Asked about Bruce Lee’s depiction in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” Quentin Tarantino expressed hesitancy to even address the topic before diving in. “Where I’m coming from is, I can understand (Lee’s) daughter having a problem with it. It’s her f***ing father,” he acknowledged. “But,” he continued, “anybody else, go suck a d***.”
Tarantino went on to try and assuage frustrations stemming from Brad Pitt’s character Cliff’s ability to one-hit the martial arts legend, saying “it’s obvious Cliff tricked him. That’s how he was able to do it … it’s explained more in the book.”
The book that Tarantino is referring to is his novelization of the film, the release of which coincided with his Joe Rogan interview. There, he states that the details of Cliff’s life are filled in, painting him as a World War II resistance fighter and trained hand-to-hand killer who duped Lee into losing. Interestingly, Tarantino also brings up Lee’s reputation with stuntmen of the era, specifically alluding to a famous incident in which Gene LeBell and Bruce Lee disagreed about whether LeBelle should stop carrying Lee around on his shoulders.