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For the last twenty-five years, Quentin Tarantino has succeeded in resurrecting the careers of former A-list stars and acclaimed character actors. During the 1990s, as he was an emerging filmmaking in the new American independent scene, the young film fanatic was single-handedly responsible for bringing the likes of Harvey Keitel, Pam Grier and John Travolta back from obscurity, while in more recent years he has offered second chances to such screen icons as Kurt Russell and David Carradine.
His latest project, a brutal western called The Hateful Eight, once again boasts an eclectic assembly of former stars and up-and-coming talent, while also featuring regulars Samuel L. Jackson and Michael Madsen.
One of the most talked-about additions to the cast is Jennifer Jason Leigh, who first emerged in the 1980s in such cult classics as Fast Times at Ridgemont High and The Hitcher, before taking on darker roles in the likes of Last Exit to Brooklyn and Single White Female.
Throughout her thirty-five-year career Leigh, the daughter of late actor Vic Morrow, has worked with some of the most respected filmmakers in Hollywood, from David Cronenberg to the Coen Brothers. In recent years, however, Leigh has been reduced to supporting roles, but it is her performance as Daisy Domergue in Tarantino’s latest thriller that has earned the actress a host of awards and acclaim.Leigh’s involvement in The Hateful Eight was first announced in October 2014, following in Tarantino’s tradition of featuring strong and independent female characters in his movies, from Mia Wallace and the Bride (both played by Uma Thurman), to Grier’s blaxploitation homage Jackie Brown.
‘Daisy is feral and dangerous, and crazy like a fox. She has nothing to lose; she’ll do anything to survive,’ explains Leigh in a recent interview with the New York Times. Daisy, a fugitive being transported by Russell’s bounty hunter to her execution, promises to be one of Leigh’s most exciting and complex performances in years.
Despite the brutality levelled at her character, an aspect that has resulted in accusations of misogyny being thrown at the movie, Leigh was impressed by the strength of Daisy. ‘Any woman, or any man, that takes it and says, ‘That’s the best you got?’ And that is a great thing for an actor to be able to play without dialogue,’ she adds.