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Who's who in Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood


Everyone loves a film about filmmaking, especially when a celebrated director like Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained) is at the helm.

His latest project, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, remains somewhat mysterious. Originally conceived as a film focused on the notorious 1969 Manson family murders, it's thought that Once Upon a Time in Hollywood will instead explore the wider context of Tinseltown, rather than focus exclusively on the crime.

The main story, or at least one of them, revolves around actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his friend Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) who are looking for new opportunities in Hollywood around the time the Manson family went on the rampage. The storyline of course means that real-life figures, as well as fictional ones, will intertwine throughout the narrative.

With the film due for release in July 2019, here is a roundup of all the real (and make-believe) characters featuring in Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Leonardo DiCaprio is Rick Dalton

Oscar winner Leonardo DiCaprio portrays fictional character Rick Dalton, who is a struggling actor after success in TV series Bounty Law. Dalton wants to break into film and is eager to try something new, something that takes him to the home of the Spaghetti Western – Italy. Dalton is a neighbour of Sharon Tate, the actress who in reality was brutally murdered by Charles Manson's 'disciples'.

DiCaprio was of course in Tarantino's Django Unchained, giving a memorably vile performance as racist slave owner Calvin Candie, so this is a reunion we can't wait to see.

Brad Pitt is Cliff Booth

Playing Dalton's friend and stunt double Cliff Booth is megastar Brad Pitt, who is also collaborating with Tarantino for a second time after his role as Nazi-hunting soldier Aldo Raine in Inglourious Basterds. (He also appeared as a stoner in the Tarantino-scripted True Romance way back in 1993.)

Booth is another fictional character, but is nevertheless one of the most significant players in Tarantino's new movie.

Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio in Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Margot Robbie is Sharon Tate

Oscar nominee Margot Robbie (she received her first for this year's blackly comic biopic I, Tonya) is starring in her first Tarantino film as actress and model, Sharon Tate. Tate was married to film director Roman Polanski and was tragically murdered by the Manson family in 1969 while eight and a half months pregnant.

The murder sent shockwaves around Los Angeles and is widely credited with fostering a sense of disillusion in the community, as the hippie days of Flower Power came to an end.

Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate in Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Damian Lewis is Steve McQueen

Legendary actor Steve McQueen, known for The Great Escape, The Magnificent Seven and Bullitt, just had to feature in Tarantino's film about Hollywood. After all, McQueen was close friends with Tate and was in fact invited to her house on the fateful night she was killed, only to pull out at the last minute.

The chiselled movie icon will be portrayed by Damian Lewis (Homeland, Billions).

Emile Hirsch is Jay Sebring

Another one of Manson's victims was Jay Sebring, a famous hairstylist in Hollywood who was friends with Sharon Tate after they had a brief romantic relationship. Sebring was at Tate's house the night of the break in and murder. He's played by Into the Wild actor Emile Hirsch.

Nicholas Hammond is Sam Wanamaker

Sam Wanamaker was a well-known actor, but is most remembered as the man who restored Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London. How Wanamaker links with the storylines in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is unclear, but given Wanamaker was blacklisted in Hollywood, it gives Tarantino plenty of juicy material to draw on.

Al Pacino is Marvin Schwarz

Marvin Schwarz, played by The Godfather and Scarface acting legend Al Pacino, is Dalton and Booth's agent. The prospect of Pacino and Tarantino working together for the first time (Serpico meets Pulp Fiction – imagine the possibilities) will surely be one of the most significant movie moments of 2019.

Mike Moh is Bruce Lee

Iconic actor Bruce Lee revolutionised the concept of martial arts in cinema, bringing the genre to Hollywood with the likes of Enter the Dragon. One film he worked on in the late 60s was The Wrecking Crew, which is where he met the ill-fated Sharon Tate.

In Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, he'll be portrayed by actor and martial artist Mike Moh, best known for Marvel TV show Inhumans.

Bruce Dern is George Spahn

The role of George Spahn, the landowner who leased his property to Manson and his followers, was originally meant to go to Burt Reynolds, who passed away mid-2018 before shooting his role.

Bruce Dern has now taken Reynolds's Place. He's Laura Dern's father and a veteran actor known for his collaborations with Tarantino in The Hateful Eight and Django Unchained, plus films like Monster and The Cowboys.

Rafal Zawierucha is Roman Polanski

Controversial, Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski, who was Sharon Tate's husband at the time of her death, will be played in the movie by Rafal Zawierucha. Polankski is known for his films Rosemary's Baby, Chinatown and The Pianist, and was filming in Europe during August 1969 when Tate was murdered.

Damon Herriman is Charles Manson

The notorious criminal and cult leader Charles Manson, who began his 'Manson family' in the 60s, was convicted of first-degree murder for his crimes. Manson is one of the most infamous psychopaths in human history, and will be played by Damon Herriman. Interestingly, Herriman is played Charles Manson again in season 2 of David Fincher's Netflix series Mindhunter.

Dakota Fanning, Lena Dunham, Austin Butler are Manson family members

The Manson family comprised many members, and a lot of them will be featured in the film. Some of the famous faces portraying the notorious rabble include Dakota Fanning (The Runaways and Twilight) as Lynette Fromme (aka Squeaky), Lena Dunham (HBO's Girls) as Catherine 'Gypsy' Share and Austin Butler (The Carrie Diaries) as Charles 'Tex' Watson.

As you can see, that's quite possibly the finest ensemble cast of any movie in 2019. And that's not everyone featuring in the director's latest ensemble epic. Tarantino regulars including Tim Roth, Kurt Russell and Michael Madsen are all set to star, but no details about their roles have been revealed yet.

Don't miss it in cinemas next summer, where you'll be transported back to the 60s and see just what it was like to be an actor in Hollywood.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is released on 26th July 2019 – stay tuned to the blog for the first trailer and tweet us your thoughts on the movie @Cineworld.

Nadine Shambrook is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.