Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” ends with Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) being welcomed into Sharon Tate’s home for the first time after his bloody confrontation with members of the Manson Family cult. Some Tarantino fans have wondered if Rick finally being introduced to one of Hollywood’s most promising rising stars would reignite his dwindling career, but it turns out that’s not what’s in store for the “Lancer” actor.
During an appearance on “The Margaret Cho” podcast, Tarantino weighed in on what happens to Rick’s career after “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” ends. The answer shouldn’t surprise anyone familiar with the real-life figures Tarantino based Rick on when scripting the character.
“There are a few different ways his career could have gone depending on who you hitch your horse to of who he is representing. The George Maharis way is this way, the Tye Hardin way is that way. It’s a combination of a few of them,” the filmmaker said. “What could have easily have happened, even if he had a little bit more success in the 1970s than maybe I give him credit for, what I could really see happening, because it happened to a lot of these guys, is that by the late 1970s, early 1980s, a lot of these macho ’50s and ’60s television leading men they showed up on TV shows again but as the older cop who’s the boss of the younger cop that sends them out on the missions.”
Tarantino said Rick would still be acting and landing television roles similar to the character of police chief Harold C. Dobey on “Starsky and Hutch.” As Tarantino explained, “If you look at it, Earl Holliman is that kind of guy and had that character in ‘Police Women,’ he was her boss and sends her around on the mission.” Tarantino cited other actors such as Jack Kelly from “Maverick” and Vic Morrow whose late careers were spent playing police bosses on television programs. “I could definitely see Rick Dalton in 1978 being one of those guys,” Tarantino said.
As for what happens to Brad Pitt’s Cliff Booth, who was last seen being taken to the hospital in an ambulance after being stabbed by a Manson member, Tarantino didn’t say. Listen to Tarantino’s full appearance on “The Margaret Cho” podcast here.