The makers of Quentin Tarantino’s TheHateful Eight never told Martin Guitars how a historic acoustic guitar on loan from its museum came to be destroyed on the set of the 2015 film.
Dick Boak of C.F. Martin said the company did not learn that the instrument was smashed by actor Kurt Russell until the incident was reported on Tuesday by Reverb.com, an online marketplace for gear. That story was itself based on an interview with the film’s sound mixer, Mark Ulano, that ran on SSNInsider.com.
Boak, director of the museum, archives and special projects for C.F. Martin & Co, said the company was initially told the guitar had been damaged in an accident on the set. “We assumed that a scaffolding or something fell on it,” Boak told Reverb.com, in response to its story.
The film’s script included a scene, shown below, in which Jennifer Jason Leigh’s character, Daisy Domergue, plays the Martin guitar before Russell’s character, John Ruth, smashes it against a beam. A prop guitar was supposed to have been substituted at the last moment. According to Ulano, Russell was not told of the swap and proceeded to destroy the Martin, an act that is retained in the film’s release.
“All this about the guitar being smashed being written into the script and that somebody just didn’t tell the actor, this is all new information to us,” Boak said. “We didn’t know anything about the script or Kurt Russell not being told that it was a priceless, irreplaceable artifact from the Martin Museum.”
In his interview, Ulano suggested that Martin initially took the guitar’s destruction in stride. According to SSNInsider, upon learning that a mishap had occurred, Martin reps asked, “Do you need another one and can we please have all the pieces to display in our museum?”
While the pieces were returned to Martin for examination, Boak said restoration is impossible. What’s more, the guitar was insured for its purchase price, not its value as a historic museum artifact, although Boak says it is ultimately the preservation of history that is important, not the money.
“We want to make sure that people know that the incident was very distressing to us,” Boak says. “We can’t believe that it happened.”
As a result of the incident, Boak said Martin will no longer loan guitars to movies “under any circumstances.”