Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is not a Manson movie

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Leonardo DiCaprio Quentin Tarantino

Charles Manson and several members of his "Manson Family" may appear in writer/director Quentin Tarantino's new film ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD, but it is not a "Charles Manson movie". While the presence of Manson is the primary reason why we've been covering ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD here on Arrow in the Head, we've been aware for a long time that Tarantino did not want people to consider it a Manson movie. An a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, producers David Heyman and Shannon McIntosh have reiterated that Manson and his followers are not the primary focus here, saying that's a misconception that needs to be clarified.

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD is set in 

Los Angeles in 1969, at the height of hippy 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 producers, 

It’s about the loss of innocence that came about in 1969 with the Manson family."

Sharon Tate, played by Margot Robbie, being part of the film allows it to explore 

the three classes of Hollywood. There’s the high Hollywood of Sharon, the declining star of Rick, and there’s Cliff, who lives farther out and with more humble means."

Heyman said that Sharon Tate 

has been mythologized in some way through the murders but we get to see her as a person and we get to see her delight and enthusiasm and her sweetness. She represents an innocence and innocence lost in some way, and that innocence is very much — that sweetness, that goodness, that delight with the movies, with her, with her life — is something that we experience."

Tarantino and Robbie both sought out the blessing of Tate's sister Debra before embarking on the film. McIntosh said Robbie 

wanted to honor Sharon’s memory and she really drilled down to make sure that she got the best performance and was really embracing all that Sharon was. (Tarantino) absolutely embraced Debra Tate, and that was very important to him and to us that she’d be comfortable with what we’re doing because obviously anyone thinking that we’re making it a Manson movie, which we’re not, but he was very sensitive to that and remains sensitive to that."

The producers say that ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD is "really moving" because it's Tarantino's 

most personal film. This is his memories of growing up in Los Angeles and being a fan of Hollywood."

DiCaprio, Pitt, and Robbie are joined in the cast by Damon Herriman (as Charles Manson), Al Pacino, Bruce Dern, Mike Moh, Michael Madsen, Scoot McNairy, Rafal Zawierucha, Emile Hirsch, Costa Ronin, Luke Perry, Dakota Fanning, Clifton Collins Jr., Keith Jefferson, Nicholas Hammond, Rumer Willis, Dreama Walker, Margaret Qualley, Victoria Pedretti, Harley Quinn Smith, Madisen Beaty, Danny Strong, Sydney Sweeney, James Landry Hébert, Mikey Madison, Spencer Garrett, Eddie Perez, Maurice Compte, Maya Hawke, Lena Dunham, Austin Butler, Lorenza Izzo, James Remar, Martin Kove, Brenda Vaccaro, Nichole Galicia, Zoe Bell, Kurt Russell, Tim Roth, Timothy Olyphant, James Marsden, Marco Rodríguez, Ramón Franco, Raul Cardona, Julia Butters, Damian Lewis, and Clu Gulager.

ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD is set to reach theatres on July 26th, and I'm glad it's not a "Manson movie".

Source: EW.com

About the Author

Cody is a news editor and film critic, focused on the horror arm of JoBlo.com, and writes scripts for videos that are released through the JoBlo Originals and JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channels. In his spare time, he's a globe-trotting digital nomad, runs a personal blog called Life Between Frames, and writes novels and screenplays.