In a brief interview with USA Today‘s Brian Truitt, Quentin Tarantino riffs on Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), the lead characters in Once Upon A Time in Hollywood (Sony, 7.26).
In so doing Tarantino (a) gives props to HE’s theory that Dalton is largely based upon Burt Reynolds circa 1969 (and not so much Clint Eastwood) and (b) hints that the “deadly” Booth will violently settle some business, most likely during the third act.
According to Tarantino, Dalton is “a man full of inner turmoil and self-pity for not being in a better position, career-wise. But as is Rick’s way, he blames everybody but himself.”
That’s Reynolds, all right. He belly-ached a lot in the late ’60s about how he couldn’t break into A-level features, and then, when he was a big shot, about how he couldn’t land leads in prestige-level, Oscar-calibre films. Eastwood sure as hell wasn’t complaining in the late ’60s. In ’68 and ’69 he was building his brand with Hang ‘Em High, Coogan’s Bluff, Where Eagles Dare and Paint Your Wagon.
Somewhat curiously, Tarantino describes Booth as an “indestructible World War II hero” and one of the “deadliest guys alive” who “could kill you with a spoon, a piece of paper, or a business card. Consequently, he is a rather Zen dude who is troubled by very little.”
Okay, but how and why would an indestructible killing machine figure into a film that’s allegedly focused on hippy-dippy, head-in-the-clouds, peace-and-love-beads Hollywood? Why bring up killing at all when the 1969 Hollywood milieu was all about getting high and flashing the peace sign and reading passages from the Bhagavad Gita? Exactly — at a crucial moment Cliff will somehow go up against some folks who need to be corrected or otherwise interfered with — i.e., the Manson family.