In a story with more twists and turns than your typical Quentin Tarantino film, a strange interview between legendary film composer Ennio Morricone and Playboy Germany has engulfed all involved in a controversy that will take time to sort out. It all started with an interview that reportedly took place between Morricone and Playboy in which the 90-year-old maestro behind such classic film scores as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Once Upon a Time In the West appeared to take issue with his working relationship with Tarantino on 2012’s Django Unchained and 2016’s The Hateful Eight.
When asked about working on Django, for which Morricone only completed one original piece due to time constraints and Tarantino’s “chaotic” nature, the composer allegedly said, “He talks without thinking, he does everything at the last minute. He has no idea. He calls up out of the blue and wants a complete score in just a few days. That’s not possible. It makes me so mad. I’m not going to put up with this. And I told him so last time.” Even so, Morricone went on to work with Tarantino again on The Hateful Eight, but that experience further soured the 2007 Lifetime Achievement Oscar-winner on working with the director.
Dismissing Tarantino’s movies as “trash,” Morricone reportedly stated, “The man is a cretin. He only steals from others and puts stuff back together again. There’s nothing original about that. That doesn’t make him a director. He is nothing compared with the Hollywood greats, such as John Huston, Alfred Hitchcock or Billy Wilder. They had class. Tarantino simply recooks old dishes.”
As printed by Playboy, he also teed off on the Oscars, even though he won a Best Original Score Oscar for his work on Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight. “If I looked happy it was because I knew I would soon be getting away from that boring ceremony,” said Morricone. For good measure, he tacked on an insult for the United States, saying that he didn’t wish to return to a country with “self-inflated pomposities and embarrassments like the Oscars.”
All of this seems plausible, of course. Morricone is known for speaking his mind, and he’s not the only one to lob complaints of unprofessional behavior in Tarantino’s direction. Earlier this year, actress Uma Thurman opened up about an experience while filming Kill Bill that left her seriously injured following a dangerous, ill-advised stunt-gone-wrong. And Morricone’s accusations of Tarantino’s unoriginality certainly aren’t original, as many critics have noted that the director lifts ideas and gleans inspiration from his favorite films.
Yet today, Morricone denies that the interview ever took place. As reported by IndieWire, the famed composer is using the ‘fake news’ defense, which you can read below in its entirety:
“It has come to my attention that Playboy Germany has come out with an article in which I have called Tarantino a cretin and consider his films garbage. This is totally false. I have not given an interview to Playboy Germany and even more, I have never called Tarantino a cretin and certainly do not consider his films garbage. I have given a mandate to my lawyer in Italy to take civil and penal action.
I consider Tarantino a great director. I am very fond of my collaboration with him and the relationship we have developed during the time we have spent together. He is courageous and has an enormous personality. I credit Tarantino for being one of the people responsible for getting me an Oscar, which is for sure one of the greatest acknowledgments of my career, and I am forever grateful for the opportunity to compose music for his film.
In London, during a press conference in front of Tarantino, I clearly stated that I consider Quentin one of the greatest directors of this time.”
Interesting, no? One can only hope that Playboy Germany has receipts, if the interview indeed took place. It seems unthinkable that a publication would fabricate an interview of this nature, one which they knew would get loads of attention due to its disparaging content. Assuming a response from Playboy Germany is forthcoming, this story will be updated in the interest of capturing each plot twist in real-time. Stay tuned…
Update: Playboy Germany is standing by its reporting of the interview. Here is the company’s statement:
“We are surprised that composer Ennio Morricone denies giving an interview to German Playboy. In fact, the conversation took place on June 30, 2018, at his estate in Rome. The interview, about the concert organizer Semmel Concerts, which was also present at the interview, had been agreed to with German Playboy. We also cannot understand that parts of the published statements were apparently not found to have been accurate.”
Update 2: Now Playboy Germany claims that some of the “words spoken in the interview have, in part, been reproduced incorrectly.” Whether that means a few words were translated incorrectly (for example, ‘cretin’) or entire statements were falsified remains unclear. Here is the statement from German Playboy editor-in-chief Florian Boitin:
“Up to now, we have considered the freelancer who conducted the Ennio Morricone interview on our behalf to be a renowned print and radio journalist. In the past, we have had no reason to doubt his journalistic integrity and skills. Based on the information now at our disposal, we must unfortunately assume that the words spoken in the interview have, in part, been reproduced incorrectly. We would like to express our regret should Mr. Morricone have been portrayed in a false light. We are working to clarify this matter and are exploring legal measures.“
Update 3: Playboy Germany is now retracting the interview completely. It appears that freelance journalist Marcel Anders, who conducted the interview, inserted false statements. Morricone’s confusion in saying the interview never took place can be attributed to the fact that he thought the interview was primarily meant for Deutschlandfunk. Here is Playboy’s official statement below:
“To our dismay, we have now established that sections of the interview published by us do not accurately reflect the words spoken by Mr. Morricone. Mr. Anders has now addressed the accusations himself, and admits to making ‘terrible mistakes.’ In a letter made available to the editorial team, he apologizes to Mr. Morricone for his failure to adhere to the statements given when writing the interview for Playboy and for adding statements made at other times and in other media.
“Based on the information at our disposal, his actions have resulted in irresponsible inaccuracies at best and, at worst, in intentional deceit. Whatever the circumstances, these deliberate falsifications are an intolerable breach of journalistic ethics.”
German Playboy editor-in-chief Florian apologizes for “this farce of an interview,” and he says the magazine will file a criminal complaint against Anders for these alleged falsifications.