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Quentin Tarantino talks retirement as his Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood stars crash Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Margot Robbie, Quentin Tarantino, Jimmy Kimmel
Screenshot: Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Taping your late-night talk show right on Hollywood Boulevard has its perks—both for Jimmy Kimmel and his audience. For one thing, the nearby glitzy movie theaters are go-to destinations for blockbuster premieres, making each night’s audience members candidates for one of those “let’s invite everyone in the building” PR stunts. That’s what happened on Monday’s show when Kimmel’s crowd was invited across the street to the Hollywood premiere of Quentin Tarantino’s possible penultimate film Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood by the film’s stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie. And for Kimmel himself, proximity allows for big stars—like DiCaprio, Robbie, and other co-star Brad Pitt—to wander onstage during Kimmel’s monologue on their way to the red carpet and do a walk-through bit. (Clip below, should you enjoy three minutes of nearly uninterrupted audience whooping.)

When Tarantino himself came out for an actual sit-down, the director waxed nostalgic about the days when Hollywood elite would appear dressed to the nines (he was in a tux for the big night) to talk with the likes of Joey Bishop, before hopping a limo to The Towering Inferno premiere. Naturally, for Tarantino, old Hollywood is everything, with Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood, from the title on down, continuing the infamously film-literate auteur’s reimagining of a world operating under the rules of his cinematic exploitation fever-dreams. (As our own A.A. Dowd observed in his review of the Cannes premiere of Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood’s elegiac re-jiggering of the 1969 Hollywood of the Sharon Tate massacre: “The movie operates so pleasingly as a slice-of-celebrity-life that I almost wish this element wasn’t part of its blueprint, or at least that Tarantino brought the two strands together in a way that felt less glib, defensive and, well, pulpy.”)

But when you go to a Tarantino flick, you get a Tarantino flick, where history bends to his video clerk’s febrile imagination. Speaking of (SPOILER for a 10-year-old movie) his decision to have his titular WWII anti-heroes actually pump about a thousand bullets into Adolph Hitler in Inglourious Basterds, Tarantino told Kimmel that his decision wasn’t so much part of a grand cinematic vision whereby all of world history was informed by, well, pulp fiction, as it was the only satisfying way he could think of to avoid the decidedly un-cinematic escape hatches for his Hitler demanded by dull old reality. Claiming he wrote down the suggestion “Just f-ing kill him” on a piece of paper before sleeping on the idea, Tarantino told Kimmel he woke up the next morning thinking, “It’s a great idea.” Fair enough. And if the incorporation of the real-world death of Tate—a person who was not a white supremacist, genocidal dictator—into his ever-expanding alternate universe of pop culture violence and vengeance seems of questionable taste, well, when you watch Tarantino, you get Tarantino.

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As for that expanding universe, Tarantino continued to play coy with his long-rumored retirement from directing, possibly by setting out into the reaches of the universe itself with the tantalizing (or unsettling, depending on your view) prospect of him going out at the helm of the next Star Trek movie. (Robbie made a return appearance to head off Kimmel’s Trek question before Tarantino had to answer.) While neither confirming nor denying anything, Tarantino offered up his own spoiler-free observation that, while he might or might not keep writing, directing for television, or the like, leaving his cinematic output at ten films feels like a career. Noting that his recent marriage (to singer and model Daniella Pick) has him thinking about hanging up his feature-directing boots, Tarantino told Kimmel, “I kind of like the idea of making 10 motion pictures and then—boom—that’s it, that’s done, the filmography is locked and there you go.”

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Dennis Perkins

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.