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Quentin Tarantino’s mom shrugs off criticism she dissed his ‘little writing career’

A man in a black-and-yellow bowling shirt
Quentin Tarantino, seen at the 2020 Oscar nominees lunch, made himself a promise about his mother.
(Jordan Strauss / Invision / Associated Press)

Quentin Tarantino’s mother isn’t going to play this game.

The filmmaker spoke in depth recently about his childhood on the podcast “The Moment With Brian Koppelman” — and by in depth, we’re talking about almost a half an hour of breaking down his school life in detail from ages 8 to 11. Basically, he didn’t care about a lot of his schoolwork, but he was good at reading, writing and history.

Then the “Reservoir Dogs” director explained the start of his writing career, which happened around age 12, and the early hurdles he faced.

“My mom always had a hard time about my scholastic non-abilities,” he said. One day she was on him about something unrelated to his writing hobby, which had recently turned into attempts to write screenplays. Like, he was working on an after-school special.

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“In the middle of her little tirade, she said, ‘Oh, and by the way, this little writing career?’ — with the finger quotes — ‘this little writing career that you’re doing? That s— is f— over,’” Tarantino told Koppelman, a writer who created and executive produces Showtime’s “Billions.”

“And when she said that to me in that sarcastic way, I was in my head, and I went, ‘OK, lady, when I become a successful writer, you will never see Penny One from my success. There will be no house for you. There’s no vacation for you. No Elvis Cadillac for mommy. You get nothing because you said that,’” he said, dissolving into laughter.

And he says he stuck to his word.

“I helped her out of a jam with the IRS, but no house,” the director said. “No Cadillac.”

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The moral of the story? “There are consequences for your words!” Tarantino trumpeted, sounding only half-serious. “As you deal with your children, remember, there are consequences for your sarcastic tone!”

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But Connie Zastoupil, Tarantino’s mom, had no desire to get drawn into the debate as her son’s words hit the news cycle. She said in a statement Wednesday to USA Today that she wouldn’t “participate in this salacious transactional media frenzy” where comments “spin and go viral without full context.”

Mom sounds as if she’s OK with how her son’s life has turned out, though, what with his reported nine-figure net worth and all, and his young son with wife Daniella Pick. (He has another new baby too: L.A.'s Vista Theatre, which he bought in July.)

“Regarding my son Quentin — I support him, I’m proud of him and love him and his growing new family,” Zastoupil said in her statement. “It gave me great joy to dance at his wedding and receive his news upon the birth of my Grandson Leo.”

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Even during the podcast, Tarantino, who has also spoken about his hostile relationship with his estranged father, acknowledged that he might be exaggerating how the situation went down with his mother.

“She just meant ... don’t do it when you’re in class, when you’re supposed to be doing something else,” the “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood” auteur had added, quickly and quietly, after relating his mom’s “sarcastic” quote. But where’s the drama in that, right?

When it came to school, Tarantino was similarly blunt about his youthful abilities.

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“I knew I was drastically more sophisticated than every other kid in my class, except for maybe one other kid. .... I knew I was more sophisticated than all of them,” he said. “I understood stuff beyond this playground b— ... however, I had a lot of circumstantial evidence that would point to the fact that I was stupid.”

Tarantino said he was reading way above grade level, and his imagination was going wild with the beginnings of how to tell a story, but there were all these things others could do that he simply couldn’t until years after he was supposed to: telling time, riding a bike, swimming.

Still, he wasn’t a complete mess.

“I could tie my shoes,” he told Koppelman. “I’m not an idiot.”


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