Like actors, prized musical instruments have stand-ins when they appear in movies—cheap models that can serve as substitutes in scenes where damage is inflicted upon them.
For that to happen correctly, everyone on the set needs to be aware of what’s a prop and what’s not.
Apparently, Kurt Russell didn’t get the memo about the historic Martin guitar that makes an appearance in Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, The Hateful Eight. In the scene, the character Daisy Domergue, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, is singing and playing the instrument when John Ruth, Russell’s character, decides he’s heard enough. “Music time’s over,” he yells before grabbing the guitar from her and smashing it to pieces against a large wooden support.
The Martin, a model from the 1870s, was on loan from the company’s museum and, according to Mark Ulano, the film’s Academy Award–winning sound mixer, “was priceless.” Six doubles were created as stand-ins for the scene.
“We were supposed to go up to that point, cut and trade guitars and smash the double,” Ulano explains to SSNInsider.com. “Well, somehow that didn’t get communicated to Kurt, so when you see that happen on the frame, Jennifer’s reaction is genuine.”
“Kurt shattered the antique guitar and everyone was pretty freaked out. Tarantino was in a corner of the room with a funny curl on his lips, because he got something out of it with the performance.”
Reportedly, Martin Museum reps took it in stride. According to Ulano, they asked, “Do you need another one and can we please have all the pieces to display in our museum?” [Update: Martin is not commenting on the report.]
The Hateful Eight is set in America sometime after the U.S. Civil War. The decision to use a period-correct guitar for the film is admirable. But as Reverb.com notes, the song Leigh is playing—the traditional Australian folk ballad “Jim Jones at Botany Bay”—was published in 1907.
Take a look.