Why Quentin Tarantino Cut Tim Roth's Once Upon A Time In Hollywood Scenes

"Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" may not be the longest Quentin Tarantino movie, but it definitely isn't the shortest. Clocking in at 161 minutes, Tarantino's most recent film, released in 2019, broke the mold of what's expected from the filmmaker. The movie was less concerned about the plot and more interested in romanticizing late 1960s Hollywood, bathing in the atmosphere of the bygone era. Between the buddy dynamics of Rick Dalton (Leonardo Dicaprio) and Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) are an eclectic cast of characters representative of the period, especially Margot Robbie's earnest and heartbreaking portrayal of Sharon Tate.

Despite the runtime, a lot still ended up on the cutting room floor. With these cuts came the absence of certain characters and storylines, including an appearance by long-time Tarantino collaborator Tim Roth. The actor first worked with Tarantino on his directorial debut "Reservoir Dogs" in an incredible performance as Mr. Orange, an undercover cop in a robbery gone wrong. Roth would later go on to work with the director on "Pulp Fiction," "The Hateful Eight," and a cut role from "Hollywood" — despite still being featured in the credits. However, the most interesting part about Roth getting cut from the film is how cordial Tarantino was about it, an experience Roth thinks best exemplifies the director as a collaborator and a person.

The four hour cut that wasn't meant to be

Tarantino had already revealed on the Empire Podcast that Roth played the British butler to Jay Sebring (Emile Hirsch), essentially making him part of Sharon Tate's group of friends. Unfortunately, Tarantino's love letter to Hollywood had an overly long first cut. In an interview with Uproxx, Roth spoke about how the initial length of the film played into Tarantino's reasoning for cutting his role:

"What happened was that he called me to play this character, which was a strand in the film, and then he cut that strand out completely. He cut that whole storyline out because when he put his first cut together, it came in at four and a half hours or five hours long. And he didn't want to do a part one and two."

In the later years of Quentin Tarantino's career, the director has shown interest in longer-form storytelling. Most notably, the 187-minute Roadshow cut of "The Hateful Eight" (which was already Tarantino's longest film to date) was reconfigured on Netflix as a 4-episode mini-series with 25 minutes of new content. There had also been talks in 2019 about giving "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" a similar treatment, with star Brad Pitt confirming the possibility of expanding the movie into a series. No matter the case, Tarantino spoke to /Film in 2019, where he commented that "the idea that you could have a fuller version come out, after the fact, that's kind of exciting. That's kind of interesting."

Showing a respect for frequent collaborators

Unfortunately, other than the theatrical re-release of the film with 10 minutes of footage that builds upon the fictional version of Hollywood Tarantino created, there haven't been any different extended versions of "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" (yet), meaning no Tim Roth in sight. However, Roth was sure to let Uproxx know that Tarantino made an effort to show the actor the fruits of his labor early in the editing stage:

"He [Tarantino] got me over to his editing place where he was doing his thing. And he said, 'I want to show you the scenes that you were in that I'm having to remove.' And he sat, and he screened them for me. And then he screened the film for me and so on. But in the process, I don't think he'd even locked the picture at that point. But it was very, very sweet of him to do that. But then he put in the credits, 'Tim Roth (Cut).' Which is so his sense of humor. My sons, they love that."

While Quentin Tarantino comes across as eccentric and intense when promoting his films and books, it's easy to see the innate passion that comes forward in his work, especially with his actors. From dancing with John Travolta and Uma Thurman on the set of "Pulp Fiction" to the freezing temperatures on the soundstage of "The Hateful Eight," his dedication to immersing his actors in the film is impressive and a big part of why they're so successful. It's fun to know that the director respects his frequent collaborators enough to share with them aspects of his vision that weren't meant to be. That is until the extended cut of "Once Upon a Time" makes its way to screens one day.