In Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, it’s no shock that Quentin Tarantino captured the aesthetics of his adolescence so accurately. He grew up as that film guru at the video store everyone who was born before Netflix depended on through their 20s. His keen attention to detail and subtle nuances denote a director who not only loves film, but also the livelihoods they capture, and he explains this personal connection to his latest film in the featurette “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – A Love Letter to Making Movies.”
The half-hour featurette includes interviews with Brad Pitt, Kurt Russell, David Heyman, Nicholas Hammond, Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie and more. Tarantino took care to explain his thought process behind selecting his team, and details why DiCaprio and Robbie were optimal choices for their parts. Between the actors, director and production, everyone had great things to say about the others’ creative process. Robbie gave a response about Tarantino’s immersion in 1969 Hollywood that echoed ideas expressed by Pitt and DiCaprio:
I don’t think I’ve ever felt so transported as I did on Quentin’s set because everything’s practical, it’s not just foreground of props and setting and then the rest is gonna be blue screen and green screen, we’ll do it later. It’s all 1969 around you, he’s playing music from the 1960s, and it was honestly, I felt like I was there, it was incredible.
In the film, DiCaprio undertook a classic meta archetype: an actor playing an actor. He offers professional insight on how he approached the role and constructed this character. It’s interesting to hear how an accomplished actor reverts back into a small-timer, and what’s particularly notable is the dialogue between DiCaprio and Tarantino during the interview. Their interactions display how open their relationship is, and the respect they had for each other’s work. Dicaprio had ideas for his character that would benefit the movie, and Tarantino received them in a way that was symbiotic for the entire production.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is up for 10 awards at this year’s Oscars, with the ceremony set for Feb. 9. Paste ranked the film as one of 2019’s best.
Watch the featurette from Sony Pictures below.