Even though he’s flirted with the notion on occasion, whether it be his brief dalliance with Luke Cage in the 1990s, teasing the team of John Travolta and Michael Madsen for a Vega Brothers movie, or even his infrequent mentions of Kill Bill Vol. 3, Quentin Tarantino has never been too concerned with franchises, sequels, spinoffs or the like.
He did re-edit The Hateful Eight into a Netflix miniseries as an experiment, though, but he doesn’t really have much time or interest in returning to the well when he claims that his next feature will be both his tenth and his last. However, he has significantly expanded the universe of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood by putting his own spin on the tie-in novelization, and he’s not done yet.
In an interview with Empire, the filmmaker revealed he’s going even more meta with his latest literary endeavor The Films of Rick Dalton, which is written in-canon by a fictional version of himself that exists in the alternate Hollywood history of the film. Got that?
“That is written by me, by Quentin Tarantino, in 1999. Because in this pretext, Rick retires and moves to Hawaii. And so I go, in 1998, to the Hawaii International Film Festival. I’m there, and Roger Ebert’s there, and I’m seeing films. And then one of the festival people goes, ‘Hey, so is there anybody in Hawaii that you’d like to meet?’ You go, ‘Well, who’s worth meeting here in Hawaii?’ ‘Well, Don Ho’s here, and this one is here, and that one’s here. Rick Dalton’s here…’ ‘Woah, woah, Rick Dalton? I wondered what the fuck happened to that guy!’ ‘Well, he retired in 1988, and him and his wife Francesca [Lorenza Izzo’s character, who Rick marries in the film], they moved to Hawaii…’. So they arrange a lunch. He comes down to the hotel that I’m staying at, and there’s Rick! He’s about 40 pounds heavier, but there he is.
So we have a ball, and he’s a really nice fellow, and my movie shows and he comes to the screening. He shows up usually every year for a couple of screenings, he’s long since retired – and I have such a good time with him that the next year, ’99, I arrange a Rick Dalton retrospective. We show some prints of his movies, have a nice little thing for him, and he likes that. And then that spurs me to write an appreciation of his career called ‘The Man Who Would Be McQueen: The Films Of Rick Dalton’. And so I write it, and it’s prefaced by this huge Q&A that I had with Rick at that time. It’s all written. It exists!”
Even if he does step away from behind the camera to end his association with the silver screen after his next movie, there are plenty of mediums for Tarantino to tackle so that he doesn’t end up getting bored. Based on what’s happening to Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, he’s clearly got the ambition and imagination for it.