Everything We Know About Quentin Tarantino's 'Once Upon A Time In Hollywood' [Part Two]

Once upon a time in Hollywood, everyone in Hollywood was cast in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

That seems to be the joke in the film Twittersphere this week, after a deluge of casting announcements for Quentin Tarantino's upcoming 1969-set Hollywood fable. I already cross-examined the first crop of announcements regarding the film, but given the insane amount of new information hurled at us since that article's publication, I figured a follow-up was in order. Especially since this latest batch of casting news offers an even more tantalizing prospect about what Tarantino's ninth film may have in store.

All in the Family

First things first, Charles Manson has finally been cast. There was a lot of speculation about what his role in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood would be, or if he'd even show up at all. I always assumed that if he did make an appearance, it would be similar to the Hitler cameo in Inglourious Basterds; a brief, cartoonish parody, dropped in for comedy and plot bits here and there. It's unclear how prominent his role will be, but I still think this would make for the best use of the character.

Justified's Damon Herriman will play the notorious cult leader, which is wonderful news. Not only is the Australian Herriman a terrific actor, but he's also lesser-known than some of the popular fancasts. Tarantino has a knack for scouting foreign character actors out of obscurity (see: Waltz, Christoph), and there's something exciting about an unknown quantity in the part, as opposed to a well-established weirdo. (Walton Goggins and Jeremy Davies topped a lot of the speculative lists I read, and though they're both great performers, it's pretty easy to picture what their Manson would look like; Davies has even played him before. Herriman, on the other hand, is a total wild card.)

Additionally, a whole slew of folks joined the cast as Manson's cohorts, which insinuates the Family will have a larger presence than I'd originally speculated. According to Variety, Lena Dunham has been cast as a character named "Gypsy." Those studied up on the Manson murders will know that most Family members had coded nicknames. "Gypsy" was the nickname of Catherine Share, an Eastern European immigrant who was recruited into the Family by Bobby Beausoleil, the cult's resident heartthrob who was responsible for wooing many ladies into Manson's clutches. (Beausoleil is currently serving life in prison for the murder of Gary Hinman, the first official victim of the Family's bloody wrath.)

After the Tate-LaBianca murders in 1969, Share – along with four other Family members – were charged with the attempted murder of fellow Family member Barbara Hoyt, to prevent her from testifying against Manson. (Their genius idea for killing Hoyt: they took her on a vacation to Honolulu, laced her hamburger with a massive dose of LSD on the last day, and left her on the island alone.) Share was arrested for a number of other petty crimes in her association with the Family, and was eventually sentenced to five years in prison for a shootout after robbing a surplus store. She later distanced herself from Manson's lot and has since appeared in a number of TV specials about the Family.

Dunham's involvement must be exciting for the Girls creator. She's shown a vested interest in the Manson Family in her previous work, notably in her aforementioned HBO series, which features a number of off-hand references to the crimes, particularly to Squeaky Fromme (who will be played by the previously announced Dakota Fanning in Tarantino's film).

Also joining the cast is Austin Butler as "Tex," AKA Charles Watson. In my first post, I speculated that Watson – the man who fatally stabbed Sharon Tate – might be played by an unknown, but Butler is a fairly popular among the younger set, having starred in a number of Nickelodeon and CW shows. (Though he's probably most famous as the long-time boyfriend of High School Musical star Vanessa Hudgens.) He's certainly prettier than the real-life Tex, but he's got a menacing quality that should translate well to the character.

The new casting that really gripped me was that of Margaret Qualley, Victoria Pedretti, and Madisen Beaty. Qualley is the big name among those three; she's the daughter of Andie MacDowell and played Jill Garvey on The Leftovers. She's playing someone called "Kitty Kat," who is likely Kathryn Lutesinger, whose Family nickname was "Kitty." Lutesinger wasn't involved in any of the Family's major crimes, but she was a fixture in Manson's trial, camping outside of the courthouse and singing in protest of the proceedings. She's the farthest to the right in this archival footage:

But Pedretti and Beaty's casting is where it gets super interesting. Though most have speculated that their roles as "Katie" and "Lulu" are fictional creations of Tarantino's, that may not be true. Those were the Family's nicknames for two of its most notorious members: Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten.

Krenwinkel was involved in both the Tate and LaBianca murders, and is known for stabbing Sharon Tate's friend – Abigail Folger – to death. She is currently the longest-incarcerated female inmate in the California penal system. Van Houten wasn't there for the Tate murders, but tagged along the next night, and is responsible for stabbing Rosemary LaBianca. Fans of John Waters might recognize Van Houten as his friend and a chapter focus in his non-fiction book, Role Models, where he delves deep into their shared history and his belief in redemption.

According to The Wrap, Pedretti is "Lulu" (Van Houten) and Beaty is "Katie" (Krenwinkel). If my speculation is correct, Beaty's casting is extremely fascinating, because she already played Patricia Krenwinkel on NBC's Aquarius. Is Beaty officially our go-to Krenwinkel now?

Maya Hawke has also joined the cast as a character named "Flower Child." I can't think of any correlating Family members for that one, but it sounds hippie-enough to deduce she's a fellow Manson follower. Interestingly, Hawke is the daughter of Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman, whose criticism of Tarantino's grueling directing tactics helped fuel Once Upon a Time in Hollywood's initial controversy.

The Hollywooders

In addition to the Family members, more of the Tate victims have also been cast, as have a number of other celebrities tied directly or indirectly to the murders. The Americans' Costa Ronin will play Voytek Frykowski, Roman Polanski's childhood best friend who continued to work with the famed director after he crossed the seas for America. The Love Witch's Samantha Robinson will play Abigail Folger, Frykowski's girlfriend and heiress to the Folger Coffee fortune. Both Frykowski and Folger were murdered alongside actress Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) and hairstylist Jay Sebring (Emile Hirsch) in Tate and Polanski's Benedict Canyon home on August 9, 1969.

Polish actor Rafal Zawierucha is tapped to play Polanski, the prestigious director, husband of Tate, and father of their unborn son, Paul, who died in his mother's stomach. (Sharon was 8 and 1/2 months pregnant when she was killed.) Zawierucha's casting makes good on Tarantino's desire to find a native Polish actor for the role.

Also of note is Rumor Willis as Joanna Pettet, a British actress who was dear friends with Sharon Tate, and who had lunch with her, Frykowski, and Folger the afternoon of the murders. Pettet was married to actor Alex Cord, one of Jay Sebring's clients. There's also Dreama Walker as Connie Stevens, an actress and singer popular in the '60s and '70s. Stevens was once married to singer Eddie Fisher, is the mother of actresses Joely and Tricia Fisher, and was step-mother to Carrie Fisher. I don't know of any direct ties between Stevens and the Manson murders, save one anecdote, where she was quoted as saying the crimes "scared the daylights out of everyone." Perhaps she'll appear in some sort of newsreel footage discussing the murders?

Who’s Left?

Almost all of the big players in the Manson murders – from the Family to the victims to the stars in the orbit of the infamous events – have been cast in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood already. But there are a few curious omissions. They're either not-yet onboard, or – like "Katie" and "Lulu" –  hidden in the announcements. Or maybe they won't be part of the film at all.

The biggest one I've noticed is Susan Atkins, probably the most notorious Family member after Charlie. Atkins was present for both the Tate and LaBianca murders, and – according to whose account you believe – might have dealt Sharon's fatal wound. She was Manson's go-to gal, about as sadistic as a human being can get. She's also the reason the Family got caught; while incarcerated on separate charges, she blabbed to a fellow inmate that she killed Sharon Tate. With Watson – and possibly Krenwinkel and Van Houten – cast, her omission is notable.

Another big name commonly associated with Manson is Dennis Wilson. The Beach Boys singer was friendly with Charles Manson and even let the Family stay in his home. His relationship with Manson kicked off the series of events that would lead to the murders.

Charles Manson was an aspiring musician, who shared much of his work with Wilson. In 1968, the Beach Boys recorded one of Manson's songs – "Never Learn Not to Love" – but credited Wilson as the sole songwriter. Manson was said to be furious; many believe that anger fueled his antagonistic lashing out against the Hollywood elite in the months to come. The most tragic thread of the Manson/Wilson debacle is that Wilson introduced Manson to music producer Terry Melcher – son of Doris Day – who lived in a home at 10050 Cielo Drive; a home that months after his move-out was rented to Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate, and was the site of the grisly murders.

In film scholar Karina Longworth's acclaimed podcast You Must Remember This, she recounts Manson's ties to Hollywood, and recalls one particularly unsettling anecdote: Manson visited the Cielo Drive home looking for Melcher a few months before the murders, and came face-to-face with Tate and a photographer friend, who told Manson that Melcher no longer lived there, and guided him to a back exit. Manson's knowledge of the house's location and layout, and its ties to Melcher, painted it with a blood-soaked target that day.

Dennis Wilson, Terry Melcher, and Melcher's then-girlfriend Candice Bergen – who lived with him at the Cielo Drive home – could all feasibly figure into Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. So, too, could Manson prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, whose ties to the crime inspired him to pen Helter Skelter, the Bible of the true crime genre. Prominent Family members like Sandra Goode and Linda Kasabian – who was present for both the Tate/LaBianca murders and was the court's star witness – might also make their way to the screen. There are more victims, too: Steven Parent, Leno LaBianca, and Rosemary LaBianca also lost their lives to the Manson Family.

But of course, Tarantino has already told us this story is "not Charles Manson, it's 1969." So maybe those lingering names won't matter to the film he's cooking up. Either way, we can't wait to find out more about Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which hits theaters on July 26, 2019.