As the Tate party enters the El Coyote restaurant for dinner, Sharon Tate and Jay Sebring discuss a movie premiere they can see taking place further down Beverly Blvd. at an erotic movie theatre. "They have premieres for dirty movies?" asks Sharon. The theatre in question is the Eros, a real adult theatre of the time. The building still exists, though it is now a repertory cinema called The New Beverly, and it is owned by Quentin Tarantino.
Very rare for a Quentin Tarantino film, some scenes contained improvisation, particularly when Rick Dalton forgets his lines in "Lancer" and rants to himself privately in his trailer afterwards. 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.
Originally skeptical of the project, Sharon Tate's sister Debra Tate gave the film and Margot's portrayal of Sharon her blessing after Debra was embraced by Tarantino himself and became aware of how her sister would be represented within the film. Debra referred to Margot as a "dedicated craftsman," and praised the actress's research of Sharon prior to meeting with her.
This is Luke Perry's last film. Perry suffered a massive stroke in late February 2019, and died March 4th. Scott Lancer is a homage to Wayne Maunder and his role in Lancer (1968). Maunder died on November 11, 2018, ten days after filming wrapped on this movie.
One of the Italian films that Rick stars in is directed by Antonio Margheriti; in Inglourious Basterds (2009), "Antonio Margheriti" is the alias used by Donny Donowitz to sneak into the premiere of "Nation's Pride".
The producers had some initial difficulties convincing Hollywood Boulevard vendors to allow their premises to be fitted with period facades to better reflect the 1960s, but after the production wrapped that section of the shoot, most of these same people asked if they could leave the facades in place, since they now preferred that period 'look' much more.
In one scene, a framed issue of MAD Magazine is visible in Dalton's apartment, with a drawing of Dalton himself on the cover. As a tie-in with the movie, MAD Magazine printed that issue as a full-length magazine, billing it as a "Special Tarantino Time-Warp Issue". It includes a full-length comic book parody of "Bounty Law", and all of the jokes are written with period-appropriate references to the 1960s.
For the character of Sharon Tate, Quentin Tarantino did not approach Roman Polanski, he admitted at the press conference in Cannes. But Tarantino asked for and received help from Sharon Tate's sister Debra, who is thanked in the credits. Also he gave Debra Tate a script to read early on, went to visit her in Santa Barbara and spent a weekend with her. She even came on set when the Bruin [Theatre in Westwood] sequence was being shot.
Before the film's world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, Quentin Tarantino begged from Cannes crowds to avoid spoilers for later audiences in a statement on social media. "I love cinema, You love cinema. It's the journey of discovering a story for the first time. I'm thrilled to be here in Cannes to share 'Once Upon A Time...in Hollywood' with the festival audience. The cast and crew have worked so hard to create something original, and I only ask that everyone avoids revealing anything that would prevent later audiences from experiencing the film in the same way. Thank you."
When Charles Manson goes to the Polanski house and Jay tells him that at Terry and Candy aren't there. He was talking about Doris Day's son record producer Terry Melcher and his then girlfriend actress Candice Bergen.
In an unprecedented film production move, a section of L.A.'s Hollywood Freeway (US-101) was completely shut down from 12pm to 2 pm for a sequence populated with period cars. No VFX were used to create this sequence.
Quentin Tarantino was scheduled to make the film for The Weinstein Company. When the sexual assault allegations against co-chairman Harvey Weinstein were revealed in the press, Tarantino severed ties with The Weinstein Company and began summoning studio executives to his agent's office to read copies of his Manson script. The project was already one of the most anticipated and promising projects on the board at the time. After reading the script, Warner Bros., Universal Pictures, Sony Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Annapurna Pictures, and Lionsgate were welcome to make a bid for the theatrical right before a second round of bids pitched to Tarantino himself. Sony won the theatrical rights in the bidding war.
Margot Robbie accidentally took home one of Quentin Tarantino's "on-the-day" shot lists from one of her days of filming. She discovered it months later and was afraid to say anything in case Quentin asked for it back. When she revealed this to Quentin, he told her he practically throws them away when he's done with them, and offered her many more.
For Tarantino, Sharon Tate has an angelic presence throughout the movie. He even considers Tate an angelic ghost on earth, with Tarantino's own words, "to some degree, she's not in the movie, she's in our hearts".
This film was originally scheduled to be released on August 9, 2019, the 50th anniversary of the murder of Sharon Tate and friends by members of Charles Manson's 'Family,' before Sony changed the release date to July 26, 2019. Joan Didion in her collection of essays titled "White Album" theorized that August 9, 1969 was the day the 'Hippie' movement, the free love era, and the 1960s as a whole came to an abrupt end as a result of these murders.
In the movie they show James Stacy leaving the set of Lancer on his motorcycle. On September 27, 1973, Stacy was taking his girlfriend Claire Cox for a ride on his motorcycle in the Hollywood Hills when a drunken driver struck them. She died and Stacy lost his left arm and leg.
The casting of Kurt Russell and Zoe Bell as the man and wife stunt coordinators on The Green Hornet is a double inside joke to Tarantino's films. Russell previously played "Stuntman Mike" in Death Proof, in which Bell, a real-life stunt performer, also appeared playing herself.
When Cliff Booth is goading Bruce Lee into a fight, he refers to Lee as a dancer. This is probably a reference to the fact that in addition to his martial arts prowess, Bruce Lee was an accomplished dancer, and was the Cha Cha champion of Hong Kong in 1958.
During the mid-credits Red Apple Tobacco commercial, Rick Dalton says, "Take a bite and feel all right." Quentin Tarantino previously used this phrase in his published screenplay for From Dusk Till Dawn (1996); it is spoken by Seth Gecko (George Clooney) during that film's climactic fight, but was not included in the final cut.
This the first of Quentin Tarantino's films in which Michael Madsen plays a character who doesn't die. Madsen claimed that after filming "The Hateful Eight" (2015), he jokingly complained to Tarantino about how every character he has him play ends up dying. Tarantino gave him a brief cameo in this film as a response.
Rick Dalton is portrayed as a Steve McQueen wannabe. Rick Dalton starred in the fictional 1950's western TV series "Bounty Law," while Steve McQueen starred in the actual 1950's western TV series, Wanted: Dead or Alive (1958), which was about a bounty hunter. In his final film The Hunter (1980), McQueen played real-life bounty hunter Ralph Thorson.
The real Antonio Margheriti (fictionally credited as the director of Rick Dalton's film Operation Dyn-O-Mite), was a major influence on Quentin Tarantino. He was previously referenced in Tarantino's film Inglourious Basterds as the undercover Italian name used by Donny Donowitz.
British Chinese martial arts actor and choreographer J. Cheung was offered the role of Bruce Lee, but turned it down, citing its lack of respect to Bruce Lee and his spirit. Cheung had previously turned down the role of Bruce Lee in "Birth of the Dragon' for similar reasons.
On Sunday night, Rick and Cliff sit down to watch "Rick's episode" of The F.B.I. (1965). The audience is later told that the episode is The F.B.I.: All the Streets Are Silent (1965). That is a real episode of the television show, and the ensuing clip is the actual opening to that episode, with one important difference - Rick Dalton has been edited into the place of the guest star villain, "Michael Murtaugh." In reality, the role of Murtaugh in the episode was played by Burt Reynolds. This likely also explains the gum chewing that Rick and Cliff refer to as "a nice touch."
Brad Pitt was reportedly in talks for an unspecified role in the film, which was rumoured 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. Tarantino then tried to consider Tom Cruise for a role as many assume it was the same role (its 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, the role was confirmed for being the stuntman character, Cliff Booth which Pitt would sign on to do.
At the film's world premiere screening at the Cannes film festival, the scene where Brad Pitt, 55, takes off his shirt to show off his still muscular stuntman physique, drew gasps and spontaneous applause from the audience, as reported by the BBC and Indiewire.
Award-winning cinematographer Robert Richardson has said that one of the most gratifying experiences for him on the shoot was filming Al Pacino for the very first time. He'd seen all Pacino's films, but having the rare opportunity to shoot him with Brad and Leonardo in the same space was a milestone in his career.
Leonardo DiCaprio was courted for several months to take on one of the two primary characters in the film. The role was revealed to be the character of Rick Dalton, a washed up former television western star, which DiCaprio would eventually be convinced to sign on for his second collaboration with Quentin Tarantino. Their prior collaboration between them was for Django Unchained (2012).
When Sharon goes to the Bruin theatre to see the film she is in, a poster of "The Mercenary" can be seen. "The Mercenary" starred Franco Nero who sat alongside Jamie Foxx at the bartop in Django Unchained. Franco Nero was the original Django.
For Tarantino, Rick Dalton is not any one person, because Tarantino made a conscious effort not to do that. Dalton is a little bit of Edd Byrnes, Ty Hardin - the man who would be McQueen - a little William Shatner.
Initially Leonardo DiCaprio was scheduled to sing either "Green Door" (a 1956 hit for radio personality Jim Lowe), or Cole Porter's "Don't Fence Me In" (popularized by singing cowboy Roy Rogers). They went with "Green Door" in the end.
Damien Lewis, who plays Steve McQueen, was the star of HBO's Band of Brothers. When being cast for Band of Brothers, the casting agent thought he looked like a young Steve McQueen as mentioned in the DVD extras for that show.
Rumors have circulated that Jennifer Lawrence was being considered for the role of Manson Family member Susan Atkins. In 2014, Quentin Tarantino considered Lawrence for the role of Daisy Domergue in The Hateful Eight (2015), which ultimately went to Jennifer Jason Leigh. In interviews around that film's release date, Tarantino described Daisy as "a Manson girl out West, like Susan Atkins or something", suggesting that Tarantino has imagined Lawrence in mind for a part like this for some time.
The character "Francesca Cappucci" was most likely named after a real-life Los Angeles media personality who gained notoriety in the 80s and 90s, first as a news reader for radio station KLOS, then as the on-air music reporter for sister station KABC.
Manson follower Nancy Pitman was quoted as saying "We are what you have made us, we were brought up on your TV. We were brought up watching Gunsmoke [and] Have Gun Will Travel". Both of these shows were prime time, long running Western TV shows and Tarantino's film follows a faded Western TV star during the Charles Manson killings of 1969.
The Cannes premiere of the film made such a splash that a large number of people, including film executives, weren't able to get in. Journalists queued for two hours before the film's 4:30 p.m. press screening. When the attendants came to the entrance barrier at the theater at about 3:50 p.m. to start admitting attendees, a round of applause went up from some in the crowd. The crush and jostle to get in became such a heaving mess of sharp elbows that the staffers had to admonish people not to push their way into the theater.
In the scene at Spahn Ranch the name Randi Starr can be seen as a sign on the main street buildings. Starr was a real ranch hand and stunt man who worked at the ranch. He died during the Tate La Bianca trial.
On June 12, 2018, moviegoers were surprised to see that scheduled 70mm screenings of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) inside the legendary Cinerama Dome appeared to suddenly been replaced by another film from that period, Krakatoa: East of Java (1968) In fact, 2001 had been relocated to another screen inside the ArcLight Hollywood and the marquees for Krakatoa: East of Java were part of the second unit work required for Once Upon a Time in... Hollywood (2019) to recreate the look of 1969 Los Angeles.
Shannon Lee, daughter of legend Bruce Lee, was most disappointed with the way her father was portrayed by actor Mike Moh under Quentin Tarantino's direction. She felt he was sorely misrepresented as an arrogant blowhard who was full of hot air.
At one point, a theater marquee can be seen advertising a movie which is Rated "M." Contrary to popular believe, this does NOT mean "Adults Only" or "Mature Audiences Only." The original MPAA ratings for film content, which would have come into effect not long before the time the film is set, were G (General Audiences, still in use today), M, R (Restricted, still in use today), and X (Adults Only). As the M rating confused audiences (they didn't know if an M or an R movie was stronger in its content), the M rating was eventually changed to GP, and not long thereafter, to PG (Parental Guidance Suggested), which is still in use today. Long story short, the M rating is the earliest incarnation of the PG rating, and most certainly DOES NOT mean "Mature Audiences Only!"
Cinematographer Robert Richardson has previously worked on three films starring actor Leonardo DiCaprio. The Aviator (2004), Shutter Island (2010), Django Unchained (2012). The former two were directed by Martin Scorsese, while the latter and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood are films by Quentin Tarantino.
Pan American Airlines is featured multiple times during the film. Leonardo DiCaprio previously played Frank Abagnale, a fraud artist who posed as a Pan Am pilot, in Catch Me If You Can (2002). Margot Robbie played a flight attendant in the 2011 television series Pan Am (2011).
This will be the first film starring both Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt. At one point when Good Will Hunting was making the rounds to get produced, all the studios and directors wanted "Leo and Brad" to star in it, a film since starring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. Damon would subsequently go on to work with Leonardo DiCaprio in The Departed and Brad Pitt in the Ocean's Eleven trilogy as well as cameo together in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. The last two of which co-starred George Clooney, who co-starred with Quentin Tarantino in From Dusk Till Dawn, which Tarantino wrote.
KHJ radio advertisements are spread throughout the movie. When Cliff (Pitt) picks up Dalton (DiCaprio) from the day of shooting on "Lancer" the building seen in the background is the former headquarters of KHJ radios. It is now part of the Paramount Studios Complex.
The Cannes premiere of the film drew stars from all over the world, including Zhang Ziyi, Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna, Lea Seydoux, Tilda Swinton, Guillaume Canet, Gilles Lellouche, Xavier Dolan, Dakota Fanning, Adrien Brody and Michelle Rodriguez.
Damon Herriman and Timothy Olyphant were both on Justified (2010). They co-starred on that show with Walton Goggins, who had previously worked with director Quentin Tarantino on Django Unchained (2012) and The Hateful Eight (2015). Another co-star on that show, Jeremy Davies, had previously played Charles Manson in the 2004 TV movie Helter Skelter.
In one of the clips from Rick Dalton's past movies, the 14 Fists of McCluskey, he is seen wearing an eyepatch on his left eye. Kurt Russell, who plays Randy in this film, starred as left-eyepatch-wearer Snake Plissken in Escape from New York and Escape From L.A.
When Michelle Philips, a member of the Mamas and the Papas, arrives at the Playboy Mansion party, she is seen meeting up with her band mate, Cass. (The band's song California Dreamin' later turns up on the soundtrack, albeit not their version.)
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
When Sharon goes to a showing of her movie The Wrecking Crew (1968) the filmmakers chose to use the actual film, rather than recreating the scenes with Robbie. The real Sharon Tate briefly appears onscreen.
Donald "Shorty" Shea was a stuntman who worked on the Spahn Ranch. He was the final victim of the Manson Family, and tried to warn Spahn about being taken advantage of by Manson and his followers. In this movie, Brad Pitt's Cliff Booth is a stuntman who, while visiting the Spahn Ranch, seeks his old acquaintance Spahn to find out about the hippies.
Director's trademark: Mexican standoff. Many Tarantino films have featured Mexican standoffs (scenes where characters point guns at each other at the same time). This film has one too, but with a twist: Rex points his revolver at a stoned Cliff, who responds by making a mock gun with his hand and pointing it back at Rex.
When the narrator is listing Rick's Italian films, he mentions one by a director called Antonio Margheriti. In Inglourious Basterds (2008), during the film premier for Nation's Pride, Donny Donowitz tells Hans Landa that his name is Antonio Margheriti.
When Cliff recognizes the Manson Family members from his visit to the Spahn Ranch, he can't remember Tex Watson's name. Tex responds saying, "I'm the devil, and I came to do the devil's business." The real-life Tex Watson said this exact phrase to the victims at Sharon Tate's house before they were murdered.