John Travolta (search) was a punch line before Quentin Tarantino (search) resurrected his career in 1994's "Pulp Fiction." Three years later, the director performed similar career-CPR on Pam Grier in "Jackie Brown."
And with "Kill Bill: Vol. 2," (search) which opens tomorrow, Tarantino has a new pair of comeback kids, Daryl "Splash" Hannah and David "Kung Fu" Carradine.
Although this is definitely Uma Thurman's (search) movie, Hannah has a creepy turn as one of Thurman's enemies, Elle Driver. And critics are raving about Carradine's menacing-yet-funny portrayal of the title character, Bill, Thurman's ultimate nemesis.
But Tarantino admits he had to cajole Miramax head Harvey Weinstein (search) into letting him hire Carradine.
"I have a pretty good track record as far as this is concerned," Tarantino says of his casting successes. "So I get a little bit of slack as far as that. "[Harvey] said that if I wanted it to be David, it could be him, but he said, 'Let me just bring up one other star'."
Tarantino won't reveal who Weinstein wanted, but he does admit he briefly talked to Warren Beatty (search) about playing Bill.
Weinstein's main concern was about Carradine's mental health, Tarantino recalls.
"[Harvey] was like, 'Is he crazy?,' " the director says. "The next day he met with him just to make sure he's OK."
Carradine, best known for the TV series "Kung Fu," (search) has talked candidly about his past boozing and narcotics use.
But Carradine hasn't had a drink since 1996, and nowadays he's less about partying than Oriental herbs, exercise and philosophy. He lives a seemingly placid life in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley with his girlfriend, her four children and a couple of dogs - and he's ready for a Travolta-type resuscitation.
"There isn't anything that Anthony Hopkins or Clint Eastwood or Sean Connery or any of those old guys are doing that I couldn't do," says Carradine, 67. "All that was ever required was somebody with Quentin's courage to take and put me in the spotlight."
Hannah, who lives with four horses, three dogs and a cat - "all strays," she says - on a ranch in the Rockies, could also enjoy a career bump from "Bill," as well as her critically acclaimed roles in such recent art-house fare as "Northfork" and "Casa de los Babys."
In fact, she had such a great time on the "Kill Bill" set she was reluctant to leave.
"I worked on the crew when my part wrapped," says Hannah, 43. "I ended working as a gaffer, as a stunt-double, as wardrobe and as hair [stylist]. I even stunt-doubled Uma's hand driving."
But she says she doesn't really miss the mainstream success that she had in the mid-'80s with such romantic comedies as "Splash" (search) and "Roxanne."
"Quite honestly, I didn't really imagine that I would still be alive after I was like maybe 24 or 25, and I never thought I would be acting this long," says Hannah.
"At one point, I was just like, 'OK, I'm done with that. I'll move on to something else because this has sort of run its course.'
"I'm still kind of heading in other directions right now, but if interesting things come up, I'll be psyched."
- with Post wire services