After eight feature-length directing credits and more than 20 years atop the Hollywood hierarchy, director Quentin Tarantino has earned a reputation that makes any project he’s working on a big deal. The famed auteur’s next project, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, uses the infamous Manson Family murders of 1969 as the backdrop to a story set in — you guessed it — Hollywood, California.
We now have our first official photo from the film, which is said to be separated into thematic chapters — à la Pulp Fiction — and is scheduled for release August 9, 2019, the 50th anniversary of the notorious murders. Over the past year, rumors have been flying all over regarding which high-profile stars might end up in the movie. So far, the list of confirmed castings includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, and Westworld actor James Marsden.
Here’s everything we know about the film so far.
The first look
DiCaprio shared the first photo from Once Upon a Time in Hollywood on his Instagram account in late June, offering the first peek at him and Pitt as their ’60s-era characters.
One thing the image makes certain is that there will no shortage of suede and denim in Tarantino’s upcoming film.
From the West to the ‘Wood
Well, it looks like Tarantino is going to do his damndest to squeeze as many A-list stars into this movie. James Marsden — best known for his roles as Cyclops in the early X-Men films and as Teddy in HBO’s Westworld — has joined the cast in an undisclosed role, per Variety. Young actress Julia Butters (American Housewife) has also been added.
The rich get richer
If this film’s cast wasn’t already stacked enough (it was), Deadline has announced several new additions, further bolstering the star power of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Lewis (Billions), Dakota Fanning (Please Stand By), Luke Perry (Riverdale), Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild), and Clifton Collins Jr. (Westworld) have all signed on, joining an absurd lineup that already included DiCaprio, Pitt, Margot Robbie, and Timothy Olyphant, among others.
Lewis will play actor Steve McQueen, while Hirsch will portray hairstylist Jay Sebring, one of the Manson murder victims. Fanning is to play a Manson disciple who later attempted to assassinate President Gerald Ford, and the other actors’ characters are either fictional or lesser-known players in the story. Keith Jefferson and Nicholas Hammond also joined the cast.
From assault accomplice to murder victim
Following a lengthy negotiation process, Robbie has officially announced (via an interview with IndieWire) that she’ll be playing Sharon Tate in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Robbie most recently earned acclaim with her performance as disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding in I, Tonya, and she previously worked with DiCaprio on The Wolf of Wall Street. (Robbie also had a brief role in The Big Short, which cast Pitt in one of its featured roles.) The actress’ next appearance will be in a crime thriller titled Terminal.
The boys are back in town … maybe
Following the castings of DiCaprio (in January) and Pitt (in February), Tarantino is reportedly in talks to add several veteran stars — and some former collaborators — to the cast.
According to Deadline, Burt Reynolds, Kurt Russell, Tim Roth, and Michael Madsen are all in talks to join the film’s cast. Reynolds, 82, would be taking on the role of George Spahn, a Manson sympathizer and the owner of a ranch where the murders were reportedly planned. Russell, Roth, and Madsen all appeared in 2015’s The Hateful Eight, and all three have worked with Tarantino on past projects.
Brad Pitt will reunite with his Inglourious Basterds director, Quentin Tarantino, for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Tarantino describes the film as “a story that takes place in Los Angeles in 1969, at the height of hippie Hollywood. The two lead characters are Rick Dalton (DiCaprio), former star of a Western TV series, and his longtime stunt double Cliff Booth (Pitt). 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.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Pitt’s attachment will give the film some momentum after a contentious development period in which DiCaprio came close to leaving the film.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood will reunite both Pitt and DiCaprio with Tarantino, but will be the first time the two leading men have co-starred in a film together. Their only other feature collaboration was on 2006’s The Departed, which Pitt produced and DiCaprio starred in. Pitt’s collaboration with Tarantino on Inglorious Basterds resulted in eight Academy Award nominations, with Waltz also taking home the film’s only Oscar for his supporting role.
Leonardo DiCaprio has been confirmed as being cast in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
In the film, DiCaprio will play the role of aging actor Rick Dalton on what Deadline describes as a “Pulp Fiction-esque movie set” during the summer of 1969. The Titanic actor’s casting as an older actor carries a bit of irony. Before Tarantino cast DiCaprio as racist plantation owner Calvin Candie in 2012’s Django Unchained, he had wanted an older actor to play the role, but rewrote it to take into account DiCaprio’s age.
DiCaprio previously worked with Tarantino on 2012’s Django Unchained, which received five Academy Award nominations and took home two Oscars for its screenplay and for supporting actor Christoph Waltz.
“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 seven years old,” said Tarantino in a statement accompanying the announcement. “I’m very excited to tell this story of an L.A. and a Hollywood that don’t exist anymore. And I couldn’t be happier about the dynamic teaming of DiCaprio and Pitt as Rick and Cliff.”
Tarantino’s most recent project as both writer and director was 2015’s The Hateful Eight, which was nominated for three Academy Awards and won one Oscar for its original score.
Updated on June 27: Added the first photo from the film.