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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Quentin Tarantino says Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is "the closest thing I’ve done to Pulp Fiction

Illustration for article titled Quentin Tarantino says Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is "the closest thing I’ve done to Pulp Fiction”
Photo: Marc Piasecki (Getty Images)

Lucky audiences in France have spent the day making us jealous with their takes on Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, which just saw its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. Our own dispatch is coming soon, but, in the meantime, we’ll direct you to a fascinating new Esquire interview about the film with the director and two of its stars, Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio. There, you’ll find an abundance of new plot details—if that’s of interest to you—as well as some breezy musings on Hollywood, the streaming age, and how the film’s themes reflect their own journeys.

“This film is the closest thing I’ve done to Pulp Fiction,” Tarantino tells the magazine’s Michael Hainey, who says that, while he can’t reveal what that means in terms of “tone and feel,” translates to a vast ensemble and slew of storylines that intersect and intertwine in surprising ways. Tarantino also calls it “my memory piece,” adding, “Alfonso [Cuarón] had Roma and Mexico City, 1970. I had L. A. and 1969. This is me. This is the year that formed me. I was six years old then. This is my world. And this is my love letter to L.A.”

DiCaprio, whose Rick Dalton is described as a “poor man’s [Steve] McQueen,” sums it up thusly:

I don’t think there’s been a Hollywood film like this—and by that I mean a film set in Hollywood and about Hollywood—which gets its nails dirty, getting into the everyday life of an actor and his stunt double. 1969 is a seminal time in cinema history as well as in the world. Rick and Cliff, they’re part of the old guard in Hollywood, but they’re also trying to navigate this new world of the hippie revolution and free love. I loved the idea of taking on this struggling actor who is trying to find his footing in this new world. And his pal who he’s been with through all these wars in Hollywood. Quentin so brilliantly captures what’s going on in the changing of America but also through these characters’ eyes how Hollywood was changing. It was captivating when I first read it. The characters had the imprint of Quentin’s immense knowledge of cinema history. You are in awe of the detail, and you know it’s fucking authentic. [Laughs.]


Tarantino also touches on Charles Manson, who plays a major role in the film—the story takes place across three days, the last of which being August 8, the day of the Tate murders—calling the man a “deadly virus” that infects the world of the film.

There’s plenty of other choice tidbits, from the revelation that Tarantino spent five years developing the story as a novel to Pitt cracking a joke about his “boner pants.” Read it in full here.

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.

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