Tony Tarantino, father of embattled director Quentin Tarantino, joined Breitbart Executive Chairman and Breitbart News Daily host Stephen K. Bannon on Thursday to discuss his son’s recent participation in an anti-police rally in New York City that led to police unions nationwide pledging a boycott of his films. During a discussion about his son’s attraction to violence in his films, Tarantino recalls how a producer once said his son would have been a serial killer if he had not become a filmmaker.
On Wednesday night, Quentin Tarantino appeared on MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes” to address the controversy surrounding his statement at the rally, where he had told demonstrators: “When I see murders, I do not stand by… I have to call a murder a murder, and I have to call the murderers the murderers.”
The director told Hayes that police brutality in the United States is “ultimately what I feel is a problem of white supremacy in this country.”
Tony Tarantino discussed the controversy over the comments and the ensuing fallout in an exclusive interview with Breitbart News Daily. Full transcript follows below.
Tony Tarantino: Thanks for having me. I feel this is a very important subject. People everywhere really need to know and understand that police officers throughout the country, in every agency, these are not bad guys. These are guys that are front-line. You know, our streets are a battle zone. I just spoke the other day with a representative from the LAPD, and I’m told that 250 LAPD officers were killed in the line of duty. NYPD, every one of them. I just got off the phone a little while ago with Border Patrol, and listening to their situation and their losses. People need to understand that, yes, there are a few rogue cops, a few cops that have gone wrong, but these people need to be [considered] just like any other person.
Bannon: Tony, if your son had made a comment about specific actions of police brutality, or certain situations that particularly have come up over the last couple years, where police were eventually found culpable for not just violence, but ultimately for the death of civilians, you wouldn’t have had a problem with that. You have a problem with the blanket statement that police are murderers, is that correct?
TT: Exactly. And two, the situations that he did state, where a white cop shoots a black man and kills him and this white cop is being ripped, well, what they forgot to mention is, this black man was in the process of an armed robbery in a liquor store and shot the liquor store clerk, and the cop shot him to death. It’s not only that they’re coming out, but they’re not telling the whole story, you’re not given the reason why the shooting took place.
Bannon: I’m not saying Quentin is a believer or a part of this part of RiseUp, but there are a number of individuals that are associated with the movement — this kind of radical movement — that view the police not as benevolently as you do or other citizens would, but they look at the police as essentially an occupying army to enforce white privilege onto oppressed populations. So they see this thing, whether you agree or disagree, they see it through a very different prism, And in that prism, they say that that occupation force has murderers in it and basically commits acts of murder on an unchecked basis. Do you agree with that?
TT: No, I don’t. And not only that, but on the news not too long ago there was an officer here in California that did murder somebody. That individual escaped into Mexico. Our department got him extradited, brought him back, he’s now in jail, and he’s now awaiting trial for murder. Those things do happen. But the police departments go after their own even harder than they would somebody else because of that fact.
Bannon: I take it there’s a number of members of your extended family who are police officers, who have either been wounded or killed in the line of duty?
TT: They’re my first cousins, two on my father’s side. And they were fortunate; they served a full career and retired. One was a horseback cop in New York City, and then the other became a lieutenant detective in the 9th precinct; they made it through service without wounds. Then I have two cousins on my mother’s side of the family. One was called in for the Columbia University riots in 1968. Those officers, ten of them, went into that. They were ordered to leave their batons, their weapons, everything locked in the car, they couldn’t go in there armed. And then they were attacked by, what, 1,500 rioters. My cousin had his back broken in three different places; he’s a paraplegic today.
And then another first cousin, Daniel Greer, killed on duty in New York. And their kids were of my generation. I grew up with these people; I saw the pain they went through. It is so different than a broken family through a divorce, than what it is with young kids who lose their father because he was shot to death or killed on duty, and they never get over it. They never get to understand it. They never get visitation.
Bannon: I understand you’ve been estranged from your son Quentin. Does he have any understanding of the family’s history? Any understanding of the broader DNA of himself, of how imbued that is with law enforcement and with the protecting of community through being a police officer?
TT: I’d have to say he doesn’t. Like you said, we’re estranged; he’s had no interest in knowing my side of the family. So he’s probably aware of it now through all the media and all that has come out about it, but up to this point I would say no.
Bannon: I want to go back to one point for a second. You haven’t really been criticizing your son; you’ve been criticizing what he’s been saying. Do you believe that when everybody anticipated he might have an apology, but yet he really kind of doubled and tripled down, and it looks like he’s going take a full-scale media campaign, he’s called either people speaking out, like yourself, or websites like Breitbart, “mouthpieces” for the cops — do you anticipate that he’s going to back off of this action, now that he’s doubled down, do you see him taking this all the way to the bitter end?
Bannon: Given the volatile nature of what’s going on in the United States today, given the volatile nature of what you’ve seen in working on your film Prism down there with the Border Patrol, which we cover day-in and day-out at Breitbart Texas on the Rio Grande — given this very volatile situation, do you anticipate that this type of action may actually precipitate additional acts of violence against police officers? I think one of the reasons the NYPD is so upset about this, is there was a police officer killed in the line of duty, Randolph Holder, was gunned down
TT: Four days before Quentin came on and said what he said.
Bannon: What do you think about that timing?
TT: I think that he probably wasn’t even aware of it. He gets hot, he’s very passionate. He latches on to something and just goes after it. He’s very, very liberal and he’s very pro-the ethnic thing, and he feels that people of color are really being persecuted against by the police. I disagree with that. In my opinion, and I say it out loud, we’ve had enough of this racial crap going on throughout this country for a long time. In my opinion, there’s only room for one race in this great country of ours, and that’s the human race. Stop labelling everybody, stop separating. It’s something I learned in the Marine Corps. You divide and conquer, and that’s what the political system is doing today, breaking everybody up into groups, that way they get to control the groups, control the votes, and stay in power. I’d like to see us with politicians, with a president that cares more about the country and our way of life according to our Constitution than what they do about their political agenda or their own political careers.
I could care less about Democrat or Republican. I was born in New York, raised in an Italian Democratic family, and I understand the Democratic side. I didn’t go Republican until I was in college and became of legal age to vote. Today I don’t vote for either one or the other, I vote for who I think is going to be best for that particular job. Turns out that lately I’ve been voting for who I consider to be the lesser of two evils.
Bannon: So you’re not tied to any ideology, you vote for the best man or woman, who’s not part of the permanent political class and can actually make some changes that are beneficial to everybody.
TT: Exactly. I consider myself, more than anything else, a Constitutionalist. You know, we’ve got a great document, as far as I’m concerned, the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights is the second greatest document ever printed on this planet.
Bannon: About that document, particularly in the Second Amendment — I know you’re a creative artist, a director, a producer, your son, people would say, if not the greatest, then one of the handful of greatest directors of his generation — the irony is that many of his films are not just violent, it’s a stylized violence, and particularly gun violence, as almost an element or character in the film itself. You can see he has a creative vision of what violence is and how violence hits certain emotional buttons in an audience. Address that as a creative artist, Quentin’s use of violence. It’s not prosaic; it’s actually highly stylized. That is an element of his films, that he would be [both] anti-gun and anti-cop.
TT: Exactly. It’s really funny, a friend of his many years ago, [Reservoir Dogs producer] Lawrence Bender, made a public statement that if Quentin didn’t make it as a successful writer or director in the film industry, he would have been a serial killer. And I found that kind of funny.
Bannon: If you had a chance to visit with your son, if you had a chance to sit down with Quentin and talk to him about the family’s involvement not just with the military but with law enforcement, and all the good that it’s done the family and all the good that the family’s done for the community, by being police officers, by being part of the “thin blue line” between chaos and anarchy in a community, what would you tell him?
TT: I would love that opportunity. For years, I’ve always tried to make contact with him on a personal level. He made a public statement once saying that he grew up being told that his father was an out-of-work actor and a no-good bum musician. When I heard that, I laughed about it and said, ‘Well, yes, I’m an out-of-work actor, but isn’t Tom Cruise or Tom Hanks and every other major star that isn’t working on a film an out-of-work actor?’ So I don’t take offense to that. Call me a bum, you’ve got that right, some people might think that, I don’t take offense to that. But call me a no-good musician, I take offense to that, I’m a damn good musician (laughs). That’s me in my joking sort of way.
But the truth is, he’s never given me the opportunity to sit down with him and tell him my side of the story. The only thing he has is what he’s got from his mother and the relationship between her and I is very, let’s say, uncomfortable. So I never had the chance. He’s my son. I know him or don’t know him, it doesn’t matter, he’s my blood, my DNA runs through his veins. I would love to be close to him; it’s too late to be a father, but I’d give anything to be a friend. And let him hear the Tarantino story, what the family is all about.
Check out audio of the Breitbart News Daily interview with Tony Tarantino above.