Why Quentin Tarantino Won't Give You His Cell Number

The filmmaker makes his cast and crew surrender their phones before stepping onto his set, and it turns out his distaste for modern-day telephony goes even deeper.
Adobe Stock; Steve Granitz/WireImage

Trying to reach Quentin Tarantino? Try the landline.

When the team behind his latest, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, started doing interviews this awards season, it came to light that the auteur — whose latest for Sony is nominated for 10 Academy Awards including personal nods for writing and directing — does not allow cellphones on set. The filmmaker has a booth set up where cast and crew can check in their phones before entering his sets. “If you needed to make a phone call, you go out on the street and make a phone call,” actor Timothy Olyphant said on The Rich Eisen Show.

But it turns out the auteur actually is so anti-mobile phone that he doesn’t even own one himself. “His life is very uncluttered as a result,” Once Upon a Time producer David Heyman tells THR. "When he leaves set, he has an old-fashioned answering machine with a tape — It's very analog."

Producer Shannon McIntosh used the same word. “He's an analog guy and he likes it,” she explains. “If he wants to use the phone, he said he uses a landline. I think the creativity comes from being off the grid, not always being accessible and being present [in what he’s doing]."

She said that spills over to Tarantino’s set when they’re working. "What’s wonderful about our sets is when we're not all with our face in our phones, we're talking, we're communicating — whether it's business or personal —and there really is a better human-to-human connection."

To help facilitate that on set is "what we call Checkpoint Charlie," McIntosh says about their sets, a process they started on 2009’s Inglourious Basterds. But since 2012’s Django Unchained, they’ve employed the same man — Spencer Smith — who handles phone check-ins as well as other tasks. “If you have a break or something and need to go out and check messages or make a phone call, then it's there. When you have a huge crew it's a full-time job, and Spencer knows everyone's phones and he has their drawers and personal things, and if they are waiting for a phone call or something, sometimes they'll ask him to help,” she says. “He’s just a wonderful soul.” 

A version of this story first appeared in the Jan. 29 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.