Born on March 27, 1963, Quentin Jerome Tarantino has become one of the most recognized names in Hollywood to date. Tarantino has grown to become a well-known screenwriter and director of cult classics whose films are known for their pop culture references combined with a quick wit and dance-like violence. But who exactly is Quentin Tarantino?
Tarantino has arguably been interested in cinematography since birth. Born to actor Tony Tarantino, he has been exposed to the acting world his entire life. His stepfather, Curtis Zastoupil, encouraged his love of films and accompanied him to many screenings. His mother also let him run free with his movie obsession, allowing him to watch adult films, such as Deliverance and Carnal Knowledge.
He also attended drama classes at Fleming Junior High School, and attended acting classes at James Best Theater Company after dropping out of high school before the age of 15. He also spent this time working at an adult movie theater, The Pussycat Theater, where he was an usher.
His first screenplay, Captain Peachfuzz and the Anchovy Bandit, was written when he was just 14 years old, which he based off of Smokey and the Bandit.
The following year his mother discovered he had stolen a copy of The Switch from Kmart, and grounded him. During this time he was only allowed to go to the Torrence Community Theater, where he spent time acting in a number of plays.
He worked a number of odd jobs throughout the 1980s, including as a recruiter for the aerospace workspace.
He also spent five years working at “Video Archives,” a movie rental store. While there it is said that he talked non-stop about movies with his co-workers and any customer who would listen. He is said to have been introduced to Blaxploitation films while at this job, and to have paid close attention to the types of movies that were being rented more often.
His First Screenplay
It was after meeting Lawrence Bender at a party in Hollywood that he truly began to make a name for himself. Bender suggested he write a screenplay. While his first attempt was never published, he did complete and direct his first movie, My Best Friend’s Birthday, in 1987. Unfortunately, a lab fire destroyed the film footage, but the idea went on to be used as the basis for the movie True Romance.
He went on to continue to break into the Hollywood world, becoming a production assistant for Roger Avary for the exercise film Maximum Potential. He also landed a role as an Elvis impersonator on an episode of The Golden Girls, airing in 1988.
In the early 1990s Tarantino was offered his first paid writing gig when Robert Kurtzman hired him as the script writer for From Dusk Til Dawn.
However, his big breakthrough came in 1992, when his film Reservoir Dogs, which he not only wrote, but also directed and acted in, playing Mr. Brown, was screened at the Sundance Film Festival. The film, which he wrote in less than four weeks, found immediate praise and positive reviews and paved the way for his future success, which was quite immediate with the release of True Romance only one year later in 1993.
Reservoir Dogs was so successful that it led Tarantino to be asked to write screenplays for such films as Speed and Men In Black. However, he chose instead to isolate himself in Amsterdam, where he wrote the script for Pulp Fiction.