How Tarantino’s Personal Collections Inspired ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ Designer

Production designer Barbara Ling shared gorgeous behind-the-scenes photos of the new film.
Leonardo DiCaprio
"Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"
Sony Pictures

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” production designer Barbara Ling shared gorgeous behind-the-scenes photos, and revealed how Quentin Tarantino’s personal collections inspired the look of the film. In an interview with Architectural Digest, the designer said she took a lot of material from the filmmaker’s wealth of posters, 1960s cinema, and old-school Los Angeles restaurant connections. Loosely based around the Charles Manson/Sharon Tate murders, the movie stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, and Al Pacino, among others, and is set in 1960s Los Angeles.

“It’s Quentin’s love letter to the city he grew up in,” said Ling, a fellow L.A.-native and longtime production designer, whose credits include 1991’s “Fried Green Tomatoes” and “The Doors”, as well as both Joel Shumacher Batman films from the mid-’90s; “Batman Forever” and “Batman & Robin.”

Ling visited Tarantino’s personal cinema once a week, where the filmmaker played her many of his favorite films of the era. The director has previously shared which ’60s films most inspired “Hollywood,” to which Ling added “The Wrecking Crew,” “Valley of the Dolls,” and “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice.” “1969 was such a vivid period of color, particularly in Los Angeles, and there was a feel of neon and Op Art everywhere,” she said.

In addition, posters from the filmmaker’s personal collection appear in the film.

“Quentin has this very rare magnificent film poster collection, which we used for the decor,” Ling told AD. “He had very specific pieces and put out his own personal decorations, such as a ‘Hopalong Cassidy’ cup.” The set is said to be a blend of kitschy midcentury and Spanish Westerns.

Last, but not least: The filmmaker’s personal connection to access to a Hollywood institution, Musso and Frank Grill on Hollywood Boulevard.

“We got permission to film there, as Quentin is a big customer and has been going forever. They love him there and closed the restaurant down for five days for filming,” Ling said. “The interiors are almost exactly the same [since the grill’s inception in 1919], and the headwaiters gave us the dishes used in the ’60s, which was a miracle.”

Check out the gorgeous behind-the-scenes shots of DiCaprio, Pitt, Robbie, and Pacino at Architectural Digest.

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” opens in theaters nationwide July 26 from Sony Pictures.

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