Kurt Russell Is Still Pretty Sensitive About Accidentally Destroying A Priceless Martin Guitar In The Hateful Eight

Features News Popular

Kurt Russell Is Still Pretty Sensitive About Accidentally Destroying A Priceless Martin Guitar In The Hateful Eight


Kurt Russell has been a movie star for longer than most of us have been alive. He’s a beloved pillar of the Hollywood establishment, and he’s got more than a few classics on his resume. (The Thing? Come on.) But a long public life comes with its share of regrets, and some of those regrets will stick with a person. For example: Kurt Russell once accidentally smashed one of the oldest Martin guitars in existence, and he’s still not over it.

The fateful incident happened when Kurt Russell was filming the 2015 Quentin Tarantino film The Hateful Eight. Russell plays John “The Hangman” Ruth who’s bringing Jennifer Jason Leigh’s outlaw “Crazy” Daisy Domergue to the authorities when they’re both stranded in a tavern full of dangerous people. In the movie, there’s a scene where Leigh plays the Australian folk ballad “Jim Jones Of Botany Bay” on acoustic guitar. Russell tells her that music time is over, and he grabs the guitar and smashes it. In that moment, Russell didn’t realize that the guitar in question was a priceless Martin antique, dating back to the 1870s, that was on loan from the Martin Guitar Museum.

In the movie, Jennifer Jason Leigh reacts with horror to the guitar-smashing, and she apparently wasn’t acting. After the movie came out, sound mixer Mark Ulano told SSN Insider how it happened: “The guitar was a loaner from the Martin Guitar Museum, and there were six doubles made… 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.” A rep for the Martin Guitar Museum told Reverb that the whole thing was “very distressing” and vowed that it would “no longer loan guitars to movies under any circumstances.”

It’s been a long time, but Kurt Russell evidently still feels pretty raw about it. In a recent Esquire video interview, Russell gets increasingly pissed off while telling the story:

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. 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.”

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… [Changes voices to creepy whisper] 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!

Man, when he changes voices like that? That’s an actor!

Back To Top