Director, cinephile, and gaming violence expert Quentin Tarantino is known for the level of gore in his films and revenge fantasy films related to topics like misogyny (Kill Bill) ageism (Jackie Brown) and racism (Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained). The award-winning filmmaker also writes his films in a connected universe, similar to the style of science fiction writer Kurt Vonnegut. But there’s another motif that can be counted on in any Tarantino film, a comeback performance from an unjustly forgotten actor.
They call it the “Tarantino Bump,” and it refers to the career boost that comes from the attention a past or debuting actor receives after a role as Tarantino. Don Johnson’s career skyrocketed after his portrayal of Big Daddy in Django Unchainedand he’s far from the first actor, new or old, to get the Tarantino Bump.
ten Sonny Chiba
The 1970s were the dawn of Kung Fu movies. Following President Nixon’s opening of relations with China, a wave of martial arts films made their way to American theaters. With them grew a series of martial arts stars, such as the American Chuck Norris, the great Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and a name that has been forgotten by many, except Tarantino. Sonny Chiba was an action movie star similar to Lee or Chan in movies like Shogun Samurai And THE street fighter (no, not the awful movie about the video game). Chiba returned to relevance thanks to his small but vital role as Hattori Hanzo in Kill Bill Volume 1. Chiba died in 2021 from the coronavirus.
9 Mike Myers
It might be a bit of a stretch to say that Tarantino “saved” Myers’ career, but there’s an argument to be made that the Tarantino Bump saved Myers from losing his entire career. In 2008, Myers doomed himself to obscurity for years thanks to his film Awful The love guru. Luckily, Tarantino knew Myers still had a masterful knack for impersonations and a gut-wrenching British accent, which is why he was cast as General Ed Fenech in Inglourious Basterds in 2009. Myers is nearly unrecognizable in the role with his wig, mustache and heavy makeup, but he’s proven himself to be more than just a crude comedian.
8 Michael Madsen
As ScreenRant put it, “Whenever Madsen looks like he’s about to slip into obscurity, it seems like Tarantino has a place for him.” So true. Madsen exploded into film thanks to his demented portrayal of sadistic criminal Vick Vega, aka “Mr. Blonde,” in Tarantino’s groundbreaking film reservoir dogs. He’s been with Tarantino ever since. Kill Bill, The Hateful Eight, And Once upon a time in Hollywood. It’s hard to believe that without his Tarantino roles, Madsen would have been considered for his equally stellar performances in Thelma and Louise, Donnie Brasco, Or City of Sin.
7 Samuel L. Jackson
Jackson was already a working actor by the time he landed the role of Jules in pulp Fiction, a film widely considered Tarantino’s magnum opus. Before the award-winning film, Jackson had small roles in Steven Spielberg Jurassic Park, Eddie Murphy’s comedy Coming to AmericaSpike Lee’s do the right thing, and several other Spike Lee seals. On average, Jackson has made 4-5 movies a year since 1990.
6 Tim Roth
Roth had a strong career in the UK before Tarantino found him, but this would be a Tarantino movie that showcased Roth’s talents in the US. Before reservoir dogsRoth had been in movies like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead with Gary Oldman and the controversial The cook, the thief, his wife and her lover. After reservoir dogsRoth has since done 4 more Tarantino projects, an award-winning performance in Rob Roya crime drama titled Lie to me, and joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
5 David Carradine
Carradine was rising high as the star of the hit TV series Kung Fu, but fame is fickle, and he struggled to find work and stay relevant for several years after the series ended. After a handful of bad movies like Wizards of the Lost Realm II, future strength and its sequel Future area, Carradine seemed aloof from Hollywood. That changed thanks to Tarantino casting him as the villainous Bill in his Kill Bill movies.
The role was an obvious homage to Carradine’s martial arts work, and the stellar portrayal of an oddly sympathetic attempted murder secured him a restored career. Unfortunately, this new career was cut short when Carradine died in 2009 of auto-erotic asphyxia. Carradine was of Hollywood heritage, he was the son of actor John Carradine, a hard working character actor who made classics like Grapes of Wrath and movies that bombed like The Supernatural.
4 Don Johnson
As mentioned in the introduction, Don Johnson got a much-noted career boost from his portrayal of pimp and slaver Big Daddy in Tarantino. Django Unchained. Johnson was once a popular TV star, winning Golden Globes for shows like miami vice and playing the lead character in the crime drama Nash Bridges across from Cheech Marin. He got many high profile gigs after the show ended, but after Djangohe was cast in movies like Knives out and shows like HBO’s watchmen.
3 Christopher Waltz
Waltz was already a popular actor in his native Germany and Austria. Tarantino introduced the waltz to American audiences in Inglourious Basterds followed by Django Unchained. His villainous portrayal of SS Colonel Hans Landa won him an Academy Award. A prize for your first great American film? Yeah, that’s the Tarantino Bump for you.
2 Pam Grier
Grier was one of the first black female action stars and movies like crafty brown And Saba, baby. Although these black female leads were pioneering, they did not lead to consistent work following the decline of “blacksploitation” films. Tarantino, always one to cast his returning stars in tongue-in-cheek roles paying homage to their earlier work, cast Grier in the lead role in his 1996 project. Jackie Brown. Grier was nominated for several awards for the film and returned to relevance. She eventually made it to TV and starred as Kit Porter on Showtime’s hit series. The word I.
1 John Travolta
The most famous of Tarantino Bump’s successes is that of John Travolta. Travolta was a teen idol in the 70s thanks to Welcome back Kotter, Saturday night fever, And The boy in the plastic bubble. But the fickleness of fame struck again, and Travolta struggled to stay relevant throughout the 1980s. He proved he was still a capable actor, and indeed a dancer, in his role in pulp Fiction in 1994, and thus his career was saved. He went to movies like Front/Off, Hairspray, Get Shorty, And Swordfish.