Welcome to another rousing edition of fan casting, where we speculate about famous actors who could have taken on major roles in some of our most beloved motion pictures. This bit of intriguing fan casting actually comes to us from director Quentin Tarantino, who usually does an incredible job finding the ideal person to play the vivid characters he writes into his scripts.
But during a recent, epic interview with CinemaBlend’s own ReelBlend podcast (which will drop, in full, on Thursday), Quentin Tarantino opened up about the three actors he had in mind to play the eponymous Bill in his vengeance thriller Kill Bill. Naturally, David Carradine was one of the choices, as the Kung Fu star eventually landed the role. But according to Tarantino, he wrote the part for Warren Beatty, and also considered Pulp Fiction star Bruce Willis for the part!
Can you actually picture that? Here’s what Quentin Tarantino told the ReelBlend podcast about his Bill casting, and looking for ways to work with Willis following Pulp Fiction:
I think John Travolta is a fantastic actor. I think Bruce Willis is a fantastic actor. Harvey Keitel is an amazing actor. [But] I've yet to write a character from the 2000s on that I thought that they were the perfect person to do it. I mean, frankly, the closest would have been Bruce. Because I wrote [the character of] Bill for Warren Beatty and it ended up not working out. And then I cast David Carradine, and kind of rewrote it for David Carradine. Bruce would have been my third choice. … When I read the original version of Kill Bill, it kind of cracks me up now, because it's the Warren Beatty version.
According to Quentin Tarantino, the role of Bill as originally conceived for Warren Beatty wouldn’t have needed to be altered too drastically if Bruce Willis stepped in for Warren Beatty after it was recast. In his mind, Bill originally was more like a classic Bond villain, and the director thinks Willis could have played that. Said Tarantino:
When I look at that original version, you know, Bill was a little bit more of an evil James Bond type. Okay? Rather than the Bondian villain, he was more like an evil bond. And he kind of had this, he had a Warren Beatty kind of quality about him. And frankly, to tell you the truth, I probably wouldn't had to have rewritten it that much if I had cast Bruce in it. Bruce could have actually played that evil James Bond kind of character and I would have just leaned into his personality maybe just a little bit more. A little less Cristal. A little bit more Coors, all right. A little less champagne, a little more beer.
Now that, we want to see. It breaks our hearts a tad that Tarantino and Willis didn’t figure out more ways to collaborate, as Pulp Fiction remains one of the action star’s most memorable roles. Quentin returns to old favorites like Samuel L. Jackson, Tim Roth, Leonarod DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, finding new uses for them each time. If only Willis were part of that returning ensemble.
What do you think? The director essentially told us he doesn’t want you to think of anyone but David Carradine in the role of Bill. But do you think Warren Beatty or Bruce Willis would have been better?
Come back on Thursday for our full ReelBlend conversation with Quentin Tarantino. It’s a great listen.