After months of speculation, Margot Robbie is officially in talks to play Sharon Tate in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Tarantino’s project, set in Hollywood at the time of the Manson Family murders, first came to light last July. Since then, we’ve learned many details about the planned film, including the fact that Manson himself only figures as a background character.
With Tarantino planning to begin shooting soon, the director has begun assembling the expected all-star cast. Leonardo DiCaprio was the first to jump aboard, playing an aging TV actor named Rick Dalton who is trying to break into film. Brad Pitt later joined as Rick’s stunt double Cliff Boothe. As Tarantino always attracts big-name talent, expectations were that more A-listers would be eager to sign on.
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As reported by Deadline, Robbie has become latest A-lister to enter into negotiations for a role in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Robbie would play Sharon Tate, the actress wife of Roman Polanski, who lost her life along with four others at the hands of Charles Manson’s followers. Those horrifying murders rocked the Hollywood community, and some still view them as the moment the 1960s truly ended. The uneasy vibe generated by the murders provides the backdrop for Tarantino’s tale of Hollywood of the time. Robbie previously appeared with Leonardo DiCaprio in her breakout film, The Wolf of Wall Street.
According to previous reports, Polanski himself will also be a character in the film. Tarantino reportedly wants a Polish actor to portray the famed film director, who years later was arrested for raping a 14-year-old girl and fled the country. As previously reported, the two male leads’ only connection to the Tate character is that they are neighbors. That being the case, it’s hard to say how big Robbie’s role in the movie will actually be. Tarantino’s films of course often have a loose, anthology-like structure, with big actors sometimes playing relatively small parts. Tarantino’s reputation as an actor’s director means people of Robbie’s stature are willing to take a smaller role just to work with him.
However, lately Tarantino’s reputation as an “actor’s director” has taken a major hit – and with good reason. Amid the fallout over sexual assault allegations against Tarantino’s long-time collaborator Harvey Weinstein, his other former collaborator Uma Thurman came out with her own harrowing account of mistreatment at the hands of both Weinstein and Tarantino. During Thurman’s revelatory New York Times interview, she released video from the set of Tarantino’s Kill Bill showing a stunt driving accident that left her with lasting injuries. According to Thurman, she was forced into performing the stunt against her wishes. In the wake of the video, Tarantino has come under fire for putting Thurman in such a dangerous situation. For a brief time it was even thought that Sony might balk at going forward with Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, but the production appears to still be a full go.
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Though the movie won’t arrive in theaters until 2019, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood has already become embroiled in multiple controversies. Not the least of these has involved the whole idea of including Sharon Tate, a figure of tragedy whose memory some have accused Tarantino of exploiting. And then there’s the Roman Polanski angle, which is problematic on a number of levels. Of course, Tarantino knows all about controversy after years of making ultra-violent movies. The director surely won’t shy away from putting his vision on screen – for better, or for worse.