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Jennifer Jason Leigh on The Hateful Eight – 'I've never seen so many grown men cry at the wrap, y'know?'

Leigh, Tim Roth and Walton Goggins on working with Quentin Tarantino on his eighth feature

Jennifer Jason Leigh on The Hateful Eight – 'I've never seen so many grown men cry at the wrap, y'know?'

Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Tim Roth in The Hateful Eight

While the standard procedure for any actor in an interview is to proclaim just how 'amazing' it was working with their director, when it comes to Quentin Tarantino, you can well believe it. 'If you like Tarantino movies, you'll love this one,' smiles Tim Roth, who stars in the director's latest – grisly western The Hateful Eight – alongside a splendid cast including Kurt Russell, Bruce Dern, Samuel L. Jackson and Michael Madsen.

A chamber drama, seasoned with lashings of swearing and bloodshed, it sees a group of antagonistic characters holed up in a cabin in snowy Wyoming in the midst of a fierce blizzard. Immediately recalling Tarantino's bloody 1992 debut Reservoir Dogs, which starred Madsen and Roth and similarly played out its tale of criminal betrayal in a confined space, it's an exhilarating watch – everything we've come to expect from a Tarantino movie.

Set a few years after the Civil War, Russell's bounty hunter John Ruth is shepherding the dangerous fugitive Daisy Domaghue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to the nearby town of Red Rock to be hanged. Leigh, nominated for a Golden Globe nomination for her performance, is another who can't stop waxing lyrical. 'It was really exceptional. I've never seen so many grown men cry at the wrap, y'know? Nobody wanted it to end.'

Shot in Ultra Panavision 70mm, a grandeur-inducing film format last used on the 1966 film Khartoum, Tarantino has gone all-out to produce an old-fashioned Western experience. The movie begins with an Overture, showcasing the film's score by the legendary Ennio Morricone, and even has an intermission. Meanwhile, the on-camera detail is extraordinary; you can even see the characters' ice-cold breath inside the cabin – caused by five air conditioning units blasting cold air onto the sound stage.

As he so often does, Tarantino screened films to the cast during the shoot. The 1971 film Man In The Wilderness, with Richard Harris – a 1800s survival tale, which basically tells the same story as the upcoming The Revenant – was key. But there were others – not least the Kurt Russell-starring sci-fi The Thing, which similarly plays with claustrophobia and suspicion. 'I think The Thing was a big influence [on Quentin],' explains actor Walton Goggins. 'Ennio Morricone gave him a horror score.'

Now on his second Tarantino outing, after 2012's Oscar-winning slavery drama Django Unchained, Goggins plays Chris Mannix, the new Sheriff of nearby Red Rock. 'When you meet Chris Mannix, he is an agitator,' he explains. 'He is a rabble rouser, a troublemaker. And very quickly you learn that you could blow him over with a piece of paper. He is a guy in arrested state of development. He's never had an original idea in his life.'

Jennifer Jason Leigh on The Hateful Eight – 'I've never seen so many grown men cry at the wrap, y'know?'

Walton Goggins as Sheriff Chris Mannix in The Hateful Eight
With a plot that turns on a dime, Goggins' character certainly doesn't stay that way – but then no-one is really who they seem in The Hateful Eight – except perhaps for Leigh's ultra-vile villainess, Daisy. On her first Tarantino experience, the actress revelled in immersing herself into this all-male environment. 'I'm like a girl's girl,' she says. 'But it was so great to be a part of. I really was one of the guys, and they didn't treat me differently, but at the same time, I felt incredibly loved and cared for.'

The cast is very much made up of Tarantino all-stars, featuring actors from all the different eras of his career. Roth, who plays the flamboyant Red Rock hangman Oswaldo Mobray, hadn't worked with Tarantino since 1995's anthology Four Rooms. 'His actors will just crop up in his films over the years,' he says. 'The one that's his leading man in the end is Sam [Jackson, here playing bounty hunter Major Marquis Warren]. He speaks Quentin's words in a particular way. I think Sam is his Cary Grant.'

Roth was one of the first to receive an early draft of the script, which subsequently got leaked online – at a time when Tarantino had only shown it to six people, including Madsen and Dern. Roth, who was immediately absolved of all suspicion by Tarantino, sympathises. 'It was a first draft. I think that was the hard thing. He'd just got through writing it.' So who did it? 'It doesn't matter who did it…but in fact, it made the script evolve and be better and better and better.'

While Tarantino contemplated cancelling the film, he was re-invigorated after gathering his intended cast together for a charity live-reading of the script at Los Angeles' Ace Hotel Theatre. 'The audience went crazy for it,' remembers Goggins, who also can't sing his director's praises enough. 'Nobody can do it like Quentin does. There are a lot of people who approximate it, or try to get close to it, but once Quentin stops making movies I don't know if there will ever be another one like him.'

The Hateful Eight is on general release from Fri 8 Jan.

The Hateful Eight

  • 4 stars
  • 2015
  • US
  • 168 min
  • 18
  • Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
  • Written by: Quentin Tarantino
  • Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michael Madsen, Tim Roth
  • UK release: 8 January 2016

Bounty hunter John Ruth (Russell) is transporting vile criminal Daisy Domergue (Leigh) to be hanged, but takes shelter from a blizzard at Minnie's Haberdashery. Tarantino's eighth film recalls his first, being similarly fuelled by claustrophobia, suspicion and intrigue, but Reservoir Dogs didn't have Hateful Eight's…


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