The first thing you need to know about Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood is that it is not a Charles Manson-murders movie, according to producer David Heyman.
“That’s one of the big misconceptions to clarify,” he tells EW. As part of EW’s Summer Movie Preview, Heyman and producer Shannon McIntosh, who’s worked with Tarantino for more than two decades, cleared up some mystery around the plot of Tarantino’s anticipated movie and teased some intriguing details.
Set in 1969, Once Upon a Time brings together Leonardo DiCaprio as fading Western TV star Rick Dalton and Brad Pitt as his stunt double Cliff Booth, two friends navigating an industry and era in flux, painstakingly re-created on location in Los Angeles by Tarantino. But Charles Manson and his deadly cult do play an important role in the film; Australian actor Damon Herriman plays the infamous cult leader, while Margaret Qualley, Dakota Fanning, and Lena Dunham play members of his Manson Family.
“It’s about the loss of innocence that came about in 1969 with the Manson family,” explains McIntosh. There’s the starry Margot Robbie as It Girl and eventual ?Manson-family victim Sharon Tate, who lives next door to Rick. “It’s the three classes of Hollywood,” says Heyman. “There’s the high Hollywood of Sharon, the declining star of Rick, and there’s Cliff, who lives farther out and with more humble means.”