Quentin Tarantino on why his favourite ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ scene was deleted
(Credit: Netflix)


Quentin Tarantino on why his favourite ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ scene was deleted

Though they cover hundreds of years and disparate themes, the films of Quentin Tarantino maintain a distinctive texture unique to the director. His trademark ingredients of dark comedy, exaggerated violence and recurring A-listers never fail to draw in his vast global fandom. 

Tarantino has long maintained that he would make a total of ten movies. During a 2022 interview with CNN, the filmmaker revealed why. “Well, I’ve been doing it for a long time,” he said. “I’ve been doing it for 30 years, and it’s, it’s time to wrap up the show. Like I said, I’m an entertainer. I want to leave you wanting more, you know, and not just work, and I don’t want to work to diminishing returns. I don’t want to be… one, I don’t want to become this old man who’s out of touch when already I’m feeling a bit like an old man out of touch when it comes to the current movies that are out right now. And that’s what happens.”

In 2019, Tarantino released his ninth movie (by counting the two Kill Bill volumes as one film), Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Set in 1960s Hollywood, the film follows the story of Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Rick Dalton and his stunt double, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), as they grapple with the pressures of the film industry and a group of Manson Family members. 

Tarantino has never been one to worry about his films taking up too much time, given how Kill Bill was extremely close to being released as one four-hour epic. Despite Once Upon a Time in Hollywood clocking in at a hefty 160 minutes, Tarantino laments a scene he described as his personal “favourite”, which somehow didn’t make it to the final cut. 

In the scripted scene, Dalton and Trudi Fraser (portrayed by Julia Butters), the young girl he befriends on the set of Lancer, have a phone conversation that gets very emotional. In a 2021 interview on CinemaBlend’s ReelBlend podcast, Tarantino explained why he adored the scene. “That was my favourite scene in the script,” he said. “So the idea that that wouldn’t be in the movie was unfathomable. That was my favourite scene in the script; I think it was probably Leo’s favourite scene that he shot. We were in tears. It was the only time… I’ve gotten misty-eyed every once in a while when I was shooting this scene versus that scene. But that thing, I mean, Julia [Butters] was in tears every time we finished every take. We were just really proud of that sequence.”

The Pulp Fiction mastermind continued, explaining why the scene was ultimately omitted from the movie. “The reason it’s not in the film is – it’s a two-fold one,” he began. “It seems like an ending to the movie. Which actually was okay in the script because in the script, I looked at everything that happens in February as part of a three-act structure. And then the stuff that happens on the night of the murder as an epilogue. But that was the wrong way to think about it. Once we started putting the movie together, the stuff that happens in August isn’t an epilogue. It’s the third act. We’ve got to look at it that way. And so, they pulled off the scene. The scene is terrific. It’s not about them. But when we really worked on assembly… we realised after the Spahn Ranch, that ends the February section.”

“There’s no coming back from that,” Tarantino concluded. “That is the ending of that. And now we can’t just end it with the Spahn Ranch. So the idea is, after Spahn Ranch, we have to wrap up February as soon as we possibly can. And then once we do, then we go into August.”

Watch Quentin Tarantino and Leonardo DiCaprio break down the character Rick Dalton in a Vanity Fair feature below.