The 15 Best Small Roles in Quentin Tarantino Movies
8. Hugo Stiglitz in Inglourious Basterds (2009) – Til Schweiger
A turncoat Nazi Officer, the infamous Hugo Stiglitz, now a collaborating member of the titular Basterds is formidably known amongst the ranks of the Third Reich following his deceitful betrayal, having deserted his post and garishly executing a considerable number of high ranking SS Generals in their sleep, using, in true blood-soaked Tarantino fashion, a number of colourful and ghastly killing techniques.
Not the loquacious type, the often silent and temperamental Hugo Stiglitz has an overwhelming penchant for spilling SS blood despite his initial involvement, and his bubbling abhorrence for the Nazi party can be felt simmering throughout the entire piece, assisted by his effortlessly cool guitar-riff theme tune and lurid smile when he momentarily considers the pure satisfaction of murdering more of the immorally wrong German outfit.
Portrayed by the German born actor Til Schweiger, who is arguably best known for his substantial involvement in the heavily disappointing cinematic adaption of the adored computer game shoot-em’ up series “Far Cry”, here is perfect for the minor part.
A strong and sullen entity, with cold, calculating eyes, he flawlessly instils morose hostility, grimace and repugnance to expertly craft a worthy henchman amongst the remarkable ranks of the Basterds – As memorably stated by a soon to be dead Nazi Officer during the Basterds’ introduction, “Everybody in the German army has heard of Hugo Stiglitz”.
Memorable Quote: “Say Auf Wiedersehen to your Nazi balls!”
7. Gogo Yubari in Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003) – Chiaki Kuriyama
Chiaki Kuriyama’s noteworthy role in “Kill Bill Vol.1” is a direct reference to the character which she plays in Japanese cult classic “Battle Royale”, which has since been stated to be one of director Quentin Tarantino’s favourite films.
Kuriyama’s equated roles in both pictures are commonly linked by the fact they have very little screen time but leave a substantial impact, both savagely murder a man by disembowelling them, as well as both participate in one ultra-violent fight sequence, and are both subsequently brutally murdered.
A young Asian girl wearing a school uniform, equipped with a sinister giggle and uniquely deadly spiked ball attached to a long chain to provide devastating effect, Gogo Yubari is a quintessential manga villain.
A lethal henchwoman for the targeted O-Ren-Ishii, she stands as a provocative enemy and necessary evil in the way of The Bride’s preliminary objective. She is propelled into action following the merciless dispatching of the entirety of the Crazy 88 gang, and when told to stand aside, Gogo lets off an intimidating schoolgirl laugh, clearly undaunted by the revenge-driven Kiddo’s threats, and further instructs The Bride to beg for her life.
What ensues is a mesmerising set piece, which sees the pair go spikey ball- chain whip to samurai sword, the confrontational Gogo proving to be one of the most formidable challengers to Uma Thurman’s Beatrix Kiddo throughout the entireness of “Kill Bill Vol.1”.
As outlined within the piece, what she lacks in age, she more than makes up for in madness. Her childlike gestures combined with her ruthless mentality and unique cartoonish appearance allows Chiaki Kuriyama a brief but highly memorable appearance.
Memorable Quote: “You call that begging? You can beg better than that.”
6. Winston Wolf in Pulp Fiction (1994) – Harvey Keitel
The embodiment of a smooth operator, “Pulp Fiction” fixer Winston Wolf is a coolheaded problem solver who it would appear possesses the impressive ability to bend time and space to his will, defying all scientific laws and achieving the impossible in minimal timeframes while remaining effortlessly composed and collected.
Portrayed by the enigmatic Harvey Keitel, cast again by Quentin Tarantino following his stellar performance as Mr White in “Reservoir Dogs”, The Wolf is brought in during the film’s final act to help John Travolta and Samuel L Jackson’s leads cover up the accidental murder of the highly ill-fated Marvin, who is now all over the back of the pair’s car.
The smartly dressed Keitel’s minor character, equipped with all the facts in his handy notebook, is always aware of his surroundings and unperturbed by a sticky situation, due to a highly advanced skillset and indispensable capabilities of un-screwing any scenario no matter how difficult it may first appear.
Unforgettable and captivating, Keitel’s character could be considered amongst Tarantino creation royalty, even if the actor has now disappointingly sold out, using the memorable character of The Wolf in a string of Direct Line Insurance adverts on UK television.
Memorable Quote: “Just because you are a character, it does not mean that you have character.”
5. Lt. Archie Hicox in Inglourious Basterds (2009) – Michael Fassbender
A darling of independent cinema back in 2009, following his pitch-perfect performances in the likes of “Eden Lake”, “Hunger” and “Fish Tank”, the emerging Michael Fassbender was still relatively unknown and not Tarantino’s first choice for the role of Lt. Archie Hicox.
Fassbender only later obtained the role following QT regular Tim Roth and eventually and more surprisingly Simon Pegg both dropping out of proceedings close to the production phase of “Inglourious Basterds”, due to their respective scheduling conflicts.
Michael Fassbender’s compelling performance is layered with ingenious irony due to his real life upbringing and current life scenario. As the actor was born in Germany to Irish and Germany parents before being raised in Ireland, he has no direct link to England.
Now residing in London the performer is fluent in German as his first language, and English as his second, whilst being a master of accents and dialects. Yet in “Inglourious Basterds” Fassbender portrays an undercover Englishman who can speak fluent German, but cannot hide his highly distinguished stereotypical English accent.
An English film critic drafted into the war during desperate times, the proud and intelligent Lt. Archie Hicox is involved in two scenes, the first of which with a curiously cast Mike Myers as an army general, as the pair discuss the Third Reich’s second in command Joseph Goebbels and his audacious attempt to combat the success of Jewish men in Hollywood with his own brand of Nazi-glorified cinema.
Whereas his second act proves to be his fatal undoing at the hands of a simple mistake due to a lack of German cultural knowledge and a precisely perceptive Gestapo Major.
Memorable Quote: “If you offered me a scotch and plain water. I could drink scotch and plain water.”
4. Captain Koons in Pulp Fiction (1994) – Christopher Walken
Only on screen for a total of four minutes of “Pulp Fiction”, the highly charismatic and mesmerising Christopher Walken plays Captain Koons, a fundamental plot device used to outline the value of Bruce Willis’ boxer Butch Coolidge’s inherited gold watch, and the exact reasoning as to why at a later point in the influential piece he will actively risk his life to bravely retrieve it from his home which is being stalked by Marcellus Wallace’s hit men.
One piece of dialogue, delivered flawlessly by the absorbing Walken, Captain Koons, a decorating Vietnam veteran and close friend of the deceased Coolidge senior is shown in a flashback sequence, as he tells an adolescent Butch the fascinating story of the gold watch he is about to receive and its bizarre travels during their time in a prisoner of war camp.
A tale that could have come off as over the top and crude is instead handled perfectly by an electric Walken who never fails to be compelling, filling the significant scene with enough compassion, depth, charm and magnetism to expertly sell its importance to the plot.
Memorable Quote: “I hid this uncomfortable piece of metal up my ass for two years. Then after seven years, I was sent home to my family. And now, little man, I give the watch to you.”
3. Officer Marvin Nash in Reservoir Dogs (1992) – Kirk Baltz
One of the most talked about scenes in cinematic history, every single person who has seen the pivotal “Reservoir Dogs” are unable to forget what the blameless and condemned Officer Marvin Nash has to traumatically endure at the hands of the villainous Mr Blonde.
Skilfully portrayed by Kirk Baltz, the actor impeccably accomplishes to fill the small part with profound depth, complexity and heart, making sure audiences deeply care about the unfortunate life of Marvin Nash despite having such a small amount of time on screen.
Impressively auditioning a total of four times for the part, Kirk Baltz was given a lot of free reign over the role once being gifted the opportunity, getting into character of the captive police officer by allowing Michael Madsen to unsympathetically drive around with him in the boot of his car callously hitting every pothole along the way to the filming location, as well as ad-libbing a substantial amount of the characters dialogue.
Most notably, the conversation about having children at home, unrehearsed riffed exchanges that nearly stopped the ironically anti-violence actor Madsen in his tracks during the torture sequences.
Tied up and severely beaten by Mr Blonde prior to having his ear gruesomely hacked off and ultimately drenched in gasoline before the carnage is stopped, all to the soundtrack of Stealers Wheel’s now infamous track “Stuck in the Middle with You”, Marvin Nash’s harrowing experience is devastatingly captured by Tarantino, with a hefty amount of praise to be given to the inspiring Kirk Baltz who soundly carries the scene with a considerable performance.
Memorable Quote: “This fucking guy slashes my face, and he cuts my fucking ear off! I’m fucking deformed!”
2. Major Dieter Hellstrom in Inglourious Basterds (2009) – August Diehl
Quentin Tarantino’s Nazis are perhaps his most menacing constructions to make it onto the screen, between Major Hellstrom, Christoph Waltz’s Hans Lander, Daniel Bruhl’s Fredrick Zoller, as well as cinematic depictions of real life villains, Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels, the bullying protagonists of “Inglourious Basterds” are a sinister mixture of slimy arrogance, unashamed hatred and viperous intimidation who remain unwavering in their harrowing determination to rid the world of the Jewish race.
In one of the magnificent pieces more intense and horrifically gory scenes, we see the highly perceptive and brash Dieter Hellstrom in a French tavern ‘La Louisiane’, confronted by members of the Basterds, including Fassbender’s Lt. Hicox, within the location, undercover as SS Officers.
In the excruciatingly heart-pounding scene, he proceeds to ramp up the escalating intensity with his zealous analytical demeanour, scrutinising and toying with the trespassing secret agents, initially appearing to accept the group’s story whilst remaining suspicious until he gets the answer he wants. His ability to construe a perfect poker face only adds to the scenes power, his unreadable appearance and incomprehension to what he is thinking makes him an incredibly complex and disturbing evil.
Hellstrom’s detective instincts are clinical and precise, a pale, bug-eyed villain that is apathetic and desolate, whilst being fully committed to the horrendous Nazi cause, regardless of the necessary sacrifices. Hellstrom frequently appears to be something of a counter-ego to the courteous Hans Landa, acting like a stereotype Nazi officer in foreigners’ perception, rudely mistreating the local community with no redeeming features.
As a member of the Gestapo, his backstory is unknown; Major Hellstrom is a seething monster, believably capable of the desolating German’s harrowing atrocities during the Second World War, flawlessly handled by the unknown German actor August Diehl.
Astute to his surroundings, his overwhelming intensity and pungent inquisitive nature suggests his capabilities for outbursts of devastating violence. A malevolent force to be reckoned with even in small doses.
Memorable Quote: “You’ve just given yourself away, Captain. You’re no more German than that scotch.”
1. Pumpkin and Honey Bunny in Pulp Fiction (1994) – Tim Roth & Amanda Plummer
The significant roles of the loved-up armed robbers Pumpkin and Honey Bunny, also known as Ringo and Yolanda, a pair of audacious petty criminals with endearing eyes for each other, were specifically written with Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer in mind.
The pair serves as the enforcing characters in the wrap around segment that features at the very beginning and end of Quentin Tarantino’s non-linear, disjointed masterpiece “Pulp Fiction”.
The film starts with a typically absorbing piece of Tarantino spun dialogue, explaining the relative safety of robbing banks rather than liquor stores, and subsequently moving on to the topic of less likely cash-rich places that may prove fruitful to hold up.
This in turn leads to the pair pulling out their guns in a coffee shop, telling the shocked witnesses and consequent hostages to be cool. The rest of the film accordingly complies with his request.
The opening sequence in “Pulp Fiction” has been championed since its initial release, with its flawless narrative and astonishing execution, faultlessly carried by the pair of actors.
Whilst Tim Roth’s calculated Ringo appears to be the calm and collected member of the adoring pair, dealing with the robbery in a composed and unruffled manner, it is Amanda Plummer who truly shines as the unhinged madcap Yolanda, delivering each and every line with an irrational psychotic trepidation, most notably her memorable final line of dialogue before Dick Dale’s surf rock anthem Misirlou kicks in.
Memorable Quote: “Any of you fucking pricks move and I’ll execute every motherfucking last one of you!”
Honourable Mentions: Mike Myers as General Ed Fenech in “Inglourious Basterds”, Randy Brooks as Holdaway in “Reservoir Dogs”, Eric Stoltz as Lance in “Pulp Fiction”, Don Johnson as Big Daddy in “Django Unchained”, Chia-Hui Liu as Pai Mei in “Kill Bill Vol.2”, Chris Tucker as Beaumont Livingston in “Jackie Brown”, Maria de Medeiros as Fabienne in “Pulp Fiction”, Bridget Fonda as Melanie Ralston in “Jackie Brown”, Rose McGowan as Pam in “Death Proof”, Peter Greene as Zed in “Pulp Fiction”, Dana Gourrier as Cora in “Django Unchained” and Zoe Bell as Six Horse Judy in “The Hateful Eight”.
Author Bio: Dan Carmody, born and raised in Doncaster, England. When not working as a Civil Engineer, his one true passion is cinema, relating back to the early 1990’s when his mum showed him a lot of horror films way before he should have been allowed. He is an avid follower of all film genres, most notably the work of Tarantino, Fincher and The Coens. Also enthusiastic about video games, travelling, making lists and cheese.
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