In a scene, Sharon Tate goes into Larry Edmunds Bookshop and purchases a copy of Tess of the d'Urbervilles. In real life, Tate gave a copy to Roman Polanski shortly before her death. Years later, Polanski directed the film adaptation, Tess, dedicating it to Tate. Dalton mentions he owns his house on advice from "Eddie O'Brien." Tate and Polanski's Yorkie Terrier in the film is named "Dr. Sapirstein," as was Tate's Yorkie in real life, named after the doctor portrayed by Ralph Bellamy in Rosemary's Baby. The carrier she puts the dog in is the same one the real Tate actually owned. The outfit Margot Robbie wears in the Bruin Theater scene is the same one Tate wore in Eye of the Devil.
In February 1969, veteran Hollywood actor Rick Dalton, star of 1950s Western television series Bounty Law, fears his career is fading. Casting agent Marvin Schwarz recommends he make Spaghetti Westerns in Italy, which Dalton feels are beneath him. Dalton's best friend and stunt double, Cliff Booth—a war veteran skilled in hand-to-hand combat who lives in a tiny trailer with his pit bull, Brandy—drives Dalton around Los Angeles because Dalton's driver's license has been suspended due to his DUI arrests. Booth struggles to find stunt work in Hollywood because of rumors he murdered his wife. Actress Sharon Tate and her husband, director Roman Polanski, have moved next door to Dalton, who dreams of befriending them to revive his declining acting career. That night, Tate and Polanski attend a celebrity-filled party at the Playboy Mansion.More Info
Trudi Fraser, the precocious child actor working on Lancer, is inspired by an actual character from that series. Marvin Schwarz is Dalton's agent, a role that Tarantino wrote specifically for Al Pacino. Francesca Capucci, a starlet who marries Dalton, is influenced by 1960s Italian actresses Sophia Loren and Claudia Cardinale. Billie Booth is Cliff's wife, whose death echoes Natalie Wood's. Some roles, such as Zoë Bell's stunt coordinator and Heba Thorisdottir's makeup artist, were portrayed by individuals who performed those jobs for the film.More Info
When casting the leads, Tarantino invited Pitt, DiCaprio, and Robbie to his house to read the only copy of the full script, to prevent leaks. When Butler auditioned, he did not know which character it was for. Tarantino told him it was for a villain or a hero on Lancer, when in fact it was for "Tex" Watson. To prepare for her audition, Maya Hawke practiced with her father, Ethan Hawke. She said the process was unlike any other except maybe auditioning for drama school, and during it they worked on the scene in many different ways, with different combinations of people. Willis auditioned for two roles, neither of which she got, then was offered the part of Joanna Pettet. Sydney Sweeney said everyone she auditioned with did so for the same character, then were told they could do extra credit. Some did artwork, and she wrote a letter in character. Julia Butters says her sitcom American Housewife was on while Tarantino was writing her character, Trudi Fraser. He looked up and said, "Maybe she can try this."More Info
After the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse allegations, Tarantino cut ties with Weinstein and sought a new distributor, after having worked with Weinstein for his entire career. At this point, Leonardo DiCaprio was revealed to be among a short list of actors Tarantino was considering for the film. A short time later, reports circulated that studios were bidding for the film set in Los Angeles in the late 1960s, that Tom Cruise was in talks for one of the leads, and that David Heyman had joined as a producer, along with Tarantino and Shannon McIntosh. Tarantino later revealed the role Cruise was considered for to be that of Cliff Booth.More Info
Music by Bernard Herrmann created for Torn Curtain is used in the Spahn Ranch scene. Herrman's music from that film included in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is "The Killing", and "The Radiogram". Other music of his used is "The Rocks", and "The Return" (from Have Gun Will Travel). Also used are the themes from Hell River by Vojislav Borisavljevic, Against a Crooked Sky by Alexis de Azevedo, Apocalypse Joe by Bruno Nicolai, and Mannix by Lalo Schifrin. Also, "Paxton Quigley's Had the Course" (from Three in the Attic), "The Bed" by Ennio Morricone (from Danger: Diabolik), "Ecce Homo" (from Sartana Does Not Forgive) and "Mexican Western" (from Any Gun Can Play) by Francesco De Masi, "Cooler" by Elmer Bernstein (from The Great Escape), "Freya Bangs", "Freya", "Karate Dance", and "TV Screen" (from The Wrecking Crew), "Theme from It's Happening" by Paul Revere & the Raiders, "Dalton Gang Ride Entrance" performed by Tom Slocum, John Bird, and the Cattle Annie Band (from Cattle Annie and Little Britches), the "Batman Theme" (from Batman), the "FBI Theme and Score Cues" (from The F.B.I.), and "Miss Lilly Langtry" and "Judge Roy Bean's Theme" by Maurice Jarre (from The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean).More Info
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