[Editor’s note: The following post contains spoilers for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”]
Good luck finding a full Quentin Tarantino script floating around Hollywood while the filmmaker is in production: the “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” director is notoriously secretive about his screenplays, often requesting even the heaviest of heavy-hitters to read his work at his own house (and under his own watchful gaze). The same process was in place for his latest feature, an ode to the waning days of Hollywood in the late-’60s.
As Tarantino explained to Esquire earlier this year, when he finished writing the screenplay, he only kept one copy of the entire finished version. Only leading actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt and producer David Heyman were able to read the full script from start to finish (and, yes, they all had to go to Tarantino’s house to do so). The rest of Tarantino’s other stars, including Margot Robbie, only got to read the parts of the script pertaining to their character.
Breakout star Margaret Qualley was subjected to the same super-secret treatment. As Manson Family member Pussycat, Qualley frequently appears in the film alongside Pitt’s character, aging and inquisitive stuntman Cliff Booth, who she runs into in and around Hollywood and with whom she forms a loose acquaintance.
Because of the limited nature of Qualley’s work in “Hollywood” — she never speaks to DiCaprio’s Rick Dalton, never shares a scene with Robbie’s Sharon Tate, and her biggest sequence takes place at the Spahn Ranch with Cliff and the rest of the Family — Qualley was also in the dark on major pieces of the film, including its revisionist history take on the Manson Murders.
She did, however, have one ace up her sleeve: Pitt.
“I hadn’t read the very ending, so it was a surprise to me exactly how it goes down,” Qualley said in a recent interview with IndieWire. “I had heard rumors, but the last little bit I did not have the opportunity to read. It was super hush-hush, and we weren’t allowed to know, but Brad told me.”
And, yes, Qualley asked her co-star herself, he didn’t spoil anything she didn’t want to know. “I was like, ‘Brad, how does the movie end, I don’t know, I want to know!,'” she said with a laugh. “And then he told me. And I was like, ‘cool, thanks.'”
The actress said the twist ending, which sees the Manson Family derailed from their infamous 1969 rampage which included the brutal killings of Tate, her unborn child, and a trio of friends at her and Roman Polanski’s Cielo Drive home, is “definitely a surprise, but also the most beautiful surprise that there could possibly be. I mean, it’s a surprise, but it’s also the most Quentin thing you can do, you know? It’s a surprise until it happens, and then you’re like, of course.”
Qualley added, “Wouldn’t that have been freaking great if that’s the way it went down?”
Stay tuned for more from IndieWire’s interview with Qualley this week. “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is in theaters now.