The outrage around the scene that showed the late martial arts legend fighting stuntman Cliff Booth played by Brad Pitt began to surface shortly after the release of the film in 2019. Bruce Lee’s daughter spoke up about the controversy noting that her father came across “as an arrogant asshole who was full of hot air,” while his widow called the portrayal a “caricature” that was made to “look stupid, and silly and made to be insultingly ‘Chinesey.’” Mike Moh, the actor that played Bruce Lee in Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, defended the scene noting Lee’s “arrogant” reputation in Hollywood during the time.
Asked about the controversy, Quentin Tarantino said, “Where I’m coming from is…I can understand his daughter having a problem with it, it’s her f*cking father! I get that. But anybody else? Go suck a d*ck. And the thing about it, though, is even if you just look at it, it’s obvious Cliff tricked him. That’s how he was able to do it, he tricked him.”
The writer-director went on to reveal that the scene was inspired by the well-documented feud between stuntman Gene LeBell’s and Bruce Lee on the set of The Green Hornet, along with Lee’s negative reputation amongst stuntmen in Hollywood. Also sharing the World War II background of his character Cliff Booth that informed how the fight in the scene went.
Catch the clip of Quentin Tarantino talking about his portrayal of Bruce Lee in Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood on the Joe Rogan Experience above.
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