Andrew Cooper
Keith Staskiewicz
December 11, 2015 AT 07:53 PM EST

Much like the actual universe, the Tarantino-verse is ever-exanding. Over the course of the eight films (by his count) he’s directed, Quentin Tarantino has traversed innumerable styles and genres, but in the end they’re all just patches of the same crazy-quilt. And if you look closely enough, you can even see some of the threads (Red Apple cigarettes, the Vega Brothers, Paula Schultz’s grave) that stitch them together.

According to Tarantino, his latest outing, The Hateful Eight, has an even more direct tie to his previous work. The director talked to EW about how his new film actually started as a spin-off paperback to Django Unchained, featuring its manumitted protagonist in a wintry setting. 

“It was this story, basically,” Tarantino says. “Actually, at the time it was called Django in White Hell.”

Tarantino wrote much of the novel while on a tour of film festivals, but realized one night its story had a fatal flaw. “I literally say to myself, ‘You know what’s wrong with this piece? Django.’ Django’s got to go,” he recalls. “This piece shouldn’t have a moral center. It shouldn’t have a hero.” 

Characters like John Ruth and Daisy Domergue (played by Kurt Russell and Jennifer Jason Leigh in the film) were already in the story. Tarantino eventually folded Django’s role into that of Samuel L. Jackson’s character Major Marquis Warren. 

The Hateful Eight comes out in theaters on Christmas Day.

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