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Crime News

Here's What We Know So Far About Quentin Tarantino's Charles Manson Movie

Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio cast for "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood," which involves the Sharon Tate murder.


By Eric Shorey
A Short History of Charles Manson

Quentin Tarantino has hinted at a possible biopic telling the story of Roman Polanski and his connection to the notorious Charles Manson family murders for years. Now, as the project slowly becomes a reality, a wave of criticism has befallen the film amidst growing concerns voiced about the ethics of the auteur behind it. Some recent casting decisions pertaining to the movie have been made, showing that despite criticism, the project is moving forward.

Tarantino has cast both Brad Pitt and Leondardo DiCaprio in leading roles. Pitt will play Cliff Booth, a stunt double for former Western TV star Rick Dalton, who will be played by DiCaprio, according to Deadline

"Both [Booth and Dalton] are struggling to make it in a Hollywood they don’t recognize anymore. But Rick has a very famous next-door neighbor…Sharon Tate," reads the official synopsis, according to Deadline.

The film's title has officially been announced as "Once Upon A Time In Hollywood." The story "takes place in Los Angeles in 1969, at the height of hippy Hollywood," according to the synopsis.

Sony Pictures obtained the rights to the film in the wake of the collapse of The Weinstein Company.

Tarantino had previously asked Margot Robbie to play Tate, according to Deadline. Tom Cruise had been briefly considered for a leading role in the film, as well.

The idiosyncratically cinephilic filmmaker had discussed his devotion to this project in the past.

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," said Tarantino of the script, according to Deadline.

Tarantino's personal beliefs and his shifting stance on sexual assault have caused a critical re-evaluation of his work and have cast a shadow over "Once Upon a Time In Hollywood."

One of Tarantino's former leading ladies, Uma Thurman, described some of the director's unsafe and morally questionable practices behind-the-scenes in a recent New York Times OpEd, prompting some activists to call for his new film to be abandoned. 

This feels epic. I think people are really disgusted,” said Melissa Silverstein, founder and publisher of Women and Hollywoodto The Guardian.

Critics revisiting Tarantino's filmography are now reconsidering the extent to which any of his films could be viewed as empowering for women, casting further doubt on his ability to tell the story of Sharon Tate with empathy or tact.

"Knowing that Tarantino was profoundly abusive to a woman who was supposedly his creative collaborator, it’s hard not to see this smirking misogyny for what it really is—another damn dirty bastard getting his rocks off on a woman’s suffering," wrote Laura Bogart for Dame Magazine.

Tarantino has since apologized for his behavior towards Thurman, describing the situation as  "the biggest regret of my life," according to Deadline.

Around the same time as Thurman's testimony was published, a quote from Tarantino, in which he appeared to defend Polanski over rape accusations, began circulating.

He didn’t rape a 13-year-old. It was statutory rape ... he had sex with a minor. That’s not rape. To me, when you use the word rape, you’re talking about violent, throwing them down—it’s like one of the most violent crimes in the world. You can’t throw the word rape around," Tarantino had said in a 2003 Howard Stern interview.

He later apologized for those comments.

"Fifteen years later, I realize how wrong I was ... I was ignorant, and insensitive, and above all, incorrect," he said, according to Indiewire.


[Photo: Getty Images]