Kurt Russell Accidentally Destroys Antique 1870s Martin Guitar While Filming The Hateful Eight
I think Maddie and I may be the only two people at Echo Base that have yet to see this film, but from what I’ve read it sounds like it’s super violent. I’ve often wondered how hard it is for actors and actresses to turn on and off rage like that. Do accidents happen during scenes of destruction? Do actors and actresses ever go too far? And what would happen if a set crew member fails to switch out the props? Many of us are familiar with the story of Brandon Lee’s death on the set of the Crow, or The Twilight Zone Movie accident as examples.
SSN Insiders, an entertainment insiders organization, had a screening series event in late December where they screened Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, The Hateful Eight, in a theater on the CBS Raleigh Studio lot.
At the screening they had several of the crew for a Q/A session; including sound mixer, Mark Ulano, editor Fred Raskin, and make-up department head Heba Thorisdottir.
It would have been a normal screening Q/A like any other except Mark Ulano dropped an incredible story from the set about an 1870’s Martin guitar they had on loan from the Martin Museum:
“The guitar was a loner from the Martin Guitar Museum and there were six doubles made. The guitar was from the 1870’s and was priceless. What was supposed to happen was we were supposed to go up to that point, cut, and trade guitars and smash the double. Well, somehow that didn’t get communicated to Kurt, so when you see that happen on the frame, Jennifer’s reaction is genuine.”
Ulano spoke of the on-set reactions. “Kurt shattered the antique guitar and everyone was pretty freaked out. Tarantino was in a corner of the room with a funny curl on his lips, because he got something out of it with the performance.” Funny enough, the Martin Museum representatives only asked two questions after the incident. “‘Do you need another one and can we please have all the pieces to display in our museum?’”
My first reaction was, what the hell QT?! You had “a funny curl on [your] lips”!? History was just destroyed in front of your eyes, I don’t care if you did just get a raw and true look of horror from Jennifer Jason Leigh. Come on man.
Here’s video from the scene:
But I guess once the damage is done you have to just be happy with what you get and move on. And for their part, the Martin Museum representatives took it in stride so I guess it’s ok.
But then things got even more interesting. After the screening series interview was published, a few news outlets started to pick up the story and Martin got wind of what happened on set, and they were not amused at all. Dick Boak, director of the museum, archives and special projects for C.F. Martin & Co., told Reverb the following:
“We were informed that it was an accident on set,” Boak says. “We assumed that a scaffolding or something fell on it. We understand that things happen, but at the same time we can’t take this lightly. All this about the guitar being smashed being written into the script and that somebody just didn’t tell the actor, this is all new information to us. We didn’t know anything about the script or Kurt Russell not being told that it was a priceless, irreplaceable artifact from the Martin Museum.”
As a result of the incident, the company will no longer loan guitars to movies under any circumstances,” – Dick Boak, Director of the Martin Museum
Well, that totally sucks. So a priceless historical artifact was destroyed and it sure looks like the production company tried to hide what happened because let’s be honest here, this was a really dumb mistake. Everyone on the set should have been aware of what was happening in that scene, and for Russell not to know he was holding the original is ridiculous.
Let this be a lesson going forward, this is why we can’t have nice things.
“Upon inspection of the pieces, we realized that the guitar was beyond fixing,” Boak said. “It’s destroyed.”
“We want to make sure that people know that the incident was very distressing to us,” Boak says. “We can’t believe that it happened. I don’t think anything can really remedy this. We’ve been remunerated for the insurance value, but it’s not about the money. It’s about the preservation of American musical history and heritage.”