What Was Jennifer Jason Leigh’s Audition Like For ‘The Hateful Eight’?

Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hateful Eight

Jennifer Jason Leigh went from teen movie royalty to critically acclaimed actress in movies like The Machinist and Road to Perdition. Now she’s starring alongside Kurt Russell and Samuel L. Jackson in Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, and she couldn’t be happier. At least that’s what she told Vulture in a recent interview.

“It’s such a fabulous role. The funny thing is, I picked up the script from [casting director] Victoria Thomas’s office and went home and read it — and it was missing the last chapter. Intentionally, because Quentin didn’t want anyone to know. A day or two later, I was to go to his house and audition. So I worked on all the moments and scenes that she had — not a lot of dialogue, but I worked on it, I read it over and over again. It’s such a great script: I just loved every second of reading it. Then I got there, and we talked for a while, and he handed me the last chapter and he said, ‘Take your time and read it. I’ll go out, and then I’ll come back, and we’ll read from that.’ I said, ‘Great!’

“I started reading it, and suddenly I was like, ‘Holy shit.’ Because that’s where Daisy, who has not said very much up until this point, cuts loose. I wanted the part so badly — I’ve wanted to be in a Tarantino movie forever — and needed to give it my all, but it was quite a task set before me, and I was nervous. I knew I just had to sort of throw myself into it. He came in, and usually, when you read for a director, you either read with a casting director or you read with a reader, and the director sits and watches you. Quentin doesn’t do that. He came in, and he sat beside me, and he opened the script, and we read off of one script, sitting side-by-side. What that does is it just takes 80 percent of your nerves away immediately because he’s not watching you — he’s participating in the reading with you.”

Adding more about how much Tarantino gets involved with the actors, “He’s in it with you. You feel the world slip away, and it’s just you and him, and it’s so easy to give your all because he’s giving his all. You don’t feel like you’re being judged or watched or under a microscope; you feel like you’re engaged with someone in this incredible writing. So it was so freeing and so much fun, and we worked for about an hour, and I just thought, Fuck, man, if that’s the closest I get, I just had such an amazingly brilliant afternoon. I had no idea if I got it or didn’t get it. I knew I was hoarse. And I was happy.”

The Hateful Eight opens in theaters Christmas Day.

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