Quentin Tarantino, under fire for participating in an anti-police rally in New York City last month, has long maintained that he spent eight days in a Los Angeles County jail as a young man, where he gathered dialogue that ultimately ended up in his hit movies. However, a newspaper’s investigation has found no record of Tarantino’s incarceration in an L.A. County jail at the time he would have been held there.
According to the New York Post, Tarantino has claimed for decades that he was held in an L.A. County jail, with the earliest example of the story dating as far back as 1992, when he said in an interview that he was jailed for unpaid traffic violations.
“If I had a brush with the law I think I’d wise up fast. I spent eight days in the county jail on traffic warrants once,” Tarantino told Paris Voice in 1992, the same year his first film Reservoir Dogs broke out at Sundance. “If you can’t make bail they lock you up. At first I thought, ‘Wow, I’m going to pick up some great dialogue in here.’ But then you realize what a waste of time it is. They treat you like an animal and nobody wants to be treated like an animal.”
In a 1997 appearance on The Tonight Show, Tarantino told Jay Leno he’d been to jail three times. And as recently as this month, Tarantino recounted a similar story in an appearance on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher.
“Back when I was in my 20s and broke, I was a little scared of the cops, alright?” the director told Maher. “And all the times I had warrants out on me for all the traffic stuff that I never took care of and everything… I’d have like $1,500 warrants on me and I make $10,000 a year, so I’d get stopped and then I’d have to do eight days in county jail cause I couldn’t pay for it, to get rid of it.”
An investigation by the New York Post has found no record of Tarantino in the Los Angeles County jail system.
“A check of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department jail records revealed no evidence that Mr. Tarantino was ever incarcerated in our jail system,” the Sheriff’s Office’s Capt. Christopher Reed told the paper.
Reed added that the director once paid an $871 fine in 2000 for driving without a license, “in lieu of an eight-day sentence imposed by the court.” That was apparently the closest Tarantino ever got to spending time behind L.A. County jail bars.
Tarantino provoked the outrage of police unions and associations nationwide when he spoke at an anti-police rally in New York City in October, held just days after NYPD officer Randolph Holder was fatally shot in the head while responding to a call.
“When I see murders, I do not stand by,” the director said. “I have to call a murder a murder, and I have to call the murderers the murderers.”
Tarantino’s comments caused widespread backlash and pledges to boycott his upcoming film, The Hateful Eight.