Tarantino Says ‘Hollywood’ Novel Is ‘Complete Rethinking’ of the Movie: ‘It’s the Unwieldy Version’

If you're thinking the "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" book is a typical novelization of the movie, you're wrong.
"Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"
"Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"

Quentin Tarantino teased his upcoming “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” novel for the first time during an appearance on the “Pure Cinema Podcast” (via The Wrap), touting the book as more than a typical novelization of his Oscar-winning movie. According to Tarantino, the “Hollywood” novel is more of a “complete rethinking” of the movie than a book that just reprints the screenplay and adds in all the deleted scenes that Tarantino cut out of the theatrical release.

“It’s not just me taking the screenplay and then breaking it down in a novelistic form. I retold the story as a novel,” Tarantino said. “So it’s not like, ‘Oh, OK, well he obviously had a few scenes left over, so he just took the screenplay and novelized it and threw in a few extra scenes.’ It was a complete rethinking of the entire story and not just a rethinking as far as throwing some scenes that were left out of the editing room. But I did so much research.”

Tarantino continued, “I was writing it for five years, so there was so much stuff that I wrote and I explored that I never even typed up, because there was no way it was going to make the movie, but it was edification, it made me understand the characters, it made me learn things about them…I’m trying to tell a novelistic version of these characters. If the book existed first, then the movie would be me making a movie out of that material. You know how you take an unwieldy novel and try to turn it into a movie? Well, to me, the movie is that. This is the unwieldy version of the movie.”

One character the “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” novel will flesh out more fully than the movie did is stuntman Cliff Booth, played in the film by Brad Pitt in a performance that won him the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

“In the movie, Cliff is a real enigma, you’re kind of like, what’s this guy’s deal?” Tarantino said. “And one of the things in the book is, there’s these isolated chapters that tell you, like, this whole chapter will be about Cliff’s past. It goes back in time to tell you about Cliff at this point in time. And then you go further on with the normal run of the story and there’s another chapter that goes back in time and tells you about Cliff’s past. And every isolated chapter that’s just about Cliff’s past is like a weird little pulp novel unto itself starring Cliff.”

Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” novel is now available for preorder. The book goes on sale June 29.

Daily Headlines
Daily Headlines covering Film, TV and more.

By subscribing, I agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

PMC Logo
IndieWire is a part of Penske Media Corporation. © 2023 IndieWire Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved.