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11 Underappreciated Performances In Quentin Tarantino Films

By Agent Bedhead | Seriously Random Lists | December 26, 2012 | Comments ()


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In celebration of the release of Django Unchained, I thought it would be a decent idea to take a quick look back at various actors who never really received their due after giving all they had in various Quentin Tarantino films from the past. Obviously, you won't find Christoph Waltz on this list because, well, he won an Oscar for his impeccable performance as the frightening yet disarming Col. Hans Landa. You won't find Samuel L. Jackson on this list either. That boy is far too appreciated as well. Let's do this.

Melanie Laurent as Shosanna Dreyfus in Inglourious Basterds: As the face of Jewish vengeance, Laurent went alarmingly unnoticed by audiences and critics at large. Somehow, Diane Kruger received a Golden Globe nomination instead of Laurent. How did this happen, people?

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Tim Roth as Mr. Orange in Reservoir Dogs: Perhaps what made Roth so compelling here is that he effectively stood in for the audience in this role. Thanks to Roth, we reacted to every scene in this movie as if we too were painfully slouching over in his panicked, bloodied shoes.

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Bronson Pinchot as Elliot Blitzer in True Romance: The man who played Balki from "Perfect Strangers" behaved perfectly against type here. That insane cackling during the blowjob scene? Totally his own idea.

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Michael Madsen as Budd in Kill Bill: Vol. 2: Perhaps this movie dovetailed with the beginning of Madsen's own downfall in life, but Budd's fate (while living, not his death) was rather tragic, and Madsen portrayed a wonderful world weariness in this role.

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Robert Forster as Max Cherry in Jackie Brown: This is perhaps the most understated, gentlemanly character to ever appear in a Tarantino flick. Didn't your heart ache for him as Jackie Brown strutted away at the end of this movie?

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Kurt Russell as Stuntman Mike in Death Proof: Forget that QT was seriously off his game until the final thirty minutes of this movie, Butterfly. As this psychotic character, Russell was completely believable and played the role so straight that one wonders how he pulled it off without laughing.

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David Carradine as Bill in Kill Bill: Vol. 2: This will probably draw a few chuckles from detractors, but I really feel like Carradine should have received an Oscar nomination for his surprisingly nuanced take on this role. He also delivered Tarantino dialogue like a boss.

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August Diehl in Major Dieter Hellstrom in Inglourious Basterds: Out of the entire ensemble cast, this fellow was nearly as intimidating and charming as Waltz's Jew Hunter. Diehl just didn't get nearly as much screentime and was forced to spend much of it jockeying with that ultimately distracting pretty-boy, Michael Fassbender.

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Uma Thurman as Mia Wallace in Pulp Fiction: Uma may very well have ended up on the iconic Pulp poster, but it's very easy to overlook the fact that this was not only her coolest but also her greatest movie performance ever. Uma completely lost herself in this role, and Uma has never acted for any director the way she has for QT.

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Bridget Fonda as Melanie Ralston in Jackie Brown: Sure, this beach bunny role wasn't the most substantive role that QT has ever written, but damn, Fonda really knew how to press a man's buttons here. Well, until she pushed it too far.

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Brad Pitt as Lt. Aldo Raine in Inglourious Basterds: Yes, Brad Pitt delivered an underrated comic performance in this role! He was a total hoot, and nobody gave him the time of day once the Waltz worship commenced.

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Quentin Tarantino in Every Movie He's Ever Made: Oh, just kidding on this last one. QT, stay behind the camera!

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Agent Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She and her little black heart can be found at Celebitchy.



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  • Zombietroy

    No Eric Stoltz as Lance in Pulp Fiction? Shame.

  • Allin

    I absolutely agree on August Diehl. He had enormous presence. Fassbender´s greatness, on the other hand, escapes me. And Brad Pitt´s performance is even worse than what he inflicted on us in Troy.

  • bucslim

    As an unapologetic QT fanboy, I would watch an entire movie with Michael Parks as Texas Ranger Earl McGraw. I nearly shit myself listening to him discussing Stunt Man Mike while walking down the hospital hallway with his son lapping up every fucking word - 'plain ole' Newton!' Discussing the kill crazy rampage at the Two Pines Chapel, again with his son - 'shitcan that blasphemy son, this here's a place of worship.' At the counter of World of Liquor in From Dusk Till Dawn - 'who the hell knows what goes on in the mind of a mongoloid?' Shooting James Brolin in Planet Terror - 'useless as a pecker on a Pope.' Feeding his soon to be zombie wife - 'Ramona . . . you fart like a goddamn pack mule.'

    And not even a mention here? Come on man!!!

  • Steve

    I still say, nearly 20 years later, that if Tarantino and Buscemi switched roles in Pulp Fiction, the film would be damn near perfect.

  • Uhh...no. If your Oscar nominated, you are not underrated, PERIOD! My vote goes to Pam Grier who carried a whole muthaf*cking Tarantino film but still got no love for it. My second vote goes to Laurent and third goes actually goes to Uma Thurman for Kill Bill 1 and 2. Her range and awesomeness was totally ignored by critics and obviously producers and directors who sadly miscast her in film after film afterwards.

  • Adrienne Marie

    Thank god for someone mentioning Tim Roth!! I believe he has always been underrated as an actor (and still think he was robbed of the Oscar for Rob Roy).

  • Eve

    "Out of the entire ensemble cast, this fellow was nearly as intimidating and charming as Waltz’s Jew Hunter."

    Are you kidding me? Major Deiter Hellstrom scared me a way more than Landa. In my opinion, he embodied the typical Nazi officer: persistent and suspicious (when I saw him questioning Hicox's accent at the tavern, I knew that motherf*cker would never let go), arrogant, ruthless...and those dead, cold eyes? F*cking chilling.

  • Josh

    Diane Kruger did not get a Golden Globe nomination.

  • googergieger
  • Kobie

    Harvey Keitel as Winston Wolf in Pulp Fiction has always been one of my favorites.

  • apsutter

    Robert Forster as Max Cherry is my favorite character in any QT film. He's such a wonderful gentleman who is only looking out for Jackie's best interests. I've wanted QT to cast him again ever since.

  • Idle Primate

    gandolfini, while not a stretch, was really good in true romance. as was my one true love, Patricia Arquette. come to think of it. everyone was kind of rockin it.

    i dont love a lot of his movies, but he sure seems good at getting actors to go the distance

  • The uncut fight between Gandolfini and Alabama is one of my all time favorite fight scenes. Just brutal and Alabama gives as good as she gets.

  • Mrs. Julien

    A thousand times, yes!

  • Idle Primate

    the only time i ever enjoyed QT on screen was in the movie Destiny Turns On The Radio, which was a substantive role in someone else's movie, the year after pulp fiction

  • Zzzzzz

    How was Uma underappreciated. She was Oscar nominated for it.

  • ,

    Waltz has had my attention since he managed to somewhat redeem "Water For Elephants."

  • Don't go blaming Diane Kruger for people not noticing Melanie Laurent. The answer is far simpler than you think. Melanie Laurent campaigned as a leading actress in an ensemble film, while Diane Kruger campaigned as a supporting actress in an ensemble film. Laurent would have had traction if she rightly campaigned as supporting. Either they're all lead--Laurent, Kruger, Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, even Fassbender--or they're all supporting.

  • Melanie Laurent blew me away in "Inglourious Basterds." Shoshanna's revenge was the best part of the movie.

  • bellaluna30

    It really was. And her lover was also fabulous.

  • whatever, man

    You have omitted the one awesomely great performance to truly overlooked, which was John Hawkes in From Dusk Till Dawn.

  • Ben

    wasnt dusk till dawn a robert rodriguez movie though?

  • TheAggroCraig

    Sort of. Rodriguez directed, Tarantino wrote the screenplay.

  • Fredo

    "I didn't say shit to him!!!"

  • And I just realized that was John Hawkes in the beginning of the movie. Time to re-watch! I also noticed recently he played the school janitor in a season 2 ep of Buffy, the one where the star-crossed ghosts keep possessing everyone.

  • eris

    Melanie was just such an deliciously awful person..I just love how she antagonizes everyone in that movie.

  • sherlockzz

    i'm a Brad Pitt fan. I think he stole every scene he was in... in "OCEAN'S ELEVEN'! The man can act. I don't know what it was he was doing up there on the "Basterds" screen but if it was acting I'd rank it as almost a total failure.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    I don't know if he stole every scene in Ocean's Eleven. I only know that he was stuffing his face with something in every scene.

  • sherlockzz

    Maybe he can only act with his mouth full!

  • Mrs. Julien

    I say this every time: Brad Pitt is a character actor trapped in a leading man's body.

  • Allin

    I think of Brad Pitt more as a mediocre actor hidden in a beautiful man´s body. That said, he seems like a very decent man.

  • Moriquenya

    Typo: Hans not Hana.

  • Natallica

    As long as his ensemble casts go, QT hit the jackpot with "Basterds". Even performers with one or two lines were great (Omar Doom and his "Antonio MARGHEEEERIIIIITIIII" come to mind)

  • Count me in the minority, but I found the casting for Basterds to be an utter mess. Christoph Waltz was the only person who I felt fit in his role. Its a toss up in my mind between BJ Novak (who played his scenes like he was still on set of the Office) and Mike Meyers (who once again...did a completely shit foreign accent in a role) as two who was the most painful to watch on screen.

    I love most of QT's work...but for the life of me, I HATED Basterds. Nothing in that film worked for me.

  • ClaireB

    That would be overrated for me in Laurent's case. Man do I hate her acting.

  • Fredo

    I don't know how anyone can underrate Robert Forster's performance in Jackie Brown. Sure, he didn't have the fire and brimstone of Sam Jackson or the cool cunning of Pam Grier or even the "WTF?"-ness of Robert DeNiro, but without him, that movie breaks up. Wasn't he nominated for an Oscar for it?

    I'd also mention Darryl Hanna's Elle from Kill Bill. She manages to be the anti-Bride, the perfect archenemy of Uma Thurman's character, to the point that you never doubt that she'd be mad at the manner of Budd's disposal of the Bride. At least mad enough to put a mamba in his cash case.

  • apsutter

    I'd still call him under-rated because the movie itself is very under-rated. I only saw it a couple years ago and couldnt believe I put it off for so long. Also most people I know hadnt seen it or even heard about it and I know a lot of QT fans and film nerds. I think it's because people were expecting something different after Pulp Fiction.

  • It's hard to consider the only Academy Award-nominated element of Jackie Brown underrated. Foster's the only actor that grabbed the attention of his fellow actors and film professionals in that feature. That's not underrated.

  • Idle Primate

    it also jump started him getting roles again in more prominent films. i.e. stuff you saw or heard of

  • John W

    Agree. Uma Thurman also received an Academy Award nom for Pulp Fiction.

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