Once upon a Time in Hollywood: Mike Moh on the Meeting Between Bruce Lee and Cliff Booth


Among the many celebrity cameos that appear in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in … Hollywood there is also the icon of martial arts in the cinema, Bruce Lee, played by Mike Moh. Tarantino includes Lee among the protagonists of the Hollywood environment of the 1960s and although the appearance in Moh’s film is short it is quite memorable.

In an interview with Birth.Movies.Death., Mike Moh explained that he had auditioned for Bruce Lee some time ago and had been ready for some time to reproduce the accent of the actor and martial artist from Hong Kong and, of course, its inimitable gravitas on the screen. 

“I don’t want to tell you exactly how the original screenplay was but when I read it I was so conflicted for him it was my hero,” Moh explained. Bruce was literally a god in my mind. He was not a person for me, he was a superhero “And I think that’s how most people see Bruce.” 

Mike Moh spoke in particular of the scene in which Lee confronts the stunt-man Cliff Booth, played by Brad Pitt; a comedy moment but also a challenge based on physical violence, according to Mike Moh: “Tarantino loves Bruce Lee, reveres him. In the film it was a challenge and Bruce was so arrogant and maybe a little enthusiastic at the time and he didn’t know that Cliff Booth had killed dozens of people with his bare hands, and that’s what people he may not understand the film until that moment. This is an extremely important scene, what better way to show how dangerous Cliff is if he doesn’t crash Bruce Lee? When he gets knocked down, Lee realizes that it’s not just about a stunt-man. And Bruce didn’t always have great respect for the stunt-man. Then the fight is stopped, it seems like a draw, even if people might think that it was beaten after the clash on the car. deep immersion in the character of Bruce Lee and I know that he, more than anyone else, he wanted people to know he was human “
Let us remember that Bruce Lee’s daughter said she was disappointed with Tarantino for how she decided to characterize the character. Criticisms of this kind also came from a student of Bruce Lee.