Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio and Quentin Tarantino sat down with Esquire to talk all things movies, and of course, their new film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
The film depicts 1969 Hollywood, around the time of the Charles Manson murders. Rick Dalton (DiCaprio), is a declining star, Steve McQueen (Damian Lewis) is up and coming, but the only thing he can count on is his stunt double Cliff Booth (Pitt). Then there’s Rick’s neighbor Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) and her husband Roman Polanski (Rafal Zawierucha).
While the production has been hush-hush, with Tarantino begging insiders to not leak any spoilers after watching the premiere at Cannes, the interview provided a fascinating glimpse at what goes on when the camera isn’t rolling in Hollywood.
The profile starts out with the author Michael Hainey describing Tarantino’s attempt to direct the interview. He told him: “Listen. I’ve come up with a few questions that could be really good for you to ask.”
Tarantino continued: “But here’s something important. I don’t want it to seem like you are asking a question.”
Eventually, Pitt came in, with a problem in his pants. “There’s nothing I can do about boner pants, is there?”
During the interview, Pitt also revealed that Tarantino was so concerned about access to the script and potential leaks, only he and DiCaprio read the whole thing, and they had to do it at Tarantino’s house.
Describing what motivated him to become involved in the project, DiCaprio said: “first off, the chance to work with Mr. Tarantino. And certainly this time period was fascinating. It was this homage to Hollywood. I don’t think there’s been a Hollywood film like this—and by that I mean a film set in Hollywood and about Hollywood—which gets its nails dirty, getting into the everyday life of an actor and his stunt double. 1969 is a seminal time in cinema history as well as in the world. Rick and Cliff, they’re part of the old guard in Hollywood, but they’re also trying to navigate this new world of the hippie revolution and free love. I loved the idea of taking on this struggling actor who is trying to find his footing in this new world. And his pal who he’s been with through all these wars in Hollywood. Quentin so brilliantly captures what’s going on in the changing of America but also through these characters’ eyes how Hollywood was changing.”
DiCaprio said that the film captures the spirit of Hollywood: “Some of the struggles I immediately recognized—the search for your own identity and the search for success in an industry that rejects 99% of actors from this elite class of being able to choose your own work.”
Pitt and DiCaprio bonded over their shared love of the late Luke Perry, who also appears in the film.
Pitt recalled telling DiCaprio: “‘That’s Luke f–king Perry!’ We were like kids in the candy shop because I remember going to the studios and Beverly Hills, 90210 was going on and he was that icon of coolness for us as teenagers. It was this strange burst of excitement that I had, to be able to act with him.”
DiCaprio added: “I remember my friend Vinny, who is in the film as well, we walked in and we both had this butterfly moment of like, ‘Oh, my God, that’s Luke Perry over there!’”
Perry died at age 52 following a massive stroke. “Man, he was so incredibly humble and amazing and absolutely committed,” Pitt told the magazine. “He couldn’t have been a more friendly, wonderful guy to spend time with. I got to sit down and have some wonderful conversations with him. It was really special.”
Once Upon a Time hits theaters July 26th.