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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood release date, cast, teasers, plot line and everything you need to know about Tarantino’s latest movie

Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt. Pic credit: @leonardodicaprio/Instagram

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is director Quentin Tarantino’s latest movie, following The Hateful Eight, released in December 2015.

Although a lot about the plot of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood remains shrouded in mystery, we know that Tarantino is using the infamous Manson Family murders of 1969, one of the most blood-splattered moments in the history of Los Angeles, as a backdrop for his story. But the extent to which the film is about the Manson Family murders is not yet clear.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood parades an all-star cast that includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Al Pacino and Burt Reynolds. It will also feature the famed martial artist and actor Bruce Lee as one of the characters in the story.

Filming is currently under way, and while we impatiently await the premiere of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, here we present everything you need to know about the latest film by the writer and director whose work over the past four decades has brought us a string of classics, including Reservoir Dogs (1992) and Pulp Fiction (1994).

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood release date

Despite Tarantino’s previous insistence that the plot of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood does not center around the grisly murders by Charles Manson and his followers in 1969, the movie was originally slated for release on August 9, 2019, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the killings. However, Sony Pictures announced in July 2018 that it was moving up the release date by two weeks to July 26, 2019.

Sony gave no reason for the change in release date, but the announcement was part of several other shifts in Sony’s movie scheduling at the time. Some fans speculated that the release date was moved away from the 50th anniversary of the Manson Family murders to underscore Tarantino’s insistence that the film is not about the tragic August 1969 killings. Multiple sources, including The Hollywood Reporter, have reported that the release date was moved up two weeks to find a more favorable premiere date in a crammed summer box office.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood filming details

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, who is co-producing with David Heyman (who produced the Harry Potter movies) and Shannon McIntosh, who has a history of previous collaborations with Tarantino, and is known for her work on Death Proof (2007) and Grindhouse (2007).

Georgia Kacandes, best-known for her work on Gattaca (1997), Hugo (2011) and The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), serves as executive and line producer.

The movie will be distributed by Sony Pictures. Sony reportedly beat several top competitors, including Paramount, Universal, Warner Bros., Lionsgate, and Annapurna, to the rights for the movie.

Tarantino and Harvey Weinstein have a history of collaboration. Their association began at Miramax and continued after Weinstein started The Weinstein Company. Most of Tarantino’s previous films were released by Miramax and later The Weinstein Co. However, Tarantino cut ties with the company, following Weinstein’s recent scandal.

The budget for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is reported to be in the $100 million range. This is a huge budget compared with $1.5 million for Reservoir Dogs (1992), about $8.5 million for Pulp Fiction (1994), and about $44 million for The Hateful Eight (2015).

Tarantino once shared that he’s been working on the script for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood for five years.

“I’ve been working on this script for five years, as well as living in Los Angeles County most of my life, including in 1969, when I was 7 years old,” said Tarantino. “I’m very excited to tell this story of an LA and a Hollywood that don’t exist anymore. And I couldn’t be happier about the dynamic teaming of DiCaprio and Pitt as Rick & Cliff.”

To add to the historical authenticity of the movie, clothing and costumes that hark back to the 1960s will be used. Several scenes in the movie will also be shot in their real-life and historical settings in L.A.

Tarantino has hinted that Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, his ninth movie, will likely be his penultimate.

Movie teasers and trailers

No official trailer has been released for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. However, based on the fact that the trailer for Tarantino’s last movie, The Hateful Eight, was released about four months before its release date, fans are expecting the first trailer for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood to be released early in 2019. But some fans are hoping the trailer will come during the next holiday season.

Sony Pictures released the “first-look” image for the movie on June 27, 2018. DiCaprio shared an image of himself and co-actor Brad Pritt costumed as their respective characters, Rick Dalton, a Western TV movie star struggling with a flagging career, and Cliff Booth, his longtime stuntman. The image shows both actors in 1960s era outfit. DiCaprio, as Rick Dalton, is dressed in an orange and brown leather jacket, turtleneck and brown pants, while Pitt, as Cliff Booth, wears denims and shades.

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First look. #OnceUponATimeInHollywood

A post shared by Leonardo DiCaprio (@leonardodicaprio) on

Margot Robbie also took to Instagram on August 6, 2018, to share a preview image of herself as her character, the 1960s model and actress Sharon Tate. The official still showed the Oscar-nominated actress in a chic blast from the past 60s costume that recreated her famous character’s looks. Fans were stunned to see Robbie looking so hauntingly like Tate, in white boots, short white skirt, black turtleneck, and white boots.

Robbie will be playing The Valley of the Dolls (1967) star Sharon Tate, who was one of the victims of the Mason Family killings. Tate was married at the time to the director Roman Polanski, and was about eight and a half months pregnant when she was brutally murdered along with three visiting friends.

She died from multiple stab wounds in the gruesome killings that took place after members of the Manson Family invaded her home at 10050 Cielo Drive in Los Angeles.

Tate met Polanski on the set of his movie The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967), and they were married soon after. It is often claimed that their marriage inspired Polanski’s next movie, Rosemary’s Baby (1968).

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’s star-studded cast

Director Tarantino has put together a star-studded cast for his upcoming movie.

Tarantino’s all-star cast includes Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Margo Robbie, Al Pacino, Kurt Russell, Timothy Olyphant, Damian Lewis, Burt Reynolds, and Dakota Fanning. Others include Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Zoë Bell, James Remar, Brenda Vaccaro, Spencer Garrett, Martin Kove, Nichole Galicia, Mike Moh, Craig Stark, Marco Rodriguez, Ramon Franco and Raul Cardona.

Two new additions to the cast announced on August 23 include the actor, writer and producer Lena Dunham, who is best known as the creator of the HBO series The Girls (2012-2017), in which she also starred as Hannah Horvath. Dunham also appeared in American Horror Story (TV series 2011- ) as Valerie Solanas. She will be playing the role of a character named Gypsy, according to Variety.

Maya Hawke, Ethan Hawke’s daughter with Uma Thurman, has also joined the cast, and she will be playing a character dubbed Flower Child. Uma Thurman has worked with Tarantino in the past, having stared in a number of his movies, including Pulp Fiction (1994) and Kill Bill (2003). Fans will recall that Thurman had an accident and suffered injuries while performing a stunt during the shooting of Kill Bill.

Lorenza Izzo has also joined the cast and will appear as the Italian movie star Francesca Capucci, Variety reported.

Tarantino first confirmed in January 2018 that DiCaprio and Pitt will be starring in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. This will be the first time the two actors are appearing together  in a feature film. DiCaprio, who achieved fame as Jack Dawson in James Cameron’s Titanic (1997), worked with Tarantino on Django Unchained (2012), portraying the racist slave owner Calvin Candle.

Tarantino and DiCaprio teased the first details about the upcoming move at the CinemaCon in April. Margot Robbie also confirmed earlier reports about her role as Sharon Tate at CinemaCon.

It was first rumored that DiCaprio will be playing Manson, but it has now been confirmed that he will be playing an aging and “out-of-work” former western TV star, Rick Dalton. Dalton had his own Western Show, Bounty Law, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, but in 1969, the year in which Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is set, Dalton is a washed-up actor contemplating moving to Italy to revive his career.

DiCaprio’s character, Rick Dalton, happens to live next door to Sharon Tate.

Brad Pitt is cast in the new movie as Cliff Booth, Dalton’s longtime stunt double, whose fortunes are tied with Dalton’s. Pitt joins the cast of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood after working with Tarantino on Inglorious Basterds (2009).

Academy Award winner Al Pacino portrays Marvin Scwharz, Rick Dalton’s agent.

Dakota Faning, who portrayed Sara Howard in The Alienist (TV series 2018), Lewellen in Hounddog (2007), and Lily in The Secret Life of Bees (2008), plays Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, a member of the Manson Family, who was  sentenced to life imprisonment in 1975 after an assassination attempt on President Gerald Ford.

Squeaky was released on parole on August 14, 2009.

Margot Robbie, who portrayed figure skater Tonya Harding in I, Tonya (2017), and appeared with DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) as Naomi Lapaglia, was officially confirmed in May 2018 to be playing actress Sharon Tate, The Valley of Dolls (1967) star, and wife of Rosemary’s Baby (1968) director Roman Polanski.

Burt Reynolds, 82-year-old star of Smokey and the Bandit (1977), and Deliverance (1972), will portray George Spahn, the owner of the ranch where Charles Manson and his followers lived and reportedly planned their crimes.
While the extent to which the movie will adhere to and portray the details of history remains in question, castings such as Burt Reynolds’ have been cited as evidence that the storyline will delve significantly into the historical details of the horrific Manson Family killings.

English actor Damian Lewis, who played Major Richard Winters in the HBO series Band of Brothers (2001), portrayed Sergeant Nicholas Brody in Showtime’s Homeland (2011- ), and Bobby Axelrod in Billions (TV sereis 2016- ), will portray the 1960s superstar Steve McQueen in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Keith Jefferson, who portrayed Charly in Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, and Pudgy Ralph in Django Unchained, will now portray Land Pirate Keith.

Emile Hirsh, who portrayed hiker Christopher McCandless in Into the Wild (2007), is set to play Jay Sebring (Thomas John Kummer), the celebrities’ hairstylist, who was one of the victims in the Manson Family murders.

Actor Clifton Collins Jr., who appeared as the criminal Host Lawrence in West world (TV series 2016- ), will play Ernesto “The Mexican” Vaqero in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Riverdale star Luke Perry will appear as Scotty Lancer, and Scoot McNairy, known for his roles in Killing Them Softly (2012), 12 Years a Slave (2013), Gone Girl (2014), and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), will play Business Bob Gilbert.

James Marsden, who appeared as Cyclops in the X-Men, and as Teddy in HBO’s Westworld, has also been cast. And so has Julia Butters, best known for her role as Anna-Kat Otto in American Housewife (TV series 2016- ).

Spencer Garrett, who portrayed Ted Coldwater in The Magicians (TV series 2015- ), and John Merrill in Insecure (TV series 2016- ), will play Allen Kincade, a TV interviewer.

Other members of the cast of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood include other actors that Tarantino has worked with in the past, including Kurt Russell (Death Proof and The Hateful Eight), Tim Roth (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and the Hateful Eight), and Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs).

A final notable inclusion in the cast is Mike Moh, who appeared in Marvel’s Inhumans (2017) as Triton, and in Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist (2014) as Ryu. Mohn, who has previously portrayed Lee on YouTube and tweeted in honor of the late martial artist on the 45th anniversary of his death, will be portraying Bruce Lee in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Lee enters the story apparently because police investigators briefly investigated him as a suspect in Tate’s murder. He served as trainer to Polanski and trained Tate for her role as Freya Carlson in The Wrecking Crew (1968). Chuck Norris made his film debut in The Wrecking Crew, playing a minor role.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood plotline

The storyline focuses on DiCaprio’s character Rick Dalton, an aging Hollywood actor and his longtime stunt double, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), both struggling to revive their careers. The story is set against the backdrop of the infamous Manson Family killings in Los Angeles, 1969. Dalton happens to live next door to Sharon Tate, played by Margot Robbie.

According to Tarantino in a statement released in February 2018, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is set in L.A. in 1969, “at the height of hippy Hollywood.”

“The two lead characters are Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), former star of a Western TV series, and his longtime stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt),” Tarantino said, according to Hollywood Reporter. “Both are struggling to make it in a Hollywood they don’t recognize anymore. But Rick has a very famous next-door neighbor… Sharon Tate.”

Although early reports about the movie suggested it was centered on the Manson Family murders, Tarantino insisted the movie will not center on the killings, but declined to say exactly the role it would play in the storyline. However, at the CinemaCon last April, he described Once Upon a Time in Hollywood as “probably the closest to ‘Pulp Fiction’ that I have done.”

Deadline described Once Upon a Time in Hollywood as “Pulp Fiction-esque tapestry of Los Angeles during the summer of the Manson murders.”

Vanity Fair confirmed in a November 2017 report that the story will focus on Rick Dalton, a washed-up TV actor, and Cliff Booth, his stunt double, planning to get into the film business. This suggests that the filmmakers focused on the Manson Family killings in their earlier descriptions only to heighten interest in the movie.

Vanity Fair quoted a source who claimed to have read the script. The alleged source said that DiCaprio’s character Rick Dalton and his stunt double, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), were planning to travel to Italy in search of casting opportunities in the Spaghetti Western film industry when the horrific murder of Tate and four of her guests by members of Charles Manson’s cult occurs next door.

Charles Manson was the leader of the Manson Family that first emerged as a desert commune and cult in California in the late 1960s. The group relocated to San Francisco, and later in August 1968, to a ranch in the San Fernando Valley, near Topanga Canyon Boulevard, owned by 80-year-old George Spahn, being portrayed by Burt Reynolds in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Director Roman Polanski was in London on the night of August 9, 1969, when a group of Manson’s followers, including Tex Watson, Susan Atkins, Linda Kasabian, and Patricia Krenwinkel, broke into Tate and Polanski’s rented home on 10050 Cielo Drive in Benedict Canyon, in the Westside of L.A.

The group killed Tate, along with visiting friends, Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski, and Abigail Folger. Tate, who was eight and a half months pregnant at the time, died from multiple stab wounds.

DiCaprio praised Tarantino’s script as “one of the most amazing screenplays” he’s ever read.

“It’s hard to speak about a film that we haven’t done yet, but I’m incredibly excited… to work with Brad Pitt, and I think he’s going to transport us,” he said. “We are going to do our best job to make it fantastic.”

Fans can also expect the soundtrack of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood to feature the best from the 1960s era.

John Thomas Didymus has worked as a writer since 2010. He has written for several sites including Screen Rant and WikiHow, and his articles have... read more
John Thomas Didymus

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