Stunt woman recounts first meeting Quentin Tarantino in 1982, sparking friendship that lasted for years
On December 4th, Reservoir Dogs will return to theaters for one night only. Two nights later, Pulp Fiction will do the same.
Tail Slate sat down and discussed Reservoir Dogs with a woman who was in both films, albeit briefly. Linda Kaye is credited as “Shocked Woman” in that film and as “Shot Woman” in Pulp Fiction, but her relationship with Quentin Tarrantino started long before he became a film director.
Tail Slate: The legend is that much of the filming of Reservoir Dogs was done “guerilla” style on the streets of Hermosa Beach, without permits from the city. How much of that legend is true?
Linda Kaye: To my knowledge, this is not true. My scene was filmed in Eagle Rock at 5610 York Blvd and was totally above board. There were barricades, police and the streets were blocked off. I have no idea where the other scenes were filmed
Note: there is also a legend that her scene required Steve Buscemi to wait for the green light to drive off. This is also apparently not true.
TS: You first met QT when he was working at that video store. How did you two connect and how did you end up with the role in Reservoir Dogs?
LK: I first walked into Video Archives sometime in 1982. Quentin was working there alone and asked if he could help me. I told him I liked the movie Body Heat, and asked him if he could recommend something I might like. His reply was, “Thank God — for two reasons. Thank God #1, you like Body Heat and it’s fantastic to meet someone else who appreciates that film, because it was totally brilliant and Kathleen Turner is insanely sexy. And Thank God #2 that you didn’t come in here and say, “Hey, what’s good that I haven’t seen?” Like I know what the fuck you’ve seen? Do you like Woody Allen? Scorsese? Disney? How the fuck am I supposed to know what’s good that you haven’t seen? I mean, I don’t know what you’ve seen! Jesus Christ.”
I was smiling broadly at that point and took an immediate liking to him. He went on to recommend another couple of movies and we became fast friends. I stayed for several hours that night past closing time and just talked movies with Quentin. I was struck by his near encyclopedia knowledge of behind the scenes talent, not just big actors. We were talking about Kathleen Turner’s wardrobe in Body Heat and he said, “Oh yeah, that was because of Renie, also known as Renie Conley. She’s been working in film wardrobe since the late 1930s. She’s famous for a lot of gowns in the 40s and 50s. Can you believe she was 80 years old when she did Body Heat? The old broad’s still got it, you got to give her that.”
I just stood there with my jaw hanging open. I asked him, “How can you know so much about such an obscure person?” His reply was, “Obscure? Are you kidding me? She worked on over a hundred and something films! In the 50s and 60s, fucking Walt Disney hired her to create the costumes for the Can Can girls at the “Golden Horseshoe Review” in Frontierland. At fucking Disneyland!”
It was then that I realized just how deep the Quentin waters ran. When I asked him how he knew so many details about cast and crew on so many films, he held up a Movie Trivia book in one hand and a remote control in the other. “Well, there’s reading, and then to verify what you read about who did what, there’s the ‘pause’ button for the VCR, God’s greatest invention for movie trivia.”
It wasn’t long before Quentin brought me to his inner circle of friends who hung out regularly and saw movies together. It was a great chapter in my life. We, as a group, all aspired to something relating to Hollywood. I was an aspiring stunt woman and writer. To name only a few of us, Russell Vossler was a talented storyboard artist. Rand Vossler was a terrific Director of Photography. We made a vow that whomever of us “made it” first would take the rest along for the ride. To my knowledge, Quentin kept his promise and offered each one of us and opportunity to work in some capacity on Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, or both.
TS: Without doing any research, guess how many times the word “fuck” is said in Reservoir Dogs?
LK: I’m going to guess 167. That’s conservative. It’s also how some people really talk. Quentin told me once that he used to sit alone in restaurants in borderline neighborhoods just listening to people talk in order to develop his now (in)famous ear for realistic dialog.
Note: The actual number of times that word is said is 272.
TS: Does Mr. Pink actually survive?
LK: Sorry, I have no idea. As far as I’ve always known, I’m one of the only credited people who live!
Linda shared two other anecdotes with Tail Slate about her relationship with QT.
LK: Some time in the late 1980s, there was an earthquake. Quentin and I were close friends at the time. I called him right away to make sure he was okay. Years later, after his success, even though I hadn’t spoken to Quentin in ages and didn’t think he even had my number anymore, another earthquake hit. A few minutes later, the phone rang. It was Quentin asking me if I was okay. I laughed and asked him why he called. He said, “You called me after the last earthquake to make sure I was okay. I felt like I owed you one.”
Russ (Russell Vossler, a mutual friend of Linda Kaye and QT) called me one day out of the blue and said, “Quentin’s making a movie and wants you to be in it. He wants you to do a stunt, I think!” I laughed out loud and told Russ that I had gained 80 pounds after being in the the hospital and unable to walk with Guillain-Barre Syndrome for nearly a year in 1991 and I was in no shape to do a stunt. I said, “Russ, tell Quentin I’m fat, out of shape and not the hard body cutie he remembers. If he still wants me to do it, I will come out of retirement just for him!”
A few hours later, Russ called me back and said, “Quentin says that all good. He doesn’t want you all hot and sexy. You’d be a distraction from what’s happening in the scene. He says you’re fine the way you are.” I thought, “Holy shit. How about that?” So interestingly, my two best known films took place after my rather unremarkable stunt career when I weighed over 200 pounds. It worked out, though; it was great having that much cushion for falling on my ass a dozen times with Steve Buscemi.
If you want information on where Reservoir Dogs and/or Pulp Fiction will be showing near you, go to www.fathomevents.com