“I give a s**t about the guitar”: Kurt Russell still feels bad about accidentally destroying a priceless Martin

Russell destroyed a genuine Martin instead of a replica by accident on the set of Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight.

Kurt Russell

Credit: Elyse Jankowski/Variety via Getty Images

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Kurt Russell has admitted he still feels guilty for accidentally smashing one of the oldest Martin guitars in existence during filming for The Hateful Eight. 

In the 2015 Quentin Tarantino film, Russell plays John “The Hangman” Ruth, who’s gets stranded in a tavern full of dangerous people while he’s on his way to bring Jennifer Jason Leigh’s outlaw “Crazy” Daisy Domergue to the authorities. It features a scene where Leigh plays an Australian folk ballad, Jim Jones at Botany Bay, on an acoustic guitar, which irks Russell’s character and leads to him taking the guitar and smashing it.

Unbeknownst to Russell, the guitar was a priceless Martin antique dating back to the 1870s which was on loan from the guitar company’s museum. According to an interview with sound mixer Mark Ulano in SSN Insider, six replicas of the guitar had been made for Russell to smash and the original was meant to be used up until the moment of the smash, after which they would cut. “Somehow that didn’t get communicated to Kurt, so when you see that happen on the frame, Jennifer’s reaction is genuine,” he said.

A rep for the Martin Guitar Museum told Reverb that the incident was “very distressing” and the company is no longer loaning guitars to movies “under any circumstances” as a result.


Setting the record straight. #kurtrussell #hatefuleight #quentintarantino

♬ original sound – Esquire

Now, Russell has recalled the incident in a video interview with Esquire, revealing he’s still upset and angry about it as he didn’t know it was the real guitar he had smashed.

“I love how these stories evolve. Jennifer had a number of guitars to work on this song that she was going to sing. The one particular guitar that she liked, I guess, was this Martin,” he says. “Nobody ever said that it was 145 years old at the time. It was a Martin, and I remember somebody at the thing saying, ‘I think it’s worth about $15,000.’ I said, ‘Oh, that’s cool.’”

He continues: “Then comes the day to shoot it. I knew that she’d been working on this one guitar, and because I’ve done a thousand shows, I couldn’t even imagine that they were going to be using the one guitar that she was going to be playing, not that it was a priceless Martin guitar. Because it wasn’t. Nobody said that. Nobody made that claim.

“But when we did the take, you can even see it. I kind of give it an extra beat, and nothing. I go ahead and smash the guitar. I can tell – when I grab her and sit her down, I can tell she’s not happy about this. It’s like: Something’s wrong. So as soon as it’s over, I say, ‘Tell me that’s not the guitar you’ve been practicing with,’ and she [nods].

“I only felt bad about that. I give a shit about the guitar. Suddenly now, within a week, the guitar’s worth $25,000. At the end of the show, it’s worth $45,000. And I promise you, in ten years, it’ll be older than Martin existed. I just love how these urban legends grow, so far for me… I knew it was 145 years old! I know it’s actually more than that! It’s 182 years old, and it’s worth $700 million!”

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