Three of the most successful modern entertainers have highly different opinions on when a great artist should call it quits.
- In a recent interview for the ReelBlend podcast, Dark Knight, Inception, and Oppenheimer film director Christopher Nolan discussed his ideas on retirement and if he plans to quit filmmaking.
- Nolan says he does not think he will voluntarily stop directing movies if he is able to—that it is a difficult but fun job that is hard to quit.
- Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill director Quentin Tarantino previously announced several years ago that he is planning to retire from filmmaking after he finishes his 10th film The Movie Critic, which is set to release next year.
- When asked if he thinks Tarantino will keep this promise, Nolan responded, “Do you believe him?”
- Famous singer and performer Dolly Parton recently made a similar announcement, mentioning in a Greatest Hits Radio interview that she has no retirement plans and wants to “drop dead in the middle of a song onstage.”
- Tarantino is 60 years old, while Nolan turns 53 years old on July 30. Dolly Parton is 77 years old.
Why It’s Important
The question of when to quit is always a difficult one to answer. Some people are eager to retire young and enjoy their twilight years, while others prefer to work until they die. Tarantino’s viewpoint is more rooted in film history than preference, noting that many great film directors saw the quality of their art decline with age, and he does not wish to repeat that mistake. He still has plans to continue writing screenplays, stageplays, operating the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles, and focusing on raising his two children.
However, age is no impediment to being a great artist. Goodfellas director Martin Scorsese is set to release his newest film Killers of the Flower Moon, just prior to his 81st birthday this year. Director Ridley Scott will be releasing his new historical epic, Napolean, prior to his 85th birthday this year. Director Paul Schrader released his new film The Master Gardener earlier this year at the age of 76. Mad Max director George Miller is currently working on his new action film Furiosa at the age of 78. Legendary actor and director Clint Eastwood is currently working on his final film at the age of 93.
“The truth is, I understand both points of view. It’s addictive to tell stories in cinema. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s very fun. It’s something you feel driven to do, and so it’s a little hard to imagine voluntarily stopping. But I also see … Quentin’s point has always been that—and he never, very graciously, he’s never specific about the films he’s talking about or whatever—but he’s looking at some of the work done by filmmakers in later years and feeling that if it can’t live up to the heyday, it would be better if it didn’t exist. And I think that’s a very purest point of view. It’s the point of view of a cinephile who prizes film history,” says Nolan.
“I always believe that if you’ve wanted your dreams to come true and you are lucky enough to have that happen, then you’ve got to be responsible because you gotta keep the dream alive. And every dream kind of spawns another dream. You can branch off of almost anything that happens and make a business of that as well. So it’s kind of like a tree with good roots—it’s got a lot of limbs, and it’s also got a lot of leaves. So, why not make the most of it? And I’m not one to sit around and do nothing,” says Parton.