Quentin Tarantino Made It Tough For Michael Madsen To Rehearse Reservoir Dogs' Torture Scene

Quentin Tarantino has made a name for himself as a violence-obsessed filmmaker with a knack for blending different film genres and pop culture references into twisted tales of revenge. "Reservoir Dogs," his first feature-length film, tells the story of a group of thieves who, after pulling off a diamond heist, become increasingly paranoid that their group is harboring a traitor. While hiding in a warehouse, the men discuss their options and tend to a severely wounded Mr. Orange (Tim Roth).

When Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen) shows up with a kidnapped police officer, Marvin Nash (Kirk Baltz), stuffed inside his car's trunk, things fall apart. Left to watch a tied-up Nash and a bleeding Mr. Orange, Mr. Blonde lets his brutal tendencies show. In one of the film's most memorable scenes, Mr. Blonde casually tortures Nash while dancing to the Steelers Wheel's "Stuck in the Middle With You." Darkly disturbing and funny, the scene solidifies Mr. Orange as a delightfully unhinged madman. However, rehearsing and filming the scene wasn't easy for Madsen. Apparently, Tarantino's deranged script got inside his head.

Just how does one maniacally dance?

During the 25th Anniversary celebration for "Reservoir Dogs," Tarantino and the cast held a panel at the Tribeca Film Festival. Tarantino and Madsen discussed the film's famous dance scene. When Madsen received the script, he was unsure about the part where Mr. Blonde was supposed to dance. Madsen noted: 

"In the script, it said, 'Mr. Blonde maniacally dances around.' I kept thinking, 'What the f*** does that mean? Mick Jagger?' I didn't know what the hell to do. I heard that music and I said, 'Oh, f***. I better do something here.'" 

Under pressure to perform, he recalled an old dance he had seen James Cagney do in a movie once and channeled that. 

"He did this crazy little dance thing, and it just popped into my head at the last second. That's where it came from."

The dance wasn't the only hard part of filming the scene. In rehearsals with Tarantino, Madsen had trouble reconciling Mr. Blonde's psychopathic nature with his personal life. "I played the cop and said [the line], 'I have a little kid at home.' Michael [had] just had a son, and that f***ed him up," said Tarantino (via The Hollywood Reporter). Madsen's uneasiness with Mr. Orange's behavior gave him reservations about shooting the scene. Madsen "felt the audience would like him killing the cop, but not if he had a kid." Still, Madsen put his feelings aside to deliver one of the best dance scenes in film history.