Quentin Tarantino Defends Once Upon A Time In Hollywood's Depiction Of Bruce Lee

"Bruce Lee was kind of an arrogant guy," the director insisted, following criticisms of the way the action star is portrayed in his new film.

Quentin Tarantino has defended the portrayal of Bruce Lee in his new film Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.

Set in Hollywood in the late 1960s, Tarantino’s new film depicts several figures from the entertainment industry at that time, including actor Steve McQueen, film director Roman Polanski and singer Mama Cass.

Among these is action star Bruce Lee, played in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood by Mike Moh, although some have suggested that the film’s depiction of Bruce Lee is not exactly favourable, as he comes across as extremely cocky and arrogant.

Mike Moh as Bruce Lee
Mike Moh as Bruce Lee
Sony Pictures

Among these critics is Bruce Lee’s daughter, Shannon, who told the LA Times: “The script treatment of my father as this arrogant, egotistical punching bag was really disheartening ― and, I feel, unnecessary.”

She also told Variety that her father was “continuously marginalised and treated like kind of a nuisance of a human being by white Hollywood” suggesting this is also “how he’s treated in the film”.

Responding to this criticism at a press conference in Moscow, the director said: “Bruce Lee was kind of an arrogant guy… the way he was talking, I didn’t just make a lot of that up. I heard him say things like that, to that effect.

“If people are saying, ‘Well he never said he could beat up Muhammad Ali,’ well yeah, he did. Not only did he say that, but his wife, Linda Lee, said that in her first biography I ever read. She absolutely said that.”

Quentin Tarantino
Quentin Tarantino
Epsilon via Getty Images

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood boasts an all-star cast led by Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio, while Margot Robbie stars as Sharon Tate, who was killed in 1969 by members of the “Manson Family”.

The film arrives in UK cinemas on Friday 16 August.


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