'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood': Quentin Tarantino Explains What Happened to Rick Dalton

When audiences last saw the character, he was meeting next door neighbor Sharon Tate after surviving an attack by followers of Charles Manson.

Quentin Tarantino has shed some light on what happened to his protagonist Rick Dalton after the ending to Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

When audiences last saw Rick, an aging TV star trying to break into film, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, he was meeting next door neighbor Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) after surviving an attack by followers of Charles Manson, which altered history.

Rick had fantasized about meeting Tate and her husband, director Roman Polanski, in the hopes that it would help him catch another big break in the industry.

Fans may have been left hopeful before the credits began to role, but Tarantino recently told Margaret Cho on her podcast that he was not so sure Rick ever got that A-list status for which he so yearned.

"What could easily have happened — even if he had a little bit more success in the '70s than maybe I give him credit for — what I could really see happened, because it happened to a lot of these guys, is that by the late '70s, early '80s, 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," the writer-director says, using the Captain Dobey character from Starsky and Hutch as an example. 

But Tarantino did say that he felt Rick would have been changed enough by that point he would have considered film roles that he likely would have turned down years prior. 

"Maybe from the end of the movie on, he was a little bit more aware, that he'd be a little bit more open to things, but a couple of years before, it would never happen," he says, using the Joe Buck character in Midnight Cowboy as an example. 

Rick's open-mindedness to these roles would likely have come from passing on similar, out-of-the-norm roles in the past, which led to bigger projects for those actors who took a chance. 

"So when I went through Rick's career, post Bounty Law, it was always the same kind of situation: older established cowboy guy, him, with new cowboy guy," he says. Tarantino even imagined a situation where Rick was pursued by Roger Corman for Devil's Angels, which he would turn down for being so strange, at which point John Cassavetes would get the role (as he did in reality) and it would lead to him starring in Rosemary's Baby (which he also did in reality). 

And that is a "role that Rick would have chewed his lip off for," Tarantino says. 

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is coming to digital on Nov. 26 and 4K, Blu-ray and DVD on Dec. 10.