'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood': A Guide to the Real-Life Hollywood Players
By John Boone
Courtesy of Sony Pictures
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a fairy tale by way of Quentin Tarantino, mixing together real-life figures, films and haunts of 1960s Tinseltown with fictional characters of his creation. Notably, Rick Dalton, the fading actor played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and Cliff Booth, Brad Pitt's faithful stuntman, have no historical counterpart, but their story is set against the backdrop of Sharon Tate's murder at the hands of the Manson Family, who were very much real.
With the film arriving in theaters on Friday, ET has complied a guide to who's who in the Once Upon a Time universe, from appearances by the biggest stars of yesteryear to the most infamous members of the cult of Manson.
Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate
Robbie plays Sharon Tate, an actress who had graduated from TV appearances on The Beverly Hillbillies to rising movie star. She was Golden Globe-nominated for Most Promising Newcomer in 1968 for Valley of the Dolls. At the time of her death, the 26-year-old was married to Roman Polanski and eight-and-a-half months pregnant with their first child.
Hirsche plays Jay Sebring, celebrity hairstylist to stars like Steve McQueen and Frank Sinatra. He and Tate dated until she met Roman Polanski, at which point they ended their relationship but the three remained close friends. Sebring, along Wojciech Frykowski and heiress Abigail Folger, were at Tate's home on the night they were murdered by the Manson Family.
Margaret Qualley as Pussycat
Qualley's (Fosse/Verdon and The Leftovers) "Pussycat" is something of an outlier, because there is not a single counterpart for her character -- she exists as an amalgam of Manson girls -- though she's likely a riff on Kathryn "Kitty" Lutesinger, who was arrested at Spahn Ranch.
Dakota Fanning as Squeaky Fromme
Fanning plays Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, who is one of the most notorious Family members, both for camping out during Manson's trial and her 1975 assassination attempt on President Gerald Ford. Lena Dunham, meanwhile, plays Catherine "Gypsy" Share, Victoria Pedretti (The Haunting of Hill House) is Leslie "Lulu" Van Houten, and Sydney Sweeney (Euphoria) is 14-year-old Dianne "Snake" Lake.
Austin Butler as Tex
Butler (who will soon star as Elvis in Baz Luhrmann's biopic) plays Charles "Tex" Watson, one of the Manson followers involved in Tate's killing. In Once Upon a Time, as in real life, he is joined by Susan "Sadie" Atkins (played by Better Things' Mikey Madison), Patricia "Katie" Krenwinkel (The Fosters' Madisen Beaty) and Linda Kasabian (Stranger Things' Maya Hawke).
Rafal Zawierucha as Roman Polanski
Polish actor Zawierucha plays director Roman Polanski, who met Tate on the set of The Fearless Vampire Killers, in 1966. The two eventually married and moved to Cielo Drive at the beginning of '69. Polanski was away in London filming a new movie on the night of the murders. (He would become a fugitive of the U.S. a decade later when he pled guilty to statutory rape.)
Mike Moh as Bruce Lee
Moh (Empire) plays Bruce Lee, just coming off of The Green Hornet but yet to star in Enter the Dragon. Sebring introduced Tate to Lee and Lee became her martial arts adviser for the 1969 comedy The Wrecking Crew. (It's said that Polanski briefly believed Lee was responsible for Tate's death.)
Damian Lewis as Steve McQueen
Lewis (Homeland) plays Steve McQueen, who had successfully made the jump from TV to films like The Thomas Crown Affair and was already an Academy Award-nominated Best Actor (for The Sand Pebbles) by 1969. Tarantino's McQueen pops up during a party at the Playboy Mansion as a bit of a gossip.
Luke Perry as Wayne Maunder
Perry's final film role sees him portraying actor Wayne Maunder, who starred as Scott Lancer on the CBS Western, Lancer, from 1968 to '70. In Once Upon a Time, DiCaprio's Dalton guest stars on the series and films opposite Maunder and his onscreen brother, James Stacy (played here by Timothy Olyphant).