Quentin Tarantino on why the ‘Once Upon A Time’ ending differed from novel

Spoilers ahead, naturally

Quentin Tarantino has revealed why he chose a different ending for the movie version of Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood.

The scene in question, which involved an emotional phone call between DiCaprio’s Rick Dalton and Trudi Fraser (Julie Butters), was filmed – but ultimately cut to instead end with his focus on the Charles Manson murders.

Speaking to Empire, Tarantino said: “There’s a reason it’s not in the movie,” he said, referring to the original Rick and Trudi ending. “If you play that scene, that’s the end. You almost have to start the movie all over again.”


Although the film’s ending scene arrives much sooner in the book, the 58-year-old director said he “pretty much knew from the beginning” that the ending wouldn’t play out in the same sequence.

“The night of the murders was the epilogue. I even had ‘epilogue’ pop up before it starts,” he explained. “But what we learned is, the night of the murders in August isn’t an epilogue. It’s the third act.”

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio in ‘Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood’

The film’s producer David Heyman previously told IndieWire in 2019 that he believes Butters would have been nominated for an Oscar if the scene in question had stayed in the final cut.

“Quentin is adept at throwing out a great scene,” he said. “If she was in, she’d get an Oscar nomination for that performance. But it didn’t serve the film. It’s all about the film rhythm, to get where it needs to be.”


Tarantino recently said that he’s planning on taking Once Upon A Time… in Hollywood to the stage.

“I wanted to write a play, and stuff that’s not in the book… I wanted it to exist as a play,” he told the Big Picture podcast. “And again, I’m able to explore stuff that’s not in the [movie]. The play deals with Italy.”

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