Quentin Tarantino and Leonardo DiCaprio Reveal Key Details About Their Manson Murders Movie

It’s clear by now that Quentin Tarantino isn’t afraid of diving into some pretty gruesome stories, and his next project only further confirms it. In July 2017, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Tarantino is in the early stages of putting together a film described as “a unique take on the Manson Family murders.” Here are the scraps of information we’ve been able to pull together so far:

The Production Team

The drama, which would be his follow-up to 2015’s The Hateful Eight, will be called Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and a source confirmed that Tarantino both penned the script for Sony and will direct. The movie is being produced by Tarantino, Harry Potter‘s David Heyman, and Shannon McIntosh, with Georgia Kacandes serving as executive producer.

The Cast

On the casting front, THR confirmed that Inglourious Basterds alum Brad Pitt will play stunt double Cliff Booth, and longtime Tarantino collaborator Samuel L. Jackson will likely play a lead in the film as well, Deadline reports. Jennifer Lawrence has also been approached, but apparently she’s not being considered for the role of Sharon Tate (the pregnant actress murdered by members of Charles Manson’s cult). Instead, it seems Tarantino has his eye on Margot Robbie for that role. Hopefully they can finagle the movie’s production schedule around her work in the upcoming Harley Quinn spin-off, because she seems like a spot-on choice.

Although Tom Cruise is reportedly still being considered for Manson, THR revealed that Leonardo DiCaprio will be playing the role of struggling actor Rick Dalton (Pitt’s character is his stunt double). According to Tarantino, “Both are struggling to make it in a Hollywood they don’t recognize anymore. But Rick has a very famous next-door neighbor . . . Sharon Tate.” The decision seems pretty fitting, considering how great DiCaprio and Tarantino worked together on 2012’s Django Unchained. We can bet he’ll deliver a standout performance. After all, it will be the actor’s first film since winning an Oscar for The Revenant in 2016.

In a statement, Tarantino said, “I’ve been working on this script for five years, as well as living in Los Angeles County most of my life, including in 1969, when I was seven years old. I’m very excited to tell this story of an LA and a Hollywood that don’t exist anymore. And I couldn’t be happier about the dynamic teaming of DiCaprio & Pitt as Rick & Cliff.”

The Story

Script details are still very much under wraps, but the script is a “Pulp Fiction-esque movie set during the time of the Manson murder spree in Los Angeles,” according to Deadline. That definitely makes it seem like the infamous murder itself will be more of a backdrop to the actual story, even if Sharon Tate and Charles Manson make appearances. At CinemaCon in April 2018, Tarantino revealed the film will take place in Hollywood in the year 1969, and will be filmed in LA over the Summer.

“It takes place at the height of the counter-culture explosion, at the height of the hippie revolution and at the height of a new Hollywood,” he explained. “During this Summer, we will, little by little, street by street, block by block, transform Los Angeles into the psychedelic era of Hollywood in 1969.”

For context, Tate, the Hollywood actress and pregnant wife of famed (and disgraced) director Roman Polanski, was brutally murdered by the followers of cult leader Manson in August 1969. Tate and four other people — Wojciech Frykowski, Abigail Folger, Jay Sebring, and Steven Parent — were staying at Polanski’s LA home in Benedict Canyon when Manson followers Tex Watson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Linda Kasabian broke in and savagely murdered them with guns and knives. Tate was eight months pregnant at the time, adding an even more tragic touch to the already disturbing case.

A few months later, Manson and his followers were arrested for auto theft, including Atkins, who later told her cellmate that she was responsible for Tate’s death “because we wanted to do a crime that would shock the world, that the world would have to stand up and take notice.” By 1971, Manson and a few members of his following were sentenced to life in prison for the Benedict Canyon murders.

The Premiere Date

Deadline reports that Once Upon a Time in Hollywood will hit theaters on Aug. 9, 2019, which is the 50th anniversary of Sharon Tate’s death. Talk about macabre.

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