Jan 3, 2013, 5:23 PM EDT
Django Unchained came out on Christmas Day, and of course I was there — I haven’t missed a Quentin Tarantino movie opening since, well, ever, even going back to the stuff he wrote and didn’t direct (I can quote every line of True Romance). I heard Django described somewhere as ‘a joyride with a lead-footed 15-year-old at the wheel’, and I can’t disagree. That is to say, it was great. Udonis Haslem approves.
So Tarantino is doing the requisite publicity rounds for the movie, and one stop was at NPR’s Fresh Air with host Terry Gross. The interview was interesting in that it was somewhat tense and contentious at times, and in parts revealing. For instance, I hadn’t known that Tarantino was raised by a single mom in a “swinging singles apartment”, as he described it.
And I also didn’t know that his mom once dated Wilt Chamberlain. Wait, what? Excerpt from the interview:
TARANTINO: “I went to a mostly black school … at different points in my life I was raised by black people, raised in black homes … kind of the United Nations aspect that my mom’s house was in the early ’70s. So black culture was my culture growing up.”
GROSS: “Your mom had a United Nations kind of home?”
TARANTINO: “Yeah, it was almost like a sitcom, the way we lived in the 70s. Because she was in her 20s, she was hot, alright, she was a hot white girl and her best friend named Jackie was a hot black girl and her other best friend, Lillian, was a hot Mexican girl. And they lived in this swinging singles apartment with me.
“It was the ’70s, and I was living with these three hip single ladies, all always going out on dates all the time, dating football players and basketball players …”
GROSS: “Professional ones?”
TARANTINO: “Oh yeah, my mom, she dated Wilt Chamberlain.”
GROSS: “Nooo …” (both laugh).
Awesome. Hey, it was the ’70s, it was Los Angeles, so the question should have been who didn’t date Wilt Chamberlain?
TARANTINO: “[My mother's] boyfriends would come over, and they’d … take me to blaxploitation movies, trying to, you know, get me to like them and buy me footballs and stuff, and … my mom and her friends would take me to cool bars and stuff, where they’d be playing cool, live rhythm-and-blues music … and I’d be drinking Shirley Temples — I think I called them James Bond because I didn’t like the name Shirley Temples — and eat Mexican food … while Jimmy Soul and a cool band would be, you know, playing in some lava lounge-y kind of ’70s cocktail lounge. It was really cool. It made me grow up in a real big way. When I would hang around with kids I’d think they were really childish. I used to hang around with really groovy adults.”
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