In Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, Jennifer Jason Leigh’s character Daisy Domergue is shocked when Kurt Russell grabs a guitar out of her hands and smashes it to pieces. It turns out that Leigh’s horrified reaction to the destroyed instrument was at least partially genuine, as that guitar was an 1860s antique, and Russell had no idea that he was smashing a museum piece.
“I thought we were going to trade out the guitars,” Leigh told Billboard. “You’re never going to cut a scene until Quentin says cut. And Kurt thought it must be a dummy guitar. I don’t think Quentin knew that it was the [vintage instrument], either. The scene was going exactly the way he wanted it to go, and he wanted to play one scene in the movie in real time without a cut, in one long take. Kurt felt terrible; he had no idea. When he found out, his eyes literally welled up. It ended up being great for the scene, but very sad for the guitar, and for my guitar teacher, and for me.”
The guitar was an 1860s antique Martin, on loan from the Martin Museum in Pennsylvania, and according to the film’s sound designer, the crew was supposed to switch out the original for a replica before Russell smashed it.
“I was heartbroken about the guitar, because I was quite in love with it,” Leigh added. “I got to actually take it home with me, and I played it every day. It had the most beautiful, warm tone. I had asked how much it cost, and I was told $4,000, so I was kind of saving up my forced-call money, thinking, ‘At the end of this movie I’m gonna buy that baby… And it’s gonna be my memento that I give to myself.’ I got a few zeroes wrong — it was a $40,000 guitar, and it was also a museum piece, so I never would have been able to buy it… But Kurt knew how much I loved that guitar. Then Quentin gave me another Martin guitar from the 1880s as my wrap present, which was kind of extraordinary.”
Read the full interview with Leigh at Billboard.