As a writer, do you start hearing [a particular] actor saying those lines? Let's talk about Jackson.
Tarantino: Sam said my dialogue so well — not for a while. He says my dialogue well today. But for a while there, he said it so perfectly that it was hard not to write for him. I spent about a year and a half writing "Kill Bill." I think for the first six months, even though I didn't want Bill to be black, I was writing for Sam Jackson. I wasn't trying to write it for Sam Jackson. I could not not write for Sam Jackson.
Are you hearing music just like you're hearing dialogue while you're writing?
Tarantino: The answer is yes, to some degree. It happens all during the time. Sometimes it happens even before I start writing. It's kind of one of the things that makes me want to actually write it, is I come up with the sequence, then I come up with the cool song in it. And whenever I can just put a needle on a record and play a piece of music as I walk around and think about the movie, that's a big part in the process. I'm actually jumping over the writing process, I'm jumping over the shooting process, and now I'm kind of in a theater, watching the scene with an audience, before I've even written a word on the page.
When you're actually on set, is your script a template or is it the bible? In other words, are the actors riffing?
Tarantino: No, no, no. Actors aren't there to riff. They're there to say the dialogue. Uma [Thurman] had a quote once that's really true. She said that when actors improvise, if they're not just adding mmms and ahs, then that is all writing. And that is not what you hire an actor to do. You hire an actor to learn the lines and say them. Now there are exceptions to that. Sam Jackson is the exception. Sam Jackson is a terrific writer. He's a terrific writer in character. He knows how his characters should talk. Now, he loves my words. That's one of the reasons that he works with me. That's one of the reasons he would tackle a character like Stephen [in "Django Unchained"], is for me and my scenario. But Sam writes like I write.
"Django" is a script you worked on for, what, nine, 10 years? Is there an epiphany? Do the characters really tell you when it's ready to go?
Tarantino: I came up with the idea of "Kill Bill" at some point during the process of making "Pulp Fiction." But then I did "From Dusk Till Dawn." And then I thought, "Well, I've kind of done a bride heist movie," and so I was looking for something else to do. And so I did "Jackie Brown." Then I came up with the idea of "Inglourious Basterds." My problem is not writer's block. My problem is I can't stop writing.