ByPeter K Nyblom, writer at
Radio Non-Personality, puts words together in sentences. Sci-Fi and Super Freak
Peter K Nyblom

Amid all of QT's blood and broken doors in The Hateful Eight, real carnage and destruction was unknowingly committed by star Kurt Russell.

If you've seen the film, you know there's a scene where Daisy Domergue picks up a guitar and strums a sorrowful tune. At the end of it, Russell's character John Ruth grabs it and smashes it in a vengeful spite against a wooden column. At the end of the rampage we catch a glimpse of Daisy's shocked face. Little did we know, as film-goers, that her stunned and distressed reaction was real. NO, it's not great method acting, it was caused by Jennifer Jason Leigh's realization that the musical instrument was an 1870s historical relic on loan from The Martin Guitar Museum. What makes this superbly tragic is that there were 6 doubles on hand, created specifically to be smashed in the scene.

This little horrifying tidbit came to light quite by accident after a late December screening of the film on the CBS lot. During a Q & A panel that included Tarantino film technical and production alum, Academy award-winning sound mixer Mark Ulano related the story;

“What was supposed to happen was we were supposed to go up to that point, cut, and trade guitars and smash the double. Well, somehow that didn’t get communicated to Kurt, so when you see that happen on the frame, Jennifer’s reaction is genuine. Kurt shattered the antique guitar and everyone was pretty freaked out. Tarantino was in a corner of the room with a funny curl on his lips, because he got something out of it with the performance.” Funny enough, the Martin Museum representatives only asked two questions after the incident. “‘Do you need another one and can we please have all the pieces to display in our museum?’”

Well, when Martin got wind of the whole story via an article in Reverb, the response was swift and harsh. Very Tarantino-like, one could say. Museum Director Dick Boak told Reverb:

“We were informed that it was an accident on set. We assumed that a scaffolding or something fell on it. We understand that things happen, but at the same time we can’t take this lightly. All this about the guitar being smashed being written into the script and that somebody just didn’t tell the actor, this is all new information to us. We didn’t know anything about the script or Kurt Russell not being told that it was a priceless, irreplaceable artifact from the Martin Museum. As a result of the incident, the company will no longer loan guitars to movies under any circumstances.”

Probably a good call on their part. Worse yet, Boak says the guitar was only insured for the purchase price, which is nowhere near its value. The shattered pieces were delivered to Martin, in hopes that reassembly could be done. But after seeing the utter decimation of the piece, they realized it was fruitless.

Image by flickr user Edward Blake
Image by flickr user Edward Blake

Where does the blame lie here? We certainly can't blame Kurt. He was just doing his job and if no one clued him in to the plan of switching out the guitar, no ill will can be sent his way. Don't you think Tarantino must ultimately take responsibility here? He's in charge and wrote the smashing into the script. What boggles my mind is why on earth you would need such a relic in the first place. Sure directors like authenticity, but in this case, who the heck would know the difference? Kurt Russell sure didn't. In addition, the song Daisy sings wasn't even written until the 1900s, well after the film takes place.


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