Here’s What Happened to Rick Dalton Post-‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’
When it comes to movies, Quentin Tarantino has an answer for just about everything. In a recent interview with TheWrap, he breaks down his latest film Once Upon A Time in Hollywood in elaborate detail. Back in November of 2019 on an episode of The Margaret Cho Podcast, he and Cho chatted about the possible fate of Leonardo DiCaprio’s Rick Dalton in vague terms. Since then, he’s had much more time to mull it over, and his most recent take is loaded with specifics. (SPOILERS follow.)
At the end of OUATIH, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) saves the day by attacking Charles Manson’s followers before they can murder of Sharon Tate (which did NOT happen in real life, in case you were wondering). Dalton uses a prop flamethrower from one of his films to wreak havoc on an unlucky Mansonite, which according to Tarantino, was a career-saving move. And because this is Tarantino, his explanation is anything but brief:
"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. 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… Oh, and he does a Vince Edwards show, ‘Matt Lincoln.’ Or a Glenn Ford show, ‘Cade’s County.’ And that’s a big deal, ’cause he did ‘Hell-Fire Texas’ with Glenn Ford and they didn’t really get along. But now they bury the hatchet and they make a big deal about the two guys doing it together. And then he does a couple of Paul Wendkos’ TV movies… And you know, he’s doing OK."
Well, we’re glad to know that Rick Dalton had an illustrious career ahead of him. Also, props to Tarantino for rattling off film and TV history with such ease. We would have at least needed a notecard or something.
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