Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: Leonardo DiCaprio improvised trailer meltdown scene in Tarantino film

Actor drew on his personal career frustrations for the stand-out sequence

Ellie Harrison
Tuesday 05 November 2019 10:24
Once Upon A Time In... Hollywood - Trailer

One of the most iconic scenes in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was conceived and entirely improvised by Leonardo DiCaprio, it has been revealed.

The scene in question sees DiCaprio’s ageing TV star character Rick Dalton have a meltdown in his trailer after forgetting his lines due to drinking.

In the sequence, which did not appear in Tarantino’s original script, DiCaprio throws various objects around his trailer and berates himself in the mirror.

Speaking at a post-screening Q&A at Tarantino’s New Beverly Cinema, the director said: “It wasn’t in the script actually, so we never rehearsed it or anything. Leo had a whole thing. At some point it was like, ‘Look, I need I need to f*** up during the “Lancer” sequence, all right?

"And when I f*** up during the “Lancer” sequence, I need to have a real crisis of confidence about it and I have to come back from that.'”

Tarantino then refined DiCaprio’s idea and came up with the in-trailer tantrum, taking inspiration from Robert De Niro’s iconic performance in Taxi Driver.

“It’s got to be like Travis Bickle when he’s in his apartment by himself,” said Tarantino, quoting his direction to DiCaprio during filming.

The director revealed DiCaprio was nervous about the improvisation. “I’ve never seen him so nervous as on the day,” he said.

DiCaprio added he drew on his personal career frustrations for the scene. “I’ve definitely had days like that,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever flipped out quite like that.”

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