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.

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