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The latest film from director Quentin Tarantino, the snowbound western The Hateful Eight, hasn’t been as big a hit as the filmmaker or The Weinstein Company hoped, but it’s pretty awesome. The script is full of characters with shadowy motivations and stories, and our perception of them changes the more we learn. As much as we do find out, however, Tarantino doesn’t parse out everything, leaving some mysteries to linger. Throughout, Walton Goggins’ character, Chris Mannix, claims to be the new sheriff of Red Rock, but we never find out one way or another if that’s the truth or bluster. One person that knows is Goggins himself, and the actor recently chimed in on the matter.
To be honest, Goggins doesn’t actually give a concrete answer one way or another, so if you absolutely must know, sorry, you’re going to leave frustrated. Talking to Rolling Stone, the 44-year-old actor revealed that he knows the answer, but that finding out wasn’t necessarily as easy as Quentin Tarantino simply telling him yes or no. He said:
I only had one question for Quentin: ‘Is Mannix really the sheriff of Red Rock? Is that a bluff?’ And his reply was, ‘I need you to figure out the answer and never tell me what it is.’ That was all I needed to know. And he never asked. He may be the only person to date who hasn't asked me that, actually.
That’s a damn near perfect answer. The ambiguity of not knowing one way or another serves to add additional layers of uncertainty and mystery to what is already a movie where characters are enigmatic and evolve over time. As The Hateful Eight progresses, we find out information that drastically changes how we look at different characters.
No one is who they seem at first or who they say they are. Depending on if you believe that Chris Mannix is, as he claims throughout, the new sheriff of Red Rock, you’re going to look at him and his actions in a very different way than if he was lying the whole time.
I also love how Quentin Tarantino approached the subject. Not only did he trust his actor enough to come to such a conclusion on his own, he himself, the guy who wrote the script and directed The Hateful Eight, didn’t even want to know. That’s badass.
The Hateful Eight rolled out in two different versions. One, roughly 20 minutes longer, was released on Christmas Day, playing in 70mm in a limited number of theaters, the widest release in that format in decades. You may remember the to-doo about retrofitting theaters to handle the now somewhat obscure technology and all of the projection issues that followed suit. A shorter version was released wide later on a digital format, allowing more theaters to show the movie.