5 Fascinating Things We Learned from the ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ Documentary

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood film premiere in Berlin, Germany - 01 Aug 2019 Brad Pitt, Australian actress/cast member Margot Robbie and US actor/cast member Leonardo DiCaprio pose during the German premiere of 'Once Upon a Time in... Hollywood' in Berlin, Germany, 01 August 2019. The movie opens in German cinemas on 15 August. 1 Aug 2019
HAYOUNG JEON/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

With the Oscars coming up on February 9, nominated films are trying to get last-minute attention from voters. To help with that, Sony has released a behind-the-scenes look at Once Upon a Time in Hollywood with a 30-minute documentary titled, A Love Letter To Making Movies.

In the documentary, director Quentin Tarantino, stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, and Margot Robbie, as well as cinematographer Robert Richardson and production designer Barbara Ling, reveal some of the secrets, production challenges, and interesting nuggets about how the movie was made and how some of the most memorable scenes came together.

Here are five fascinating things we learned from the Once Upon a Time in Hollywood documentary:

Taratino’s inspiration for the story came from a real-life relationship: The director describes that the “genesis” of the story came to him when he was working on a project after Death Proof and he saw “the actor and [his] stunt guy” sitting and talking to each other on set. “That’s a fascinating relationship,” Tarantino thought. And knowing that actors like Steve McQueen and Burt Reynolds also had those relationships, he said that if he ever made a “movie about making movies,” that a relationship like that would be explored. That’s how the characters of DiCaprio’s actor Rick Dalton and Pitt’s stuntman Cliff Booth were born.

Leonardo DiCaprio pushed for Rick to “mess up” during the Lancer filming scenes:  DiCaprio’s character of Rick has become somewhat of a “Hollywood relic” as the film industry hits the “hippie wave” 1969, doing guest spots on TV shows instead of starring in films like he used to.  DiCaprio said he worked closely with Tarantino on the “self-inflicted torture” Rick has put on himself, and one way he did that was by suggesting what became one of the standout scenes of the film.

“Leo had a whole thing at some point it was like, ‘Look, I need to ruin it,’ during the Lancer sequence. ‘When I blow the scene I need to have a crisis of conscious about it and I have to come back from that,’” Tarantino said. “So we did the Lancer scene without it, and then we did it with it, and that was so amazing, that of course we’re going to use it.” Tarantino went on to say that he and DiCaprio pushed it even more, adding the scene of DiCaprio blowing up and yelling at himself in his trailer, which is one of the most memorable moments of the movie.

How the crew shut down four blocks of Hollywood Boulevard to re-create 1969 Los Angeles: The crew re-did all the storefronts and facades on the street to reflect what it really looked like in 1969, giving it a full makeover to shoot scenes of Rick and Booth driving at night. “It was incredible to be immersed in Hollywood Boulevard for four straight blocks—and it wasn’t just the storefronts, it was the extras, the cars, the vibe,” DiCaprio says.

“It’s not just the billboards, it’s the pamphlets in the store windows,” Pitt added. “Quentin was so intent on the detail on recreating things of that era. “

Margot Robbie wore an exact replica of one of Sharon Tate’s jackets: Costumes play a major part in the film, especially for Margot Robbie’s character of Sharon Tate. For one of the scenes from the film, Tarantino and the crew re-created a replica of a real jacket that Tate wore to the premiere of Rosemary’s Baby. “Sharon is still a fashion icon,” Robbie says. “She had such an incredible style. We had a couple moments in the film where we got to replicate something Sharon actually wore. For example, the snakeskin trench coat is something Quentin had in his mind from the very beginning.“

Kurt Russell helped Tarantino make sure the script was accurate: In the film, Russell plays a stunt coordinator who works with Rick and has takes issue with Cliff from a past encounter. In real life, Russell grew up with his father (Bing Russell) in show business and later appeared on many of the types of shows Tarantino referenced in the film during the time period it takes place. Tarantino said that he “was interested in anybody who actually had history back then reading the script.” So he enlisted Russell, Bruce Dern, and Burt Reynolds (before he passed away ahead of filming) because “they all did all those shows back then.” Russell says in the documentary that he knew guys like Rick and Cliff, and that Tarantino hit on all the right details of how those sets were in real life.

Here’s a look at the Once Upon a Time in Hollywood documentary:

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood earned 10 Academy Award nominations and some of the best reviews of the year, making it one of the movies to watch for Best Picture at the Oscars. The movie is very likely going to walk away with some statues on Oscar night: Brad Pitt appears to be a near-certain lock to win Best Supporting Actor, as he has won nearly every major award along the way, including at the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards. Director Quentin Tarantino also appears very likely to win Best Original Screenplay for the third time, as he has won numerous equivalent awards on the circuit this season already.

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