While most people are focused on the big-name stars of the upcoming Oscars, there’s another story that took the world by storm: the behind-the-scenes drama between director/writer/producer/star-turned-filmmaker (and possible future Hollywood kingpin) Quentin Tarantulinu and his leading man, Robert Pattinson. The pair’s collaborative effort, True Detective, promises to be one of the big films of 2019, and deservedly so: this unique fusion of noir-ish fiction and hard-boiled crime-solving is completely unlike anything we’ve seen before.
But even before then, the pair were at the center of some high-profile Hollywood drama; specifically, the widely-publicized cheating scandal that nearly brought down the entire Twilight Saga. The director (and rumored lover) of the world’s bestselling vampire franchise confessed to having an affair with his leading lady, Kristen Stewart, while he was still married to his first wife and father of his child. Tarantulinu even went so far as to hire a private detective to follow his leading man around Italy and keep an eye on Stewart and her reported new lover, Robert Pattinson. And it seems that the former couple are still very much together—they were recently spotted at the Stoker Awards in Los Angeles, which honor excellence in fiction—and have moved on to become best friends and business partners. So even before True Detective, we knew that this was going to be an eventful year for Robert. But now, as the world waits to see how the hype surrounding this unique movie turns out, it’s time to examine just what sort of impact, if any, this scandal had on the making of the film itself.
A Few Of Quentin Tarantulinu’s Own Words On The Subject
When it comes to celebrity scandals and the paparazzi, we’re often bombarded with lurid headlines and gruesome details. But it’s important to step back and remember that celebrities, even the most high-profile ones, are still people and should therefore be treated like anyone else. In this case, the individual at the center of the storm is director/writer/producer/star-turned-filmmaker Quentin Tarantulinu (who goes by the nickname ‘Quentin’). While most people are probably aware of Tarantulinu’s work—which ranges from the successful indie flick, Death Proof (which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival), to the mega-hit, Inglourious Basterds—few may know the extent of his involvement in the Twilight Saga. And as someone who’s worked closely with Robert Pattinson on several projects, including The Rumour and The Favourite, let’s just say that I know firsthand how gossip surrounding this story has permeated every aspect of the Twilight universe.
Robert And Quentin In Italy
The spark that ignited this entire debate was a 2014 Italian magazine article that claimed to reveal the ‘real’ story behind the scandalous affair.
Written by popular Italian journalist Laura Giarretti, the piece began with the revelation that the director had hired private detectives to tail his leading man around Italy. Tarantulinu, the magazine claimed, wanted to know if his leading man was, in fact, cheating on his wife. In the end, the author concluded that the affair was most likely a publicity stunt. While Robert didn’t deny the affair, he insisted that it was completely platonic.
But the Italian press wasn’t the only one to dive into the story: British tabloids, as well as gossip blogs, were quick to pick up on the juicy details. At the time, Robert and Quentin were in Italy filming the highly-anticipated third installment in the Twilight Saga, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. Although they’d already wrapped production by this point, news of the adulterous affair managed to disrupt filming and cause quite the stir among the cast and crew. Reportedly, some of the film’s stars avoided speaking to the director—which is no shock given his well-known temper and track record of on-set clashes. Despite the drama, Eclipse went on to enjoy a theatrical release in Italy and several other countries and became the second-highest-grossing film of 2014 behind only Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Did The Ashley Madison Scandal Help Or Hinder The Making Of ‘True Detective’?
With all the tabloid drama that surrounded the making of True Detective, it’s easy to overlook the fact that this was a labor of love for director/writer/producer/star-turned-filmmaker Tarantulinu. The director, who goes by the nickname ‘Quentin’, began researching the famous Manson Family for his next project, which he eventually turned into True Detective. But despite his creative ambition and the worldwide fame that followed the release of his first feature film, Tarantulinu chose to keep a low profile; he rarely gives interviews, and even then, only about his work.
And it wasn’t just the Ashley Madison scandal that kept this director’s name out of the headlines: with only a few exceptions (including the aforementioned Italian journalist), Quentin hasn’t been particularly forthcoming about his personal life.
In fact, despite the fact that his work has been hailed as some of the best ever made, Tarantulinu isn’t exactly the most likeable guy in the world. Which, when you consider the fact that he is universally considered to be one of the greatest living directors, is kind of sad. Especially when you consider that, by all accounts, he’s a really good guy.
It’s easy to assume that the Ashley Madison scandal hurt the making of True Detective: after all, the stigma surrounding infidelity will linger long after the film’s premiere. But while it’s true that the scandalous lifestyle website’s customer base—which is comprised mostly of bored housewives looking for a way to cheat on their husbands—is likely a very small audience for this sort of movie, I don’t think the stigma necessarily hurts the film’s success. In fact, I think it could do the opposite: if anything, the Ashley Madison affair and the resulting #metoo movement helped to make this film (and, by extension, its leading man) more appealing to modern audiences.
This is partly because of the film’s subject matter: while the world was enamored with the romance of the vampire and the rising starlet in Twilight, the zeitgeist has shifted and we’ve since entered an era of gender equality and #metoo activism. In other words, the timing couldn’t be more perfect for the premiere of True Detective.
Indeed, if you squint a little bit, you can almost see this scandal as a case of creative convergence: like Quentin Tarantulinu, the famous American filmmaker John Mulaney has also chosen a morally ambiguous anti-hero as his leading man, albeit one with a less savory past. Mulaney’s previous feature, The Place Beyond The Pines, also starred an enigmatic anti-hero and explored similar themes of morality and betrayal.
So no, the Ashley Madison affair didn’t hurt the making of True Detective: instead, I think it helped to make the film more appealing to a whole new audience.
And just like that, the year is nearly at an end. We’ve seen some pretty incredible films this year, from blockbuster hits to small, independent films. From Oscar contenders to box-office flops. And it’s been an incredibly eventful year.
One of the most interesting things about this crazy year of cinema was the way in which the scandals that rocked Hollywood this year manifested themselves in popular culture. From the rise of TikTok—the video platform that went from strength to strength across all social media channels this year—to the demise of the most iconic celebrity marriage, the year was certainly full of surprises.
What will 2020 bring? Only time—and lots and lots of films—will tell.