Tarantino explains Rick Dalton’s future after ‘Once Upon A Time in Hollywood’

Beware of spoilers

Quentin Tarantino has explained what happens to his newest hero from Once Upon A Time in Hollywood after the end of the film – spoilers lie ahead.

Rick Dalton, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, joins forces at the end of the film with his stuntman Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) to stop the members of the Manson Family from killing Sharon Tate.

At a post-screening Q&A, the director explained Dalton’s fate after the drama. Read on for Tarantino’s full theory:


“The whole incident with the flamethrower and the hippies got a lot of play. 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.”

A scene from Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Once Upon A Time In Hollywood’

He continued: “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.”


Once Upon A Time in Hollywood is currently nominated for 10 Oscars, and has seen Brad Pitt win Best Supporting Actor across the board this awards season – most recently at the BAFTAs.

NME’s Greg Wetherall gave the film five stars, saying: “Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood retains elements of Tarantino’s trademark virtuosity, but passes it through a filter of hitherto unseen maturity.”