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Trivia / Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

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  • Ability over Appearance: Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt aren't all that similar looking, even though it's said a few times how great a much Rick's stuntman Cliff is for him. Few people critiqued this though, with both performances being highly acclaimed.
  • Acting for Two: In addition to his on-screen role, Kurt Russell provides the voice of the off-screen narrator.
  • Acting in the Dark: The ending was deliberately omitted from copies of scripts in order to keep it secret from everyone including the studio. The only persons who really knew the ending right at the beginning of production apart from Quentin Tarantino were the lead actors themselves and a close friend of Roman Polański whom Tarantino showed the entire script. Robert Richardson said that he and other main crew members were only told of it two months prior to filming the climax. Others knew much later into filming or during post-production; an example would be that Margaret Qualley only found out through Brad Pitt while filming at the Spahn Ranch set.
  • Actor-Inspired Element:
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    • Leonardo DiCaprio had a very difficult time playing Dalton's roles as Dalton would, rather than how he himself would, especially since Dalton is supposed to be an actor of hidden range, so he suggested Dalton forgetting his lines mid-scene to ironically help him stay in character as Dalton. The following scene in the trailer was also unscripted.
    • Although Burt Reynolds, who was originally cast as George Spahn, died before he could film any of his scenes, he still managed to contribute one element to the final film. Upon learning that Brad Pitt was going to play Cliff, Reynolds told Tarantino "You've gotta have someone say 'You're pretty for a stunt guy'" to Cliff. The line as suggested by Reynolds appears verbatim in the final film, said by Bruce Lee.
  • Approval of God: Debra Tate was initially very apprehensive about the project as she feared the murder of her sister Sharon would be salaciously exploited (she's been defending her sister's memory against exploitation for decades), but after talking with Quentin Tarantino and reading the script, she gave it her blessing. Debra also admitted that she wept when she saw Margot Robbie perform as Sharon, saying that Robbie nailed the role: "I actually got to see my sister again nearly 50 years later."
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  • Author Existence Failure: Burt Reynolds was initially cast as George Spahn, but succumbed to a heart attack before shooting began. Bruce Dern replaced him in the role.
  • Banned in China: A peculiar case. China rejected the film not because of its explicit content, but because of the questionable portrayal of Bruce Lee (as mentioned below), who remains a cinematic icon in China.
  • Cameo Prop: The Maltese Falcon seen in the book store visited by Tate is the real Maltese Falcon, now owned by Leonardo DiCaprio.
  • Cast the Runner-Up: Brad Pitt was reportedly in talks for an unspecified role in the film, which was rumored to be a detective investigating the murders, and was eventually turned down by Pitt. Negotiations stopped for a couple months as it was assumed Pitt wasn't interested. Quentin Tarantino then tried to consider Tom Cruise for what many assumed was the same role (it has not been confirmed) that Pitt declined but matters never materialized with Cruise. Tarantino then went back to Pitt months later for a role again but this time, it was confirmed as stuntman Cliff Booth, which Pitt signed on to do.
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  • Celebrity Voice Actor: In the Japanese dub, Bruce Lee and Roman Polański are voiced by the TV and movie actor, Ryu Morimiya (see Actor Allusion for more details). Likewise, Tex is voiced by Yamato Kinjo, aka Nobuharu Udo/Kyoryu Blue in Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger.
  • Channel Hop: The film, like Tarantino's previous three movies, was initially to be produced by The Weinstein Company. Following the company's near-collapse due to the sexual abuse allegations on Harvey Weinstein, Tarantino looked for a new production house. The project ended up at Sony Pictures.
  • Dawson Casting:
    • Producer Marvin Schwartz was 41 in 1969. He's played by Al Pacino, who was 78 during the filming. Although the character makes a point of saying he is not Marvin Schwartz, he is Marvin Schwarz.
    • 50 year olds Luke Perry and Timothy Olyphant as 32-year-old Wayne Maunder and James Stacy, even older than Andrew Duggan was when he played Stacy and Maunder's dad in Lancer.
    • Danielle Harris (age 42) plays a member of the Manson Family. Her character's age is never specified, but she is clearly no more than her mid-twenties. Harris is still convincing.
    • Margaret Qualley was 23 during production playing a girl who is heavily implied to be younger than 18.
  • Defictionalization: The MAD issue that Cliff has of himself was designed by the actual artists at the magazine, who eventually released a full version advertised as a special "Tarantino Time Warp Issue".
  • Deleted Role:
    • Regular Tarantino contributors Tim Roth and Michael Madsen, plus James Remar who appeared in Django Unchained, all filmed scenes for the movie, but most of their footage was cut for time — Madsen is onscreen for about twenty seconds, and Roth and Remar are edited out entirely, with the end credits even listing "Tim Roth (cut)".
    • James Marsden was announced to play Burt Reynolds, who in 1969 was a frequent guest star on TV westerns, as an in-joke with the real Reynolds also being in the film, but he ultimately doesn't appear in the film. It's unclear whether he was cut because of Reynolds' death.
    • Danny Strong was going to play Dean Martin, in what seems very much like it would be deliberately played for absurd laughs. The real Martin is seen in clips from The Wrecking Crew.
  • Disowned Adaptation:
    • Bruce Lee's daughter Shannon took great issue with her father being portrayed as simply an Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy with none of his deep philosophical thoughts on display.
    • Roman Polański's wife Emmanuelle Seigner publicly spoke against the depiction of him in the film (the film making some oblique and anachronistic references to Polanski's conviction for statutory rape certainly wouldn't have helped), amidst other criticisms she had about it and Tarantino (possibly on Polanski's behalf, since he couldn't really voice it out himself without attracting more controversy).
  • Doing It for the Art: Eager to work with Quentin Tarantino again and to keep within the budget, Leonardo DiCaprio took a 25% pay cut from his usual $20 million salary.
  • Dueling Works: This movie is actually the third in 2019 to take inspiration from the Manson Family murders. A few months previously came The Haunting of Sharon Tate, a horror movie starring Hilary Duff that was panned upon release and quickly forgotten; and Charlie Says, a drama starring Matt Smith as Manson that received mixed reviews. There's also Season 2 of Mindhunter which was released a few weeks later, in which the same actor that plays Manson in this film plays Manson.
  • Dyeing for Your Art: Leonardo DiCaprio undertook a strict workout routine in order to convincingly play an action star, giving up pastas and desserts and doing hundreds of push ups per day. Ironically, Rick Dalton gains 15 pounds from his time in Italy by eating pastas and desserts, and it shows.
  • Extremely Lengthy Creation: Quentin Tarantino worked on the script for five years.
  • Fake American:
  • Fake Brit: American Rumer Willis as English Joanna Pettet.
  • Fake Nationality:
    • Chilean Lorenza Izzo as the Italian Francesca Cappucci. Downplayed by the fact that Izzo is of Italian descent and can speak the language fairly fluently.
    • Korean-American Mike Moh as the Chinese-American Bruce Lee.
    • Russian-American Costa Ronin plays the Polish Wojciech "Voytek" Frykowski.
  • Inspiration for the Work: Around 2009, Quentin Tarantino discovered the centerpiece for the film while filming a movie with an actor that had the same stunt double for 20 years. Even though there was nothing but a small bit for the stuntman to do, Tarantino was asked to use him, and he agreed. The relationship fascinated Tarantino and inspired him to make a film about Hollywood.
  • Meaningful Release Date: The film comes out fifty years after the murders that were committed by the "family" of Charles Manson and took the life of Sharon Tate. It was actually set to come out on the anniversary day (August 9) but was moved up two weeks by Sony out of respect after Debra Tate (Sharon's sister) called the initial release date "tacky and exploitative".
  • Mid-Development Genre Shift: Tarantino spent five years writing the story as a novel before realizing a film script would better suit the material.
  • Posthumous Credit: Luke Perry died in March 2019 from complications sustained after a massive stroke before the release of the film, which is consequently the last work he had contributed to.
  • Production Posse: As usual, Tarantino brought some veterans of his filmography in — Brad Pitt from Inglourious Basterds, Leonardo DiCaprio from Django Unchained, Bruce Dern from Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight, Kurt Russell from Death Proof and The Hateful 8, Zoe Bell from Death Proof and Django Unchained, and Michael Madsen from Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill and The Hateful 8, and Perla Haney-Jardine from Kill Billnote . He also gave a small role to Maya Hawke, daughter of posse member Uma Thurman. Two posse members, Tim Roth and James Remar, had their scenes cut but still show up in the credits. Tarantino goes as far as lampshading this in the credits, grouping most of his regulars under the heading "The Gang".
  • Reality Subtext:
    • Flowerchild taking the car keys and abandoning the other Family members. Linda Kasabian, the person on whom Flower's based, was the only unwilling participant in the real-life Tate killings; she was unable to stop the others from going ahead with the plan, but she never went into the house or attacked anyone. When the case came to trial, Kasabian turned state's witness and told the jury everything she could recall about the Family and the murders.
    • The real Kasabian is the only one of the group, at this writing, to have seen the outside of a prison since 1969. The movie Kasabian is the only one of the group to have lived to see daybreak.
    • A heavy Actor Allusion with Leonardo DiCaprio, as Rick Dalton. Firstly, that he is a TV actor trying to break into film, which DiCaprio was successful with, whereas Rick is not at this point. Secondly he is cast to play a heavy in a Western, which is similar to his role as the Faux Affably Evil Calvin Candie in Django Unchained. Lastly, him suggesting that he throw his young co-star is an allusion to DiCaprio cutting his hand in Django and incorporating it into the scene when he smeared his blood on Kerry Washington's face.
    • A little Reality Subtext for Tarantino himself in Lancer director Sam Wanamaker, who enthusiastically hires a veteran actor who's been typecast and believes that they can be more than how they are perceived. Reflects his relationship to John Travolta, Kurt Russell and Pam Grier.
    • A Casting Gag in Maya Hawke's character Flowerchild being uncomfortable with killing considering her mother played The Bride.
  • Real-Life Relative: In the Latin American Spanish dub, José Luis Orozco voices Randy, while his son Luis Fernando plays Jay Sebring.
  • Release Date Change: The film was initially set for release on August 9, 2019, the 50th anniversary of the murder of Sharon Tate, before being moved by Sony out of respect for the victims and Sharon Tate's family.
  • Role Reprise: An odd case with Damon Herriman, who reprises his role as Charles Manson from Mindhunter — he apparently auditioned for each role separately, and just happened to have been cast in both by coincidence. He plays the younger Charlie here; in Mindhunter, he plays Manson after decades in prison.
    • Similarly, Madisen Beaty had previously played Patricia Krenwinkel in Aquarius.
  • Starring a Star as a Star:
  • Throw It In!:
    • A flashback shows Rick Dalton training to use a flamethrower, and recoiling from the heat it generates. This was Leonardo DiCaprio's genuine reaction to the flamethrower. Quentin Tarantino thought it was funny, and left it in the movie.
    • Rick Dalton's freakout in his trailer was unscripted. The whole tirade was improvised by DiCaprio.
    • Brad Pitt ad-libbed the line, "You're Rick fucking Dalton! Don't you forget that". Pitt based that line on an actor who told him the same thing when he was a budding actor in the early nineties.
  • Wag the Director: The original script had Cliff outright winning against Bruce Lee with a cheap shot, but Brad Pitt himself objected to it, knowing full well how bad it could look even with Cliff being an Unreliable Narrator.
  • What Could Have Been:
    Culkin: It was a disaster. I wouldn’t have hired me. I’m terrible at auditioning anyway, and this was my first audition in like eight years.
  • Word of God: When asked what happened to Rick Dalton following the events of the film, Quentin Tarantino revealed that news quickly spread about him using his flamethrower to thwart the hippies and he became an In-Universe Memetic Badass. As a result, studios began offering him roles and The 14 Fists of McCluskey saw frequent airings on television.
  • Working Title: #9, as this is Quentin Tarantino's ninth film.

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