RZA

Tarantino’s Trainee

Words: Justin Monroe
Photo: Pamela Littky

The Tao of Tinseltown: RZA’s path from composer to director

1999

Filmmaker Jim Jarmusch hunts down RZA and asks him to compose the soundtrack for Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai. In a small cameo, RZA says a single line to the film’s star, Forest Whitaker: “Ghost dog, power, equality.”

2003

Composes soundtrack for Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill: Vol. 1 and asks Tarantino to be his directing mentor. Spends a month with Tarantino on the Kill Bill set in Beijing and takes copious notes.

RZA in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill: Vol. 1

© OliverK93 // YouTube

2003

Teams up with Jarmusch again for a bigger scene in Coffee and Cigarettes. Shares the screen with Bill Murray and fellow Wu-Tang member GZA while sipping herbal tea.

2004

Composes music for Blade: Trinity. Not yet ready to conduct an orchestra, he works with Ramin Djawadi, who goes on to compose for Batman Begins, Iron Man and Game of Thrones. The experience inspires RZA to learn to read music better and become a skilled conductor.

RZA asks Tarantino to be his directing mentor: With success!

2007

Plays a police detective who helps take down drug kingpin Frank Lucas, portrayed by Denzel Washington, in Ridley Scott’s biographical crime flick American Gangster. RZA shows off his acting skills—and his Wu tattoo—in scenes with Russell Crowe.

2012

Joins the cast of Showtime’s Californication as the volatile, charismatic rapper turned actor Samurai Apocalypse for Season 6. 

2012

With Tarantino’s blessing and Eli Roth’s screenwriting help, RZA writes, directs and stars in his first feature, the kung fu epic The Man with the Iron Fists, the start of a planned four-part series. Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu also star. 

2014

Menaces as a dangerous drug kingpin opposite Paul Walker in Brick Mansions, a remake of the 2004, parkour-filled French hit District 13. It is the last film Walker completes before his tragic death and is released posthumously.

With Eli Roth’s screenwriting help, RZA writes, directs and stars in his first feature, the kung fu epic The Man with the Iron Fists.

© IronFistsMovie // YouTube

2016

His second directorial effort, a New York–set musical titled Coco starring hip-hop artist Azealia Banks as the title character, premieres in March.

2016

Starts filming his third directorial project, the action thriller Breakout, set in Bangladesh.

Read more
03 2016 The Red Bulletin

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