Quentin Tarantino Reveals What Happened to Rick Dalton After ‘Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood’

Quentin Tarantino isn’t planning a sequel to “Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood” but he has an elaborate story about what happened to Leonardo DiCaprio’s character….

Quentin Tarantino has never been in the sequel business (“Kill Bill” was one massive film split into two parts) and it’s not likely he’s going to start with “Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood” but he definitely has ideas about what happened to those characters.

Particularly, the Academy Award nominated writer and director has established an elaborate idea about what would happen to Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Rick Dalton in the wake of his heroics at the end of the film.

Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen “Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood”…

Teaming up with his best friend Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), Dalton helps stop the attacking Manson family as the sought to butcher Sharon Tate, who was pregnant with her husband Roman Polanski’s baby. The fantasy tale sees the Manson family attack Rick’s house instead of Tate’s — he lived next door — and he finishes off the psychopathic group with a flamethrower he made famous in one of his films. The movie ends with Rick being invited to join Sharon and her friends for a drink behind their gated walls.

The happy ending still left questions about what would happen to Rick Dalton after he had largely squandered his career following a successful run on television and then failing to capture the same kind of attention when he tried to transition to films. While he was able to gain some recognition while doing movies in Europe, Rick had largely been forgotten as a viable commodity in Hollywood.

The incident where he fries up the Manson family would certainly gain Rick some much needed exposure and Tarantino says that would have then parlayed into a relaunch of his acting career.

“The whole incident with the flamethrower and the hippies got a lot of play,” Tarantino told The Wrap. “No one quite knows what a big deal that was, but it was still a big deal. And it’s a big deal that he killed ‘em with the flamethrower, with the prop from one of his most popular movies. So he starts becoming in demand again. I mean, not in demand like Michael Sarrazin at that time was in demand, but he’s got some publicity and now all of a sudden “The 14 Fists of McCluskey” is playing more on Channel 5 during Combat Week and stuff. And so he gets offered a couple of features — low-budget ones, but studio ones.
“But the thing is, on the episodic-TV circuit, he’s a bigger name now. He’s not quite Darren McGavin, all right? Darren McGavin would get paid the highest you could get paid as a guest star back in that time. But Rick’s about where John Saxon was, maybe just a little bit higher. So he’s getting good money and doing the best shows. And the episodes are all built around him.
So as opposed to doing ‘Land of the Giants’ and ‘Bingo Martin,’ now he’s the bad guy on ‘Mission: Impossible,’ and it’s his episode.
“Oh, and he does a Vince Edwards show, ‘Matt Lincoln.’ Or a Glenn Ford show, ‘Cade’s County.’ And that’s a big deal, ’cause he did ‘Hell-Fire Texas’ with Glenn Ford and they didn’t really get along. But now they bury the hatchet and they make a big deal about the two guys doing it together. And then he does a couple of Paul Wendkos’ TV movies. And you know, he’s doing OK.”

While Tarantino is well known for grim endings for many of the lead characters in his films, it seems he intended on a happy exit for Rick Dalton in the wake of his heroics in “Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood.” Considering Tarantino’s well known passion for films and the film industry, it feels like “Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood” really could be his favorite film from all the ones he’s made during his illustrious career.

Tarantino will now join DiCaprio and Pitt at the 2020 Oscars where “Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood” is up for a slew of awards including Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Film of the Year.

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