"Never meet your heroes" is a maxim that got ruined by Jared from Subway. That counts double when your heroes are grumpy old legends who no longer give a damn whom they offend. Like veteran film composer Ennio Morricone, whose scores have touched Quentin Tarantino in ways only rivaled by a good foot massage. But Tarantino has had a rough time basking in the presence of his idol, because like the celebrity equivalent of a solar eclipse, Morricone keeps throwing shade and immediately taking it back.
Last week, the German edition of Playboy published a tell-all interview with Morricone. The 90-year-old had a lot of interesting things to say about the movie business, mostly about how it now sucks. But a lot of the rancor went toward his most recent collaborator, Quentin Tarantino, who, according to the spaghetti western icon, "simply recooks old dishes." Morricone also allegedly called the director a "cretin" whose movies are "trash."
The hostility seemed to have stemmed from the fact that Tarantino dared to demand that Morricone score the music for The Hateful Eight "within days" -- for which he got a "pompous" Oscar he never even wanted anyway. And as anyone who has ever spent the better part of an afternoon waiting in line at the post office can tell you, you can't rush an old man without making an enemy for life.
Surprisingly, some people do read Playboy for the articles, and Morricone's interview became the trash talk of Hollywood. Except that it might not have happened at all. When word came out, Morricone published a statement on his Facebook page denying every drop of tea Playboy had spilled, and claiming that he "never expressed any negative statements about the Academy, Quentin, or his films." Morricone said he has always spoken highly of their collaboration in the past, and recently even called Tarantino one of the cinematic greats during a press conference with the director present. He's even prepared to take legal actions against Playboy for printing such elaborate lies, because not even in German can you accidentally mistranslate the word for "cretin" from the word for "one of the greatest directors of this time."
But the cries of fake news would be slightly more believable if Morricone hadn't developed a reputation for going fortissimo when he should've gone pianissimo -- i.e. keeping his trap shut. In fact, this whole story already happened, almost beat for beat, in 2013. Back then, an Italian newspaper printed a story in which Morricone was badmouthing Tarantino to a group of students after the release of Django Unchained, on which the composer declined to work because the director had asked too much of him on too short a notice.
He did let Tarantino use one of his old songs, "Ancora Qui," something which he allegedly regretted so much that he asserted he'd never work with the director again, saying that Tarantino "places music in his films without coherence," and that he didn't even like Django because the movie had "too much blood." That makes sense coming from someone who made westerns in a time when getting shot in a movie looked like you were hastily checking yourself for breast lumps.
When word spread of this dissing, Morricone quickly published a statement claiming his words had been taken out of context and that he had never said anything bad Tarantino. Why would he? He had always spoken highly of Tarantino in the past, and had recently said so in the presence of the director while handing him a lifetime achievement award. Sound familiar? So yeah, maybe Playboy published a long, very specific string of lies. Or maybe, Morricone is a very passionate, very crotchety old genius who likes to complain and doesn't always realize when he's speaking on the record. And if there was ever a publication that knows how to get people to reveal more than they ever intended, it's Playboy.
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