Once Upon a Time In Hollywood was a huge movie for Quentin Tarantino, and that’s saying something. The cinema icon has a history of directing iconic movies such as Pulp Fiction and the Kill Bill series. He also has a history of directing really long movies. However, even with longer feature films there are still always scenes that end up on the cutting room floor. The 160-minute Once Upon a Time In Hollywood is no exception – and Tarantino just revealed that his favorite scene from the script didn’t make the final cut.
In an exclusive interview with CinemaBlend’s ReelBlend podcast, Quentin Tarantino shared his favorite scene from the original Once Upon a Time In Hollywood script, which now can be discovered in the just-released movie novelization. The scene features Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Trudi Fraser (Julia Butters) – the young girl who the actor meets on the set of Lancer – having a phone conversation that gets pretty emotional, and Quentin Tarantino explained why he loved it so much:
That was my favorite scene in the script. So the idea that that wouldn't be in the movie was unfathomable. That was my favorite scene in the script. I think it was probably Leo's favorite scene that he shot. We were in tears. It was the only time… I've gotten misty-eyed every once in a while when I was shooting this scene versus that scene. But that thing, I mean, Julia (Butters) was in tears every time we finished every take. We were just really proud of that sequence.
If Quentin Tarantino was so proud of the scene, why didn’t it make it to the final cut of the film? It sounds like the actors gave it all and would have probably added to the emotional depth of the story. However, Quentin Tarantino had a pretty good reason for why it got cut. He said:
The reason it's not in the film is – it's a two-fold one. It seems like an ending to the movie. Which actually was okay in the script, because in the script I looked at everything that happens in February as part of a three-act structure. And then the stuff that happens on the night of the murder as an epilogue. But that was the wrong way to think about it. Once we started putting the movie together, the stuff that happens in August isn't an epilogue. It's the third act. We've got to look at it that way. And so, they pulled off the scene. The scene is terrific. It's not about them. But when we really worked on assembly… we realized after the Spahn Ranch, that ends the February section. There's no coming back from that. That is the ending of that. And now we can't just end it with the Spahn Ranch. So the idea is, after Spahn Ranch, we have to wrap up February as soon as we possibly can. And then once we do, then we go into August.
As much as we would have liked to see that scene, it makes sense why Quentin Tarantino cut it from the film. At 2 hours and 40 minutes, Once Upon a Time In Hollywood is already a long movie, and some sacrifices had to be made. Watching the movie, it’s easy to see how the inclusion of the phone conversation would have interrupted the flow of the story. The Spahn Ranch segment isn’t really a proper ending for the February section, so it makes sense that any extraneous scenes not directly related to moving the story along would be cut. Quentin Tarantino said as much:
That happens a lot in movies. You drop scenes that are really terrific. But a timeline imposes itself on the cut. And if it falls outside of that timeline, then no matter how good it is, it's got to go.
While the scene isn’t present in the film, the novelization of Once Upon a Time In Hollywood is now available wherever books are sold. It won’t be Leonardo DiCaprio, but maybe Quentin Tarantino will decide to release the footage at some point. Hey, Hollywood is all about dreams, right?