Why Kill Bill Star Michael Madsen Thinks The Movie Being Split Into Two Parts Hurt Its Oscar Chances

Masden in Kill Bill 2

Director Quentin Tarantino is an acclaimed filmmaker, and his projects regularly receive positive reception from both critical and audiences. Tarantino flicks often get recognized for top awards like the Academy Awards, with his movies like Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, The Hateful Eight, Django Unchained, and Pulp Fiction all getting Oscar attention upon their release. But the Kill Bill movies were surprisingly snubbed in this regard, and star Michael Madsen actually believes that it's because the story was split into two volumes.

Quentin Tarantino's story about The Bride was released Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Kill Bill Vol. 2, with a few months separating the movies. There's been some debate about whether or not it's technically one movie, a conversation that often happens on CinemaBlend's ReelBlend podcast. When actor Michael Madsen appeared on the pod, the Budd actor explained that he thought the movie being repurposed into a two-parter actually hurt its chances at awards. Madsen recalled being informed of this change by Tarantino himself, saying:

I remember I was actually shooting in my trailer with David [Carradine], the opening scene with me and David. And he came to me that day, Quentin, and he said ‘Michael, can you believe it?’ And I go ‘Believe what?’ and he goes ‘I just talked to the producer and they want to release this in two parts. Part 1 and Part 2.’ And I go ‘Really?’ And he says ‘Do you think I should do that?’ and I go ‘I don’t know.’ And he goes ‘I think it’s ridiculous!’ And he started laughing ‘I’m not gonna do that.’ Meanwhile six months later it was Volume 1 and Volume 2. I think it confused the hell out of everybody.

Well, that seemingly ends the online debate about whether Kill Bill is one movie or two. Because despite being released in two installments, it wasn't originally written that way. Quentin Tarantino was eventually convinced to split up the project, allowing for the entirety of the story to be told without having to make cuts and meet a theater appropriate runtime. But Michael Madsen also thought this was a confusing aspect of its production and reception.

Quentin Tarantino has always been a filmmaker whose projects have serious runtimes. He methodically crafts his dialogue and stories, which often need more time than other directors' projects. Beatrix Kiddo's tale of revenge was no exception, as we travelled through the character's history and motivation for wanting Bill dead.

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The story of Kill Bill is dense, including various flashbacks, a full animated sequence, and tons of blood and violence. Quentin Tarantino had so much going on that the full movie likely would have been an extremely long theatrical experience. Splitting it into two volumes gave the plot room to breathe, but Michael Madsen also sees the downside.

Michael Madsen played Budd in the Kill Bill movies. While his role was relatively small in the first one, his character's backstory was greatly expanded with Vol. 2. But since the story was split, audiences barely got to know who Budd was during Vol. 1. It's this disconnect that Madsen believes cost Kill Bill its deserved Oscar attention. Specifically the performances given by Uma Thurman and David Carradine gave as the Bride and Bill respectively. As he explained on ReelBlend,

And I think that it’s the reason why Uma probably… Like I think David should have been nominated. I think David should have gotten an Academy Award. I think Uma should have gotten one. They should have went to her house and knocked on the door and handed it to her. Nobody knew what was going to happen in the second part because there didn’t seem to have an ending to the movie. And everyone had to wait three months for the ending to come out, and then it was past the qualifying time for certain things. I think that confused a few people. But when you see it now, I usually tell people to watch Part 2 first and then go back and see Part 1 Because it makes more sense for me that way.

Well, this certainly puts things in perspective. Because Kill Bill wasn't originally mean to be a two-part story, its format need to be adjusted after the decision to split into two movies. But given how Awards Season submissions work, there are specific rules ahead of voting. It sounds like said voters weren't given the contents of Vol. 2 when voting on the movie's merits, which may have affected their perception of Quentin Tarantino's work.

Ultimately Kill Bill is known for being split into two movies, neither of which gained the award notoriety of Quentin Tarantino's other movies. But they remain apart of the pop culture lexicon, with many fans still holding out hope that Tarantino will produce Kill Bill Vol. 3. Said threequel would pick up on the life of Vernita Greene's daughter, as she seeks revenge against Beatrix for killing her mother in front of her.

It should be interesting to see exactly how many more film projects Quentin Tarantino ultimately brings to theaters. While he's maintained that he'd end at nine original films, he's also expressed how loopholes like Kill Bill Vol. 3 or his Star Trek movie could keep him directing for longer. We'll just have to see if we ever get to catch up with Nikkia Green, and her inevitable conflict with The Bride. In the meantime, check out our 2020 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

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Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.