Quentin Tarantino visited the set of Gremlins to interview director Joe Dante. However, he was not allowed to see what the gremlins looked like. Back before Tarantino became one of the biggest directors in Hollywood, he was trying to write a book about directors. "I thought I would start on the interviews and then write the pieces. The book was called Cinema of the Outrageous," says Tarantino. He never finished the book, but he was able to get a few of the interviews done for the project.
One of the directors young Quentin Tarantino was able to interview was Joe Dante, who was making Gremlins at the time. The horror comedy was a bit of a curveball for the '80s, but it ended up becoming a box office success and it's considered to be an 80s classic. With that being said, they were still trying to keep the look of the gremlins a secret when Tarantino visited the set, so he wasn't able to see them. He explains.
"I interviewed him on the set of Gremlins. They had me behind a partition because I wasn't supposed to see what a gremlin looked like. I had all this access to him because a gremlin's head fell off and it took them a while to fix the gremlin head. And so I'm sitting there talking to him, and then they fixed it, but they see I'm talking so they just let us talk for a while."
"I'm literally just this guy visiting the set, and they could have been shooting at least 20 minutes earlier, but they're just letting him talk. At some point he goes, 'Alright, you know what? I'm going to wrap this up. I kind of see that they're done, they're kind of waiting for me to come, but they don't want to say anything.'"
The Gremlins production team was running a tight ship, which makes sense since Steven Spielberg's Amblin was in charge. But they could have at least given a young Quentin Tarantino a peek at one of the gremlins. There were no smartphones and the internet wasn't around at the time, so the worst he could have done was make a crude drawing to show off to friends and family.
Quentin Tarantino almost got to visit another famous movie set. "There was talk about me being on the set of Scarface," he said. "Watching [De Palma] work for a little bit and then doing an interview with him. It never happened." That would have been a pretty big deal for Tarantino, especially since De Palma is one of his cinematic heroes, but it didn't end up happening for one reason or another.
Quentin Tarantino ended up scrapping his book because he says he was too young and "flaky." In the end, it worked out pretty well for him. A few short years after visiting the set of Gremlins and chatting with Joe Dante, Tarantino was behind the camera and kicking off a new way of making and writing movies in the 1990s. It's still a shame that he wasn't able to see a gremlin on his set visit though. The interview with Quentin Tarantino was originally conducted by the Pure Cinema Podcast.