Quentin Tarantino 'Cared Too Much About Movies' To Ever Be An Actor

Quentin Tarantino didn't always want to be a filmmaker. Not exclusively at least.

For a time, he harbored dreams of being an actor. As a teenager, he performed in plays with the Torrance Community Theater, and, as is the case with most creative folk, when the acting bug bites you, around the time you get your first ovation (no matter how small the part), it bites hard.

At the outset of the 1980s, Tarantino kept his options open and joined an acting school of note in the Toluca Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles. The company's proximity to the Hollywood dream factory no doubt titillated the burgeoning entertainer, but short of having a natural affinity for the craft like, say, Montgomery Clift, Meryl Streep, and Mickey Rourke, it takes a great deal of dedication and loads of scene study to hone your ability. You have to fail, more than once, and you need to make your peace with this. And if you aren't completely committed to improving, you need to find something else to do. Anything else. Because there are people who spend every waking hour that they're not waiting tables or what-have-you performing monologues in their bathroom mirror.

Tarantino was committed alright. Manically so. Just not to acting.

Tarantino found his home behind the camera

In an interview with Deadline pegged to the publication of his first official volume of film criticism, "Cinema Speculation," Tarantino revealed that his time at that Toluca Lake school reinforced his belief that he was placed on this planet to make movies, not act in them.

Why? Because his heroes were the folks calling "Action!" As he told Deadline:

"[A]s an actor, I just wanted to work with this [director]. I wanted to work with this guy, and I wanted to work with this guy. I knew a lot. I filled my brain with all this stuff, only to find out that the other kids in the acting class, who I liked, I thought they were good kids, but they didn't know s***. Not only did they not know s*** about movies, they cared less. They just cared about themselves. They just cared about being movie stars. That was all they cared about."

Tarantino didn't want to serve at the mercy of a director. "I wanted the movie to be mine," he said. So when he booked a role on "The Golden Girls" in 1988 as an Elvis Presley impersonator, he cobbled together the money he earned as a performer, and the residuals that came with it, to sustain him through the preproduction of a little film he'd written called "Reservoir Dogs."

Tarantino took a small role in that movie, and appeared in several other movies throughout the 1990s (e.g. "Pulp Fiction," "From Dusk till Dawn," "Sleep with Me," and the mercifully underseen "Destiny Turns on the Radio"). He even made it to Broadway in a revival of Frederick Knott's "Wait Until Dark," playing the role originated by Robert Duvall (to very bad reviews).

Tarantino gradually backed away from acting (though not soon enough, as evidenced from his jarringly awful portrayal of an Australian in "Django Unchained"), and plans to quit filmmaking altogether after his next movie. Will he be able to resist performing in his swan song? Unless he's playing himself, I sure hope so.