“The way he was talking, I didn’t just make a lot of that up"
Quentin Tarantino has defended his portrayal of Bruce Lee in his latest film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
The 56-year-old director had been criticized by Lee’s daughter Shannon Lee for making a “mockery” of her father.
Speaking at a press conference in Moscow on Friday, Tarantino said Lee was “kind of an arrogant guy” and his portrayal in the film was not entirely fictitious.
“The way he was talking, I didn’t just make a lot of that up,” Tarantino said. “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.”
The Kill Bill director added that Lee’s wife had revealed how arrogant he was.
“Not only did he say that, but his wife, Linda Lee, said that in her first biography I ever read,” he said. “She absolutely said that.”
Reflecting on the scene in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Tarantino answered whether Cliff (Brad Pitt) could beat up Lee (Mike Moh).’
“Brad (Pitt) would not be able to beat up Bruce Lee but Cliff maybe could,” he said. “If you ask me the question, ‘Who would win in a fight: Bruce Lee or Dracula?’ It’s the same question. It’s a fictional character. If I say Cliff can beat Bruce Lee up, he’s a fictional character so he could beat Bruce Lee up. The reality of the situation is this: Cliff is a Green Beret. He has killed many men in WWII in hand-to-hand combat.”
“What Bruce Lee is talking about in the whole thing is that he admires warriors. He admires combat, and boxing is a closer approximation of combat as a sport. Cliff is not part of the sport that is like combat, he is a warrior. He is a combat person.”
Tarantino concluded, “If Cliff were fighting Bruce Lee in a martial arts tournament in Madison Square Garden, Bruce would kill him. But if Cliff and Bruce were fighting in the jungles of the Philippines in a hand-to-hand combat fight, Cliff would kill him.”
In related news, Moh discussed playing the role, stating that his interest in plying Lee stemmed from a love of martial arts not stereotyping.