expect.

Thurman was pretty badly hurt, ending up with a “permanently damaged neck” and “screwed-up knees.” She felt like it was irresponsible of Tarantino to put her in that situation, and she wasn’t alone. According to stunt coordinator Keith Adams, his entire department had been kept off set that day, which might have something to do with the fact that stopping stupidly reckless stunts is part of their job. Also, Thurman claims that she was warned beforehand that the stunt car was a “deathbox.” And while she and Tarantino are (sorta) cool now, it’s important to note that in the immediate aftermath of the accident, she accused him of trying to kill her.

Tarantino, of course, denied it … then turned around and made a movie about a cool dude with a foot fetish who kills women through stupidly reckless car stunts. We’re talking about Death Proof, the Tarantino half of 2007’s Grindhouse.

Dimension Films

In Death Proof, Kurt Russell’s character, Stuntman Mike, convinces an attractive blonde to ride in his “perfectly safe” stunt car, only for her to end up smeared all over the dashboard a few minutes later. It isn’t an accident — this is how Stuntman Mike kills. He’s the most needlessly elaborate murderer this side of Jigsaw.

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Dimension Films

Dimension FilmsOr Jim-saw.

Now, Stuntman Mike is clearly supposed to be Tarantino’s avatar in this B-movie universe. We’re very sorry, but we’re gonna have to talk about QT’s well-documented foot fetish again. His films are full of close-ups of women’s feet, but Death Proof took it to the next level. This movie has more dirty naked feet than your local farmer’s market. There’s even a deleted scene wherein Stuntman Mike creeps on Rosario Dawson’s exposed legs while she’s sleeping, and … well, let’s hope for his sake that she didn’t have athlete’s foot.


This scene is still in the European cut, because European cut.

But there’s another level of creepiness at work here. One of the main characters in the movie is a professional stuntwoman named Zoe Bell, played by professional stuntwoman Zoe Bell. She’s the one who ends up sunbathing on the hood of a speeding car in the insanely dangerous final chase scene (a scene Tarantino talked the stunt driver into doing, despite her reservations). As amazing as Bell was in this movie, she had never acted before. But she had worked with Tarantino. On Kill Bill. Where Bell was Thurman’s stuntwoman.

MiramaxOnly actors get chairs.

To recap, after talking Thurman into a terrible car crash for a movie stunt, Tarantino chose to not only make a film about a throwback Hollywood guy who purposefully kills women with his stunt car, but he then cast the most Uma-Thurman-looking person he knew to star in it.

This wouldn’t be the first time Tarantino put his own real-life experiences into his movies. For instance, he wrote Pulp Fiction while he was in Amsterdam, where he apparently spent a long time staring at the McDonald’s menu in disbelief. Tarantino also likes to volunteer to hurt actresses for real in his movies. Like the time he straight up bit Fergie while filming Planet Terror, or when he convinced Diane Kruger to let him choke her for Inglorious Basterds:

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The Weinstein Company“CUT! Perfect, Diane! … Di-Diane?”

If it seems like we’re building the case that Tarantino was obsessed with Thurman, it’s because according to people who knew and/or worked with him, he was. Ethan Hawke was once asked if he’d ever appear in a Tarantino film, and replied: “I think he’s so obsessed with my wife [Thurman] that I don’t think I ever will.” David Carradine told Rolling Stone that Thurman had once asked him, “Why does Quentin do these things to me? He’s always cutting me up, and getting me covered with mud, and having me tied up and shot in the face with a shotgun. What the hell is this shit? I mean, he says he loves me, but what kind of love is that?”

That statement gets even more troubling when you learn that Tarantino was the one who spat on her face in Kill Bill, because he thought Michael Madsen (or anyone else) was incapable of doing such “intricate work.”

Miramax“Wow, the intricacy!” -Nobody

Tarantino is also the one who chokes her out during the Gogo Yubari fight scene:

MiramaxWe have to assume he wore a Japanese schoolgirl uniform while doing it.

On a brighter note, perhaps the weirdest thing about Death Proof is how Stuntman Mike’s fate seems to have predicted Tarantino’s. Like the character, Tarantino has now been exposed, and his reputation is currently being symbolically hammered to death by the same strong women whose feet he so admired.

Dimension FilmsIt’s good that this isn’t literally how it happened, though. He’d enjoy that too much.

Aaron is a freelancer who lives in Edinburgh. Until a short while ago, he was really looking forward to Tarantino’s next film. You can follow him on Twitter here.

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