Tarantino and Rodriguez: Who's the Man?

Mountain Climbing Days

: You guys are known as filmmakers that are always trying to top what you did last. In terms of narrative, in terms of cinematically, certainly. At some point, do you reach a level where you can't go any higher? Do you ever fear, "Oh, God. I don't know how I'm going to top a woman with a machine-gun leg."


: You don't fear, but you know that's always a challenge. I finished two series at the same time. I finished the "Spy Kids" Trilogy and I finished the "El Mariachi" Trilogy within two months of each other. And they both did really well at the box office.

I try to take a left turn. So I'm going to do "Sin City." I'm going to go do something that's just cinematically a lot more challenging for me and gets me excited. Because if I don't get excited about the next project myself, I know the audience isn't going to get excited. And you almost want something that has built-in challenges, something that people haven't seen before, but, mainly, something you haven't seen before.

And I did that one, then I had the same problem. "Well, now, what am I going to do?" We took the color out. And then I thought, "Double feature." Can't be better than that. So, now, the more you raise your bar on yourself, the more the audience benefits, because they'll end up seeing things that are more original, or just something that they haven't seen before, because you get tired of doing the same thing. So already I'm thinking, "OK. Now, what can we do that's going to get me excited?" And I won't do it unless it makes me excited.

: What about you? I mean, you've certainly had the same kind of career practice, constantly trying to challenge yourself.

: Well, yes. I would never stop trying to challenge myself, because that's always my favorite -- it's the scariest stuff that I do when I'm really kind of throwing it on the line as far as testing my filmmaking abilities, as far as pulling off this sequence or that sequence. And those are always the scariest ones to go into because if I fail, then I'm not as good a filmmaker as I thought I was. Kind of scary.

But getting through it is always the most fulfilling, the most rewarding and usually the best filmmaking. By being scared and climbing that mountain anyway. If you look at my whole career, though, I actually didn't try to top myself after "Pulp Fiction." With "Jackie Brown," I actually purposely went underneath "Pulp Fiction" to do more of a character meditation. And I knew I would be in the wrong mood to try to top "Pulp Fiction." I can only just show my strength as a filmmaker and as a character-oriented director and go the other way. Then, after that, then, with "Kill Bill," I wanted to really go to the moon…

I was talking once to Eleanor Coppola, who is the wife of Francis Ford Coppola, and I was talking to her and she asked me what I was doing next, and I had just finished up "Kill Bill," which was like climbing Mount Everest. Come down off of there, you're not going to quite be the same man you were that started it.

And she's talking about what I'm going to do next. So I had another big idea for a cool project, but it would be another Mount Everest, and I was like, "Look, I want to do it, but I don't want to be climbing that mountain again. I just got off."

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