The most recent film from Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, featured Leonardo DiCaprio playing the role of Rick Dalton, an actor who was dangerously close to being washed up. Dalton is stuck doing guest appearances on bad dramas and variety shows, hasn’t had a leading film role in years, and is on the wrong end of an ever-changing Hollywood.
Tarantino obviously can’t quite let go of the film, seeing as how he penned a novelisation of the script in 2019, is making a stage play out the movie, and is currently developing a TV series based on Dalton’s main gig, Bounty Law. Now, Tarantino is once again going back in for more as he’s preparing to write a new book about Dalton’s career, according to Empire.
Of course, this being Tarantino, the main reference point of the new book comes from an obscure piece of Hollywood’s past. “You know in the ‘70s, you could get those books like The Films Of Charles Bronson, The Films Of Anthony Quinn? Well, this is that,” Tarantino fires off.
“It gives you a little quickie biography of his life. And then it starts going through the career: ‘…and then there’s this episodic television show, and then this other television show, and then this movie, and that movie’, and starts with the small parts he has in this one, and it builds, with little reviews of each thing, little synopses of each of them. And it goes through the entire career until he retires in 1988.”
Apparently, Tarantino is going the extra conceptual mile by having the book be written by a late ’90s version of himself. “That is written by me, by Quentin Tarantino, in 1999,” Tarantino explains. “Because in this pretext, Rick retires and moves to Hawaii. And so I go, in 1998, to the Hawaii International Film Festival. I’m there, and Roger Ebert’s there, and I’m seeing films.”
Adding: “And then one of the festival people goes, ‘Hey, so is there anybody in Hawaii that you’d like to meet?’ You go, ‘Well, who’s worth meeting here in Hawaii?’ ‘Well, Don Ho’s here, and this one is here, and that one’s here. Rick Dalton’s here…’ ‘Woah, woah, Rick Dalton? I wondered what the fuck happened to that guy!’ ‘Well, he retired in 1988, and him and his wife Francesca [Lorenza Izzo’s character, who Rick marries in the film], they moved to Hawaii…’
“So they arrange a lunch. He comes down to the hotel that I’m staying at, and there’s Rick! He’s about 40 pounds heavier, but there he is. So we have a ball, and he’s a really nice fellow, and my movie shows and he comes to the screening. He shows up usually every year for a couple of screenings, he’s long since retired – and I have such a good time with him that the next year, ’99, I arrange a Rick Dalton retrospective. We show some prints of his movies, have a nice little thing for him, and he likes that. And then that spurs me to write an appreciation of his career called ‘The Man Who Would Be McQueen: The Films Of Rick Dalton’. And so I write it, and it’s prefaced by this huge Q&A that I had with Rick at that time. It’s all written. It exists!”
So this is what Tarantino is doing instead of writing his tenth, and allegedly final, film? Well, he always talked about becoming a writer after his movie career ended, so I guess this is just the early preview of his potential upcoming career change. If you’re a big Tarantino person, keep an eye out for when The Man Who Would Be McQueen: The Films Of Rick Dalton comes out. In the meantime, let’s appreciate Dalton yelling at some homicidal hippies.