“You haven’t really given her many lines in the movie.”
Director Quentin Tarantino on Wednesday shut down a female New York Times reporter who asked him why he hadn’t given actress Margot Robbie more lines in his latest movie.
During a press conference at the Cannes Film Festival in France, where “Once Upon a Time … In Hollywood” had just debuted to rave reviews, culture writer Farah Nayeri challenged Tarantino about his decision in feminist terms.
“This is a person with a great deal of acting talent, and yet you haven’t really given her many lines in the movie,” she said. “I guess that was a deliberate choice on your part, and I just wanted to know why that was that we don’t hear her actually speaking very much, and Margot, I wanted you to also comment on being in the film, and this part.”
Tarantino sat stone-faced alongside actors Brad Pitt and Leonard DiCaprio while Nayeri spoke.
When she was done, he replied simply: “Well, I just reject your hypotheses.”
Then, Tarantino sat back in his chair.
Robbie, who in the movie plays Sharon Tate, one of the victims of the infamous Manson family murders in 1969, defended Taratino. She noted that she gets a lot of screen time in the film, often in situations where it wouldn’t make sense for her to speak.
“The tragedy, ultimately, was the loss of innocence, and to really show those wonderful sides of her, I think, could be adequately done without speaking. I did feel like I got a lot of time to explore the character, even without dialogue specifically, which is an interesting thing,” she said.
“Rarely do I get an opportunity to spend so much time on my own as a character, going through a day-to-day existence.”
Robbie added that she “actually really appreciated the exercise and felt that I could deliver what I wanted to onscreen.”
In a write-up of the exchange published Wednesday, Nayeri acknowledged that Robbie appears on screen a lot in “Once Upon a Time .. in Hollywood,” but emphasized the sexual nature of the scenes.
Uma Thurman, the actress who has played some of the director’s most famous badass female characters, last year told The New York Times that Tarantino had mistreated her on the set of “Kill Bill,” in which she starred as a ruthless ninja assassin bent on revenge. She said he pressured her to drive a car that she ended up wrecking, leaving her with chronic injuries.
In the same interview, Thurman accused Harvey Weinstein, a former longtime Tarantino collaborator, of sexually assaulting her.
Her complaints about Tarantino, as opposed Weinstein, were some of the first to provoke widespread discussion of what counts as #MeToo conduct. Many people saw him as having shown respect for Thurman by pushing her in the same way he might a man.
Tarantino later said that putting Thurman in the car was “the biggest regret of my life.”
“I am guilty, for putting her in that car, but not the way that people are saying I am guilty of it,” he said.