Kurt Russell Destroyed a Priceless Antique Martin Guitar on the Set of 'The Hateful Eight'

The Hateful Eight
Kurt Russell and Jennifer Jason Leigh mimic the expression on the face of Martin Guitar Museum director Dick Boak when he found out a priceless Civil War–era Martin had been destroyed during the production of "The Hateful Eight." The Hateful Eight

In Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight, mustachioed bounty hunter John Ruth (Kurt Russell) is on his way to turn in his latest catch, Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), for a handsome reward. The pair, along with plenty of others, get snowed in at a desolate outpost, which is where the majority of the film takes place. To pass the time, Domergue plays the guitar, initially to Ruth's delight, but he ultimately grows tired of her tune and smashes the instrument against a pillar.

As it turns out, that wasn't a prop guitar. It was a nearly 150-year-old Martin on loan from a museum, and the museum is pissed.

"We were informed that it was an accident on set," Martin Guitar Museum director Dick Boak told Reverb. "We assumed that a scaffolding or something fell on it. We understand that things happen, but at the same time we can't take this lightly. 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. 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."

During an SSN Screening Series panel, sound mixer Mark Ulano explained:

The guitar was a loner from the Martin Guitar Museum and there were six doubles made. The guitar was from the 1870s and was priceless. What was supposed to happen was we were supposed to go up to that point, cut, and trade guitars and smash the double. Well, somehow that didn't get communicated to Kurt, so when you see that happen on the frame, Jennifer's reaction is genuine.

It was a mistake, obviously, but knowing Tarantino, there had to be a small part of him that was glad it elicited such a real reaction on camera. Sure enough, there was. "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," Ulano said. At least they didn't need another take.

Hopefully, it was worth it for Tarantino, because his days of using Martin guitars in his films are over. "As a result of the incident, the company will no longer loan guitars to movies under any circumstances," said Boak.