Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: How Do the Actors Compare to Their Real-Life Counterparts?
Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate
A young actress known for Valley of the Dolls and The Fearless Vampire Killers, Sharon Tate married director Roman Polanski in 1968. She was murdered in their home in Benedict Canyon on Aug. 9, 1969, by the Charles Manson "Family." She was 8 months pregnant with the couple's first child at the time of her death.
After seeing the film, Tate's sister, Debra, told Vanity Fair, “[Margot Robbie] did such a damn good job that, for me, personally, the visit was a little short. I had Sharon back in front of me again, and it was too short a visit.”
Rafał Zawierucha as Roman Polanski
The year before the murders, Polanski gained notoriety with his film, Rosemary’s Baby. The famed director was not present for the murders (he was in London working on The Day of the Dolphin).
Polanski pled guilty to engaging in unlawful sexual intercourse in 1977 after 13-year-old Samantha Geimer accused him of getting her drunk and giving her part of a quaalude. He went on to serve 42 days in jail due to the plea bargain but fled the U.S. when ordered to serve the remainder of his 90-day sentence. He's remained a fugitive and hasn't had much love from Hollywood since.
Polanski’s current wife, Emmanuelle Seigner, spoke out against her husband’s inclusion in the movie — by Polish actor Zawierucha — saying Tarantino was “using the tragic life of someone and then walking all over them.”
Emile Hirsch as Jay Sebring
Hirsch plays Sebring, who dated Tate just before she met Polanski. A hairdresser to the stars whose clients ranged from Paul Newman to Frank Sinatra, he stayed close friends to Tate and Polanski, and was murdered with Tate by Manson’s followers.
Damian Lewis as Steve McQueen
Lewis plays close friend of Sebring and Tate: the “King of Cool,” Steve McQueen. McQueen was an Oscar-nominated actor known for films like The Magnificent Seven, The Thomas Crown Affair and The Sand Pebbles. He was invited to Tate’s house the night of the murders, but according to McQueen’s ex-wife, he “ran into a chickie and decided to go off with her instead.”
James Marsden as Burt Reynolds
Unfortunately, Marsden’s portrayal of Reynolds was cut from the film, but he did get a shout-out in the credits.
Interestingly, the late Reynolds, who died in September 2018 at the age of 82, was originally cast in the movie to play George Spahn, a rancher who allowed Charles Manson and his followers to stay on his property. Reynolds died before getting the chance to film the movie, and the role went to Bruce Dern instead.
Bruce Dern as George Spahn
Dern plays Spahn, who owned the ranch that Manson and his followers lived on in the late 1960s. Previously, the property had been used as the set for many Western films.
Damon Herriman as Charles Manson
The Aussie actor took on the role of the infamous cult leader in the film. Manson ordered his followers to commit the Tate-LaBianca murders, also known as the Manson Family Murders, in 1969. He died in prison in 2017 at 83 years old. (Several remaining members of the "Family" are still in prison today.)
"It’s one of the harder roles that I’ve had to play, for sure," Herriman told The Hollywood Reporter. "And especially knowing that people know who he is and what he’s like, so there’s an added pressure on getting that right."
Lena Dunham as Catherine Share
While Dunham’s character, Share, was not present for the Tate-LaBianca murders, she was a follower of Manson and moved onto his ranch at 26 years old. She was arrested with other Manson Family members in 1970 for armed robbery, and served five years in prison. In 2017, Share testified in support of a parole bid by fellow cult member Leslie Van Houten. The bid was denied.
Dakota Fanning as Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme
Fanning plays Fromme, who lived at Spahn Ranch and was a devoted follower of Manson. She also worked for ranch owner Spahn. Known as Squeaky, Fromme attempted to assassinate President Gerald Ford in 1975 and was sentenced to life in prison. Fromme is now a free woman, having been released on parole in 2009.
Samantha Robinson as Abigail Folger
Robinson plays Folgers Coffee heiress Abigail Folger in the film. Folger, a former social worker, was just 25 when she was murdered at the Tate residence.
Costa Ronin as Voytek Frykowski
Frykowski was a friend of Polanski’s and boyfriend to Abigail Folger. He was also murdered by Manson’s followers at the Tate residence.
Timothy Olyphant as James Stacy
Stacy was an actor on the 1968 Western series Lancer. In the film, DiCaprio’s fictional character, Rick Dalton, is filming the pilot for the television show.
Dreama Walker as Connie Stevens
Walker is the spitting image of Stevens, who was a television and film actress who lived near the Polanski-Tate home. She was married to actor James Stacy from 1963 to 1968.
Luke Perry as Wayne Maunder
The late actor portrayed Wayne Maunder, who starred in the Western series Lancer. Maunder also starred in the police procedural show, Chase, in 1973.
Nicholas Hammond as Sam Wanamaker
Hammond portrays British actor and director Wanamaker. Wanamaker appeared in both film and television, and directed westerns like Custer and Lancer in the late '60s and early '70s.
Rumer Willis as Joanna Pettet
Willis plays Pettet, an English film actress who was close friends with Tate. On the day of the murders, the pair had lunch together.
Mike Moh as Bruce Lee
Lee was a martial arts icon and film star who was actually quite close to Tate and Polanski. He trained Tate for her film The Wrecking Crew.