Quentin Tarantino has explained that Roman Polanski reached out to him to discuss his plans with Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
The film, which was finished in rapid time by Tarantino in order to squeeze in a world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, tells the tale of TV actor Dalton and his stunt double Cliff Booth who embark on an odyssey to make a name for themselves in the film industry during the Charles Manson murders in 1969 Los Angeles.
The Tate murders—of which the film is based on—was a mass murder conducted by members of the Manson Family in 1969. Four members of the ‘family’ broke into the home of actress Sharon Tate and husband Roman Polanski and brutally murdered Tate and her three friends who were visiting at the time. Tate was also eight-and-a-half months pregnant at the time of her death.
Polanski, at the time of the murders, was not at the house and instead was away working on a film in Europe.
As Tarantino’s film looks set for a box office smash, some leading members of cinema have criticised the subject matter, most famously French actress Emmanuelle Seigner who said: “I am just saying that it doesn’t bother them [in Hollywood] to make a film which takes Roman and his tragic story,” after seeing the premiere at Cannes. “While at the same time they have made him a pariah. And all without consulting him of course,” she added.
However, in a new interview with Deadline, Tarantino has admitted that Polanski had reached out through a friend to discuss the project. Polanski, who remains an American fugitive after he pleading guilty to statutory rape in 1977, fled to country and hasn’t returned since. Instead, the filmmaker sent a friend over to the States Tarantino’s studio to read the script.
“What happened was…look, when it comes to Roman Polanski we’re talking about a tragedy that would be unfathomable for most human beings. I mean there’s Sharon, there’s his unborn son that literally lived without ever being born,” Tarantino explained to Deadline. “That’s just a crazy sentence even to say. I felt that the story of her death, and the Manson tragedy had moved into legit history.
“So it actually is of historical importance beyond just his own personal tragedy,” he added. “So I felt I was on OK grounds there. I didn’t want to call him and talk to him while I was writing it because I’m not going to ask him permission. I’m going to do it, all right? I don’t think he needed any anxiety and I didn’t need any anxiety as far as that was concerned.”
He continued: “However, after it was finished, he got wind of it and he reached out through a mutual friend. That friend called me and said, so what’s up with this? He said that Roman wasn’t mad. He didn’t call up irate or anything. He was just curious.
“What is this? So what I did was… Roman’s obviously stuck in Europe. I had the friend come over and read the script. He came to my house. He read the script simply so he could call Roman up and tell him the idea and what’s in it. And basically that he didn’t have anything to worry about.”
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood will be released to cinemas in the UK from August 14th.