Here's What Happened To Rick Dalton After Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time...In Hollywood is an alternative history story in which fictional characters change the course of the Hollywood that we know. In this case, that history is the Manson Family murders of Sharon Tate and her friends which took place in 1969. But with the fact that the movie has changed history comes the question, just what happens next?

One certainly has to wonder just how the future of Hollywood might have been different if Sharon Tate had lived, but since Once Upon a Time is truly focused on Leonardo DiCaprio's character Rick Dalton, and his attempts to become a bigger star, the other question a lot of people must have is, did it work?

At the end of Once Upon a Hollywood, after Rick Dalton has torched a member of the Manson family with a flame thrower, he gets to meet Sharon Tate in person, an event which the film seems to imply will lead to brighter fortunes for the actor. In a recent interview with The Wrap, director Quentin Tarantino reveals that he's actually been thinking quite a bit about the career that Rick Dalton has after the events of the film. Fans will be pleased to know that Rick is doing fine, better than he was, even if he maybe doesn't become the massive star he wanted to be.

According to Tarantino, Rick Dalton does finally break into the movies, but what's perhaps more interesting is that it isn't Rick's new relationship with Sharon Tate and, one assumes, Roman Polanski, that increases Rick's star power, its news of what he did with a flamethrower...

The whole incident with the flamethrower and the hippies got a lot of play. No one quite knows what a big deal that was, but it was still a big deal. And it’s a big deal that he killed ‘em with the flamethrower, with the prop from one of his most popular movies. So he starts becoming in demand again. I mean, not in demand like Michael Sarrazin at that time was in demand, but he’s got some publicity and now all of a sudden The 14 Fists of McCluskey is playing more on Channel 5 during Combat Week and stuff. And so he gets offered a couple of features — low-budget ones, but studio ones.

To be sure, the fact that the star of a canceled television western torched somebody with a flamethrower inside his own swimming pool is certainly the sort of event that would make the news, and it's the fact that Rick Dalton is now a name on everybody's lips that leads to him finally getting some decent, if smaller, studio film roles.

However, while Rick Dalton does do some film work, it appears he's destined to remain a television actor. Still, it's not all bad news, as Quentin Tarantino insists that Rick Dalton's TV fortunes have still greatly improved, and so even when he's playing the guest star heavy on an episodic series, as he had been doing previously, he's now pulling more focus and doing bigger shows...

But the thing is, on the episodic-TV circuit, he’s a bigger name now. He’s not quite Darren McGavin, all right? Darren McGavin would get paid the highest you could get paid as a guest star back in that time. But Rick’s about where John Saxon was, maybe just a little bit higher. So he’s getting good money and doing the best shows. And the episodes are all built around him. So as opposed to doing Land of the Giants and Bingo Martin, now he’s the bad guy on Mission: Impossible, and it’s his episode.

Quentin Tarantino has certainly become quite invested in his Once Upon a Hollywood characters. He's talking about them here as if they were real people, and he recently revealed he wrote actual episodes of the film's fictional Bounty Law TV series that he says he intends to direct. He's so invested you wonder how he'll feel if he doesn't have a good night at the Oscars this Sunday.

Up next: Quentin Tarantino 2-Hour Exclusive Interview

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis.  Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.