A Comprehensive Guide To Quentin Tarantino’s (Over)Acting Career

Everything you need to know about Quentin Tarantino’s acting can be explained in this Fresh Air interview:

GROSS: You dropped out of school when you were 15 or 17?


GROSS: To study acting?

Mr. TARANTINO: Yeah. Mm-hmm. Yeah, I dropped out in middle school. I dropped out in, towards the beginning of the ninth grade. And then I started studying -I started taking acting classes at a, well first I was like in a community theater at that time in Torrance, California, so I finished up like my season with that community theater just acting in, you know, acting in a small part on this play or a big part on that play or a stage manager or assistant stage manager in another play. And then I started studying with James Best, who played Roscoe Coltrane on The Dukes of Hazzard. Roscoe P. Coltrane. (Via)

Tarantino learning to act from someone on The Dukes of Hazzard? Perfect. In honor of QT turning 51 today, let’s take a look back at his acting career, which, yes, includes The Golden Girls.

1987: My Best Friend’s Birthday

Tarantino’s first film, 1983’s Love Birds in Bondage, was unfortunately destroyed, so technically, his debut on-screen performance is in My Best Friend’s Birthday. He also wrote and directed the movie, which caught fire in an editing lab, and most of the ending was lost forever. Hence its 36-minute running time.

1988: The Golden Girls

Via QT himself: “Well, it was kind of a high point because it was one of the few times that I actually got hired for a job. I was one of 12 Elvis impersonators, really just a glorified extra. For some reason they had us sing Don Ho’s ‘Hawaiian Love Chant.’ All the other Elvis impersonators wore Vegas-style jumpsuits. But I wore my own clothes, because I was, like, the Sun Records Elvis. I was the hillbilly cat Elvis. I was the real Elvis; everyone else was Elvis after he sold out.”

1992: Reservoir Dogs

Mr. Pink > Mr. White > Mr. Orange > Mr. Brown > Mr. Blonde > Mr. Blue.

1992: Eddie Presley

During filming of Reservoir Dogs, Tarantino took some time off to appear in Eddie Presley, the cinematic adaptation of Duane Whitaker’s one-man-show about a mentally frail Elvis Presley impersonator. The film was directed by Jeff Burr, and Tarantino and Bruce Campbell play orderlies in an insane asylum.

1994: Pulp Fiction

“Do I have a sign over my garage that says Dead N*gger Storage?”

1994: Sleep with Me

Sleep with Me isn’t a very good movie — it’s basically one big circle jerk of an experiment, in which six different writers wrote a scene each about the main characters — but it does have one memorable scene, when Tarantino goes off at length about “one of the greatest f*cking scripts ever written in the history of Hollywood,” Top Gun. It’s pretty much what I imagine Tarantino is like at every party.

1994: Somebody to Love

Tarantino has a very quick appearance as a bartender.

1995: Saturday Night Live

Dustin would like to see Tarantino, who’s only hosted SNL once in an infamously bad episode, come back to Studio 8H. His reasoning: “It’s kind of a win-win situation: If he makes a great episode, we get a fun Saturday night. If he makes a bad one, well, let’s just say that as much as I love Tarantino, it’s nice every once in a while to see the guy humbled, and nothing humbles you like sketch comedy.”

1995: All-American Girl

In which Tarantino appears in the penultimate episode of a Margaret Cho sitcom.

1995: Destiny Turns on the Radio

Tarantino plays Johnny Destiny, which is basically all you need to know about Destiny Turns on the Radio. Also, that the film also stars James Belushi. I NEED to know what they discussed during filming.

1995: Desperado

“This reminds me of a joke…”

1995: Four Rooms

The premise of Four Rooms is pretty solid: Tim Roth plays a bellhop who connects together four different stories, each directed by Allison Anders, Alexandre Rockwell, Robert Rodriguez, and Quentin Tarantino, who contributed “The Man from Hollywood.” It’s got bets and lighters and chopped-off pinkies and Bruce Willis and Tarantino’s character is named Chester Rush, but it feels like QT-lite (so, Robert Rodriguez).

1995: Dance Me to the End of Love

“Dance Me to the End of Love” is a Leonard Cohen “film” that’s actually a Leonard Cohen music video.

1996: Girl 6

In this Spike Lee joint, QT plays QT, a director who holds an audition where a girl has to be topless. It’d be entirely forgettable, were it not for Lee and Tarantino’s tumultuous history.

1996: Steven Spielberg’s Director’s Chair

It’s a Steven Spielberg simulation video game. Next.

1996: From Dusk Till Dawn

I’ve embedded the clip of Salma Hayek dancing, because it’s Salma Hayek dancing, that’s why. Also, this is beside the point, but I like to imagine Tarantino and George Clooney go out at night to see who can pick up the most attractive woman, and Tarantino ALWAYS wins. Women, they love a man who respects a good foot.

1997: Jackie Brown

I can’t find the exact clip, but sleep easy tonight knowing that yes, Tarantino DID play “Voice On Answering Machine” in Jackie Brown (and that Jackie Brown will always be labeled “underrated”).

2000: Little Nicky

Tarantino in Little Nicky makes no sense, and ALL the sense. He plays a blind teacher named Deacon, and acted alongside many of his movie’s regulars, including Patricia Arquette and Harvey Keitel. Michael J. Nelson of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fame called Little Nicky one of the worst comedies ever made, which explains why Tarantino was so attracted to it — remember he’s the guy who thinks The Lone Ranger was one of 2013’s 10-best movies.

2002-2004: Alias

How did the 2000s go by without Tarantino casting Jennifer Garner in one of his films?

2005: Duck Dodgers

Tarantino voices a one-off karate pro named Master Moloch. He’s a monkey or an old man or something.

2006: The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz


2007: Planet Terror

It’s the part Tarantino was born to play: “Rapist #1.”

2007: Death Proof

Despite being the better of the two Grindhouse segments, Tarantino considers Death Proof his worst movie. It’s not bad exactly; there’s just enough story for it to be anything better than “pretty good.” Anyway, Tarantino plays another bartender, this time named Warren, who runs Texas Chili Parlor, an actual bar/grill in Austin.

2007: Sukiyaki Western Django

I’m not sure what’s happening here, and I don’t really want to know, either.

2007: Diary of the Dead

Tarantino can be heard as a newsreaders in this Romero zombie film, as can Simon Pegg.

2009: Softbank commercial

QT not appearing in more ads: surprising; QT appearing an a Japanese ad: not surprising.

2009: Inglourious Basterds

That’s gotta feel cathartic for all the Tarantino haters out there.

2012: Django Unchained

Would Django have been a better movie without Tarantino’s obligatory appearance? Probably. But then we would have been deprived his hilariously horrible accent. Worth it.