It's fair to say that Quentin Tarantino took some liberties with Hollywood history in his latest movie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. But one scene that especially clanged for viewers was Brad Pitt's aging stuntman putting Bruce Lee in the dirt. The actor who played the martial arts legend defended Tarantino's decision to show Lee humbled.
Mike Moh said in an interview with Birth.Movies.Death that he had a similar reaction when he first read the scene where Pitt throws Lee into a car door.
"I’m not going to tell you what the original script had exactly, but when I read it, I was so conflicted because he’s my hero,” Moh said. “Bruce in my mind was literally a god. He wasn’t a person to me, he was a superhero. And I think that’s how most people view Bruce.”
Moh said that the fact that Lee was caught off guard came from a bit of truth.
“In the film it was a challenge — ‘best two out of three.’ I got the first point — I knocked him on his ass first. And Bruce at that time was so cocky and maybe got a little excited and he didn’t know Cliff Booth has killed dozens of people with his bare hands — and that’s what people may not realize up until that moment in the film," he said. "It’s a hugely important scene — what better way to show how dangerous Cliff is than for him to show up and even match him for a little bit with Bruce?”
He explained that Lee had a certain disdain for stuntmen when he was alive.
“Bruce didn’t always have the most affection for stuntmen; he didn’t respect all of them, because he was better than all the stunt guys. So after I got slammed, I get serious. And then we get into this scuffle, which is stopped — so it’s a tie," he said.
Moh also said that Lee would have won the fight, if they weren't separated by the film's crew.
"I can see how people might think Bruce got beat because of the impact with the car, but you give me five more seconds and Bruce would have won," he added. "So I know people are going to be up in arms about it, but when I went into my deep dive of studying Bruce, he more than anybody wanted people to know he’s human.”