LAST April the cast of Reservoir Dogs, the iconic 1990s gangster heist movie, reunited 25 years after its release at the New York Tribeca Film Festival amid smiles and revelry. Much has been written about the hit movie with trivia, facts and oddities aiding its profile. But an episode that Quentin Tarantino, the controversial and outspoken director, might rather forget is an audition that went wrong with Ray Mancini, former world lightweight champion turned actor.

At the time Mancini was living in Santa Monica, California and had embarked on a film career. He was no stranger to the competitive auditioning process having appeared in numerous films and performed on television and in an off-Broadway play. On completing two successful auditions, Mancini was invited back by Tarantino at the Fox Studios lot in Los Angeles. Mancini described the fiery incident to Boxing News.

“I am sure you’re familiar with Reservoir Dogs. Now I went up for the role of Mr Pink. Third call back. He [Tarantino] said: ‘Man, you blew us away with that, but I can’t give you the role.’ I said: ‘Why not?’ He said: ‘It will take people right out of the movie. They’ll say, ‘That’s ‘Boom Boom’ Mancini and they won’t be paying attention to the film.’ I said: ‘Then why did you have me come back?’ He said: ‘I gotta be honest with you I was waiting for you to fall. I was waiting for you to fail.’ I said: ‘Is that right? What about if I come over to that table and f**king go for your jugular? How about if I kick your ass in front of everybody here? That’d be a story everybody would like. Let me tell you something, don’t you ever disrespect an actor like that! If I come across you again and I audition for you and I do the same type of job, you’d better give it to me or I’m coming after you.’ [Mancini recalled a stunned Tarantino who could only say] ‘Oh s**t!’ I was leaning over the table. He was on the other side of it. You can’t go after a guy in a room full of people, but I said it in a serious and threatening way.”

But Mancini’s tongue was in his cheek: “[I then said] ‘How’s that for acting?’ And Tarantino was like, ‘Oh s**t! Oh s**t’!”

Steve Buscemi got the part of Mr Pink, whose speaking part included a memorable monologue on why he doesn’t believe in tipping. Mancini continued: “Don’t get me wrong. Steve Buscemi, who got the role, is a friend of mine. He did a great job. I have worked with him. He’s a fabulous actor. People say: “See, you couldn’t do a Steve Buscemi?” I said: “No! No! No! I would have done it differently but been just as good. We did different roles to get there, but I would have been just as good.”

Mancini added: “In the entertainment business, if you get a second call back it means you did well enough to warrant it. If you come back for a third they’re interested. Now, they want to see what you can do for the role. Very seldom you go past three auditions. As an actor you know when you stink the joint out and you know when you kick ass too.”
Now, back in Youngstown, developing several film projects of his own, Mancini is no fan of the movie making machinations. “This is a business where there is no remorse. They have little feeling for you. All they are worried about is the ‘now’. It’s a today business. ‘What can you do for me today? God bless you, Ray! I’m a big fan of yours what can you do for me today?’ It don’t matter who you were. None of it matters.”

Mancini starred in 18 films and produced and released five films through his company. While Tarantino has gone onto become one of the biggest names behind the camera, he won’t thank us for reminding him of his close shave with “Boom Boom”.

This article was originally published in Boxing News magazine