Why This Major Star Refused to Appear in Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Kill Bill’

Quentin Tarantino has worked with numerous famous actors, however, he couldn’t cast Kill Bill the way he initially intended. Tarantino wanted an iconic actor to play Bill, the film’s complex antagonist. This major Hollywood star refused — only to recommend someone else for the role.

A poster for kill Bill with Uma Thurman and other actors on it
A Kill Bill poster | Stephen Lovekin/FilmMagic

Why an actor who wants to work with Quentin Tarantino refused to appear in ‘Kill Bill’

Firstly, a little background. David Carradine was an actor most known for his role in the television series Kung Fu. After Kung Fu was canceled, he mostly appeared in B movies. However, he made a major mark on cinema by playing Bill in Kill Bill in the 2000s. He is perhaps more famous for playing Bill than any other role. However, The Playlist reports the role was initially intended for Warren Beatty.

“I believe it was my suggestion that David Carradine would be best for it,” Beatty said. “I didn’t want to leave my kids…He was shooting the movie in China, and I thought [Quentin was] going to be over there for a long time. And he said, no [it won’t be that long]. In fact, he was over there for exactly the time that I predicted. (laughs) I would love to work with Quentin.”

The theme from Kill Bill

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Quentin Tarantino revealed Bill was orginally like these two famous characters

According to IndieWire, Tarantino gave fans a bit of insight into his original intent for Bill. “It was really interesting reading Kill Bill again, that first draft because that’s the Warren Beatty version,” he said. “He’s much more of a James Bond type of character. Like James Bond as [Ernst Stavro] Blofeld, basically. That guy never got portrayed.” 

For those who aren’t familiar with the Bond franchise, Blofeld is the most notorious of Bond’s recurring enemies. He’s most infamous for murdering 007’s wife, Tracy Bond, on their wedding day in the movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service — similar to how Bill tried to murder The Bride on her wedding day. Like Bill, his face is initially hidden by camera angels and he strokes a white Persian cat.

A trailer for the second Kill Bill film

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Despite wanting him in the role, Tarantino had some reservations about casting Beatty as Bill. “I was a little worried that Warren Beatty might look faintly ridiculous in this,” he told The Playlist. Considering Beatty played everyone from real-life outlaw Clyde Barrow to comic strip hero Dick Tracy, he might have been able to pull off a different version of Bill.

How the world reacted to ‘Kill Bill’

So did audiences react well to the final version of Kill Bill where Carradine played Bill? According to Box Office Mojo, Kill Bill: Vol. 1 earned over $180 million at the box office. It did so without being part of an established franchise or having a major star in the cast. After all, Uma Thurman was most known for secondary roles in films like Dangerous LiaisonsPulp Fiction, and Batman & Robin prior to Kill Bill. In addition, Box Office Mojo says the second Kill Bill film grossed over $154 million. Beatty refused to appear in the film — but it still resonated without him.