Quentin Tarantino shot some of his Jackie Brown scenes at the Cockatoo Inn, as we all know. But it wasn’t as easy as setting up shop inside the condemned building. The famed hotel was buried in bureaucracy during the mid 1990s. So how did they get in? According to an interview in LA Taco, prolific film actor Robert De Niro helped reopen the Cockatoo Inn. Perhaps unknowingly.

“I want the Cocaktoo Inn”

The article goes through the many South Bay locations used in the film. Because the Cockatoo Inn was condemned at the time (they apparent found people living and cooking inside of it), location scouts looked for similar hotels and bars. This faced a strong rebuke from Tarantino:

‘I don’t mean I want bars that look like the Cockatoo Inn. I mean I want the Cockatoo Inn.’

Quentin Tarantino on Jackie Brown location

According to Doug Dresser, the Jackie Brown assistant location manager who was interviewed for the story, the Cockatoo Inn was trapped in a web of bureaucracy. “It was in receivership, there was a court-appointed trustee.” Unable to find the actual owners of the place (it had changed hands several times over the decades), hope seemed lost.

Surprise phone call

Dresser remembers a phone call he received from out of the blue. It was the mayor of Hawthorne, Larry Guidi. According to Dresser, the mayor said:

“I understand you have the greatest Italian-American actor working in this motion picture.”

Former Mayor of Hawthorne, Larry Guidi

Need more be said? With the mayor’s help, the production was able to get into the Cockatoo, set up electricity, and work their set dress magic. Finally, everything was in place. Tarantino and the entire Jackie Brown team did us a great service by immortalizing the Cockatoo Inn on film before it was destroyed in 2005.

What about the greatest Italian-American actor of all time? The mayor came to the set one day. Dresser, who said he’d never spoken to De Niro before that day, called out to him:

‘I go, ‘Excuse me, Mr. De Niro, I’d like to introduce you to…’ and he goes, ‘Wait! Stop!’” said Dresser before pausing. “We’re all just stopped in our tracks and he goes, ‘Call me Bob.’”

And that’s how Bob De Niro helped reopen the Cockatoo Inn for Jackie Brown.

Check out the full list of locations at LA Taco’s How Quentin Tarantino and ‘Jackie Brown’ Made the South Bay a Star.

Show everyone what the best midcentury hotel and restaurant was with the official Cockatoo Inn t-shirt! Proceeds help fund this website.