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Kill Bill: Volume 2 - It's kind of like working with a hyper-kinetic, maybe 13-year-old, one-man film school; a mad, genius, brat...

Feature by: Jack Foley

QUENTIN Tarantino has been responsible for some of the great career renaissance’s of recent years, so it is little wonder to find that the cast of Kill Bill: Volume Two was gushing in their praise for the provocative film-maker.

Speaking at a London press conference, ahead of the UK premiere of the eagerly-anticipated sequel, the film’s stars, Uma Thurman, Michael Madsen, David Carradine and Daryl Hannah, all leapt at the opportunity of heaping praise upon him - as well as defending the portrayal of violence in his pictures, which often courts controversy.

Carradine, in particular, was especially complimentary, referring to Tarantino as his favourite director of all-time, and crediting him with helping him to stretch himself in ways he no longer thought possible.

"He's so much fun, and he's having so much fun," he explained, in front of a packed Dorchester Hotel venue.

"One of the things about working with him is that it's difficult to actually stop and talk to him, whether he's shooting or not, as it's like talking to a runaway train, because he's always in so many places at once.

"But when he starts to focus on you, and direct you, it's really a privilege, because you actually get a one-on-one with him.

"The other thing is that a good director generally does not tell an actor how to act. Most of the time, when they do, it doesn't help. It's quite the reverse. I'm told that Michael Caine once asked John Huston, 'you're not telling me anything, why don't you tell me anything?' And his reply was: "Well, when you cast it right, you don't need to."

"And that is the truth with most directors, but Quentin was actually able to tell me things that ignited me, and I even have a funny metaphor for what it actually felt like. It was as though Quentin found, in the back of the cellar, this vintage bottle of champagne, all covered with dust, and he took it out, and polished it up, and maybe even shook it a little, and then popped the cork; and out came this thing that I didn't feel as though I had ever accomplished before.

"I mean it actually got me, after 40 years in the business, 102 feature movies, god knows how much TV, 35 plays, including 11 Shakespearean plays, to push yet another envelope."

Hannah, too, remains tremendously grateful for the opportunity of appearing in the director’s latest movie, having been visited by the director while performing in London’s West End.

"It's kind of like working with a hyper-kinetic, maybe 13-year-old, one-man film school; a mad, genius, brat, but who's having the greatest time of his life, and so enthusiastic," she laughed. "When he's shooting he's like euphoric, so he's just so excited and brings that excitement to everyone. It's so contagious."

Madsen describes working with Tarantino as being ‘as good as it gets’, since Kill Bill marks the second time they have collaborated, following the star’s memorable turn, as Mr Blonde, in Reservoir Dogs.

"The one thing that I really like about him is that he hasn't changed at all, he's still the same guy that he was a few years ago, when we did Reservoir Dogs.

"He's got a lot bigger toys to play with now, and a lot more time, but he deserves that. A lot of people, when they get well-known and wealthy, they completely change, and he's not done that, so I feel very lucky to have worked with him twice."

All four stars also dismissed suggestions that Tarantino’s films were overly violent and warranted greater censorship.

Kill Bill: Volume One, for instance, climaxed with the massacre of Lucy Liu’s Crazy 88 bodyguards, during which body parts flew, while Volume Two contains scenes of The Bride [Thurman’s character] being beaten up and buried alive, as well as some inevitably violent showdowns.

Yet when asked to comment on the level of violence, and even sadism, in the film, they did not see any need for things to be toned down.

"I think that people have to have creative freedom, and I think that as a fellow creative person, by choosing to work with that person, you're engaging with their psyche, and their dreams," stressed Thurman, defiantly. "You either believe in their vision, or you don't, and I certainly believe in him [Tarantino]."

Adds Carradine: "Censorship is really a dangerous thing. I do think we make too many rules anyway, and the safety police are after us about everything we do.

"But I think we are getting the cause and effect mixed up. Art is an effect of society, not a cause of it. If there are too many violent movies, then maybe we should start educating our kids differently.

"We live in enormously violent, scary times, so we will see movies that reflect that. It's a given. And the only way to get out of that, at present, would be to limit creativity."

Stronger, too, was Madsen, who referred to such suggestions as ‘preposterous’.

"I think violence existed long before movies were being made, so if you stopped making movies tomorrow, there would still be violence all over the place," he said.

Hannah put it most succinctly, however, stating simply: "If you don’t like it, don’t go."

The violence hasn’t prevented audiences from seeing either of the films, however, given that Kill Bill: Volume One sold over two million copies, on DVD, on its first day of release in America, while the sequel took $25 million at the box office, placing it at the number one spot.

But then, such figures, will probably come as no surprise to the film’s main star, Thurman, who paid her own special tribute to the director, for making her his ‘muse’.

"He loves the incredible demand of giving you something worth watching, something which shocks you, and something that's new, and he has the courage to change tones, from beat to beat. So moving with him in that way, it's scary, because you're on the edge," she explained.

"There were times when you would look around a room with all these people, with no limbs and blood spurting from them, and sort of go 'oh my God, this is it’, but that's what's so brilliant - he's unfiltered, he's unprocessed, he doesn't water anything down, so you live very dangerously working with him. It's really quite special."

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