David Letterman Recalls Quentin Tarantino Threatening To Kill Him Over A Dating Joke

Quentin Tarantino western with gun

Oh to be a fly on the wall of this verbal fight between David Letterman and Quentin Tarantino. This reportedly happened more than 10 years ago and the beef ended with QT's appearance on Letterman's show in 2009 to promote his Brad Pitt movie Inglourious Basterds. You can watch that clip below, but first -- the story of how they got there.

It's now 2020 and Quentin Tarantino is heading into Oscars night with another Brad Pitt movie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. QT has definitely established himself in the business, and could even make history at the Oscars. But at least at the time of David Letterman's story, he might've been a bit insecure about how people perceived him.

A now very bearded David Letterman was just on Showtime's Desus & Mero show to talk about any famous beefs he had. He immediately answered with this:

I got into a great fight with Quentin Tarantino. ... This was really good.

David Letterman said it started from a conversation with a famous star who was dating Quentin Tarantino, and Letterman's joke about this glamorous woman dating a guy like him:

And I was saying, 'No, you're not dating Quentin Tarantino.' And she said, 'Yes, yes I am.' And I said, 'No please tell me this isn't true.' Now, I'm joking. So I'm thinking the idea is Quentin Tarantino is this movie store nerd ... I'm pretending that I'm stunned this glorious movie star is dating this little squirrelly guy.

David Letterman never names the woman in question in his story, but the now-married Quentin Tarantino does have some famous exes in his past -- including Mira Sorvino, Sofia Coppola, and Margaret Cho. As the Late Show host continued...

Two days later, my assistant gets a call. It’s Quentin Tarantino...

David Letterman said his assistant answered the phone and asked what the call was regarding. According to Letterman, Quentin Tarantino played it cool with the assistant and said he just wanted to say hello to Dave. So Dave got on the phone...

Then he starts screaming at me. 'I’m going to beat you to death! I’m going to kill you! I’m coming to New York, and I'm gonna beat the crap out of you! How can you say that about me?!'

David Letterman said, at that point, he told Quentin Tarantino to hang on so he could get his producer on the other line. Dave said he didn't want anyone to think he was making it up. At that point, according to Letterman's story, QT continued his rant:

'I am coming to New York, I am gonna beat you up and you can't say that about me.' And on and on and on. Like the guy is full blown clinically goofy. So I now say 'OK, how do you want to do this? Bat or fists?' He says 'Bat, you get me a bat and I'll beat the hell out of you with it.'

So Letterman claims he calmly asked Quentin Tarantino when it would be convenient to come in for a fight. Letterman said he even talked to his assistant about setting up a red eye flight for Tarantino to come out for the fight. There was no cooling QT off. But then, Dave said, they didn't hear from him again.

He didn't show up!

Years later, David Letterman continued, Quentin Tarantino was going to be on his show for 2009’s Inglourious Basterds. QT was in the makeup room, and Letterman normally doesn't meet the guests ahead of time, but this time he said he'd go up to see him.

Quentin Tarantino was with his publicist. Letterman brought up the past situation, but admitted to Desus & Mero that he wasn't sure QT really owed him an apology. Dave admitted he got a lot of calls like that in those days, and allowed that he may have been the one to provoke QT. Be that as it may, he knew he had the upper-hand with Tarantino as a guest. So he told QT he owed him an apology. Tarantino's publicist said to just apologize 'cause it was about five minutes before QT was meant to go on for Letterman's show.

In the end, Quentin Tarantino did apologize, but David Letterman said it seemed like he wasn't certain he owed it. (Howard Stern also apologized to Letterman for their past feud.)

So that was David Letterman's story, which maybe we should take with several grains of salt until Quentin Tarantino weighs in -- if he feels like doing so. He may want to distance himself from this alleged angry phone call, which reportedly happened years before he went on Dave's show to talk about Inglourious Basterds.

Classic Dave. Funny how Letterman's interview talked about Brad Pitt, and Quentin Tarantino and Brad Pitt reunited more than 10 years later for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Maybe 10 years from now they'll do it again? Maybe QT will share his own take on the Letterman call at that point.

Gina Carbone

Gina grew up in Massachusetts and California in her own version of The Parent Trap. She went to three different middle schools, four high schools, and three universities -- including half a year in Perth, Western Australia. She currently lives in a small town in Maine, the kind Stephen King regularly sets terrible things in, so this may be the last you hear from her.