Most of Quentin Tarantino’s new film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is not based on real history. But so many meticulous details in the film are exactly like real life that viewers could be easily confused. Here’s how Once Upon a Time in Hollywood lied to you. Major spoilers ahead!
Apart from the ending, the biggest lie in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was basically the entire story arc. The film tells the tale of Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, Rick Dalton, a washed up cowboy actor who once had his own Western TV show and is now relegated to playing the baddie of the week.
His best friend, handyman, and personal chauffeur is Cliff Booth, played by a weathered-looking Brad Pitt.
Both of these characters are fictional, their story is fictional, and their slight connection to Sharon Tate was nonexistent – because they were nonexistent. And yet, the movie isn’t really about Sharon Tate or the Manson family, it’s about these two inventions of Quentin Tarantino’s mind. The very real characters that occupied Hollywood in the late 1960s are simply woven into Rick and Cliff’s fictional narrative, which makes it difficult to sift the reality out of the rest of the story.
According to Esquire, though, the friendship between Booth and Dalton was loosely based on the relationship between Burt Reynolds and stuntman Hal Needham. Needham, like Pitt’s Booth, was tough, loyal, and unflappable. The two even shared a house for five years and, quote, “never, ever had a cross word.” Incidentally, Reynolds would have had a small part in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, but he died before his scene could be shot.
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Rick and Cliff | 0:17
Movies within movies | 1:39
Shooting in the 60s | 2:26
No Pussycat | 3:13
Polanski and Tate | 4:06
Bruce Lee’s fight | 5:08
Bruce and Jay | 6:19
Nextdoor neighbors | 7:04
Linda didn’t flee | 7:56
Different ending | 8:46