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Quentin Tarantino has a lot of control over his movies, given he both writes and directs them. However, now his Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood stars have revealed that he’s actually good about letting actors on his sets improv and try new things, which is how the movie ended up with one of its best F-bombs.
Specifically, we’re talking about the line “you’re Rick Fucking Dalton,” which stands out among quite a few other one-liners in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. Speaking on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, Leonardo DiCaprio revealed the improv moment came from Brad Pitt, but it helped to cement his own interpretation of the co-dependent friendship between the two characters. DiCaprio said:
Brad just improvised this line, you know, realizing that I have a hangover, realizing his career’s essentially over, he just goes, ‘Hey, you’re Rick Fucking Dalton.’ And as soon as he said that I was like, ‘Oh, that’s us, man.’ No matter what the hell's going down, you’re my number one man there. ‘You’re Rick Fucking Dalton.’ And I’m like, ‘Yep, you got it.’ I go and have a disastrous day on set regardless.
But the story didn't end there. In fact, during the WTF podcast, Leonardo DiCaprio, Marc Maron and Brad Pitt also reminisced about how these guys, these “freeloaders,” are always around celebrities in real life, before DiCaprio reminded Pitt of the story behind where the Once Upon A Time In Hollywood f-bomb really originated.
In fact, Brad Pitt revealed the moment came from his career early on, noting,
Oh this guy. When I first started, I had this guy. I was bitching and moaning like in the mid-nineties and I had this guy. Total freeloader. I would always just see him walking back and forth wearing my clothes, using my dryer, eating the food. But he was there for me, man. And one day, I was bitching and moaning, and he says, ‘Hey man. Don’t forget. You’re Brad Fucking Pitt.’ And you know what? It soothed me.
He didn’t outright name the dude, which is the nice thing to do. But it’s a great story from the annals of the real-life Hollywood and it ties in well with Leonardo DiCaprio’s own account of making Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.
In general, both Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt seem to be on the same page that they just gelled very quickly as Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth. Moments like Brad Pitt sharing his F-bomb story likely helped.
It's also cool that moments like these were appreciated by Quentin Tarantino, although Leo DiCaprio also pointed out “there’s certain dialogue sequences that he has stuck in his mind” where the “cadence” and “way of saying the line” is really important. Other times he’s big on the riffing and in particular the Cliff Booth and Rick Dalton stuff was able to be played with under what Brad Pitt called Tarantino’s “watchful eye.” You think about comedians improving quite often, but with movies like Once Upon A Time In Hollywood where the word on the page does seem to have that certain cadence touched on above, it is interesting to hear there can still be space for improvisation.