Director Quentin Tarantino is no stranger to rewriting history for the sake of dramatic intrigue. So, it’s easy to imagine that for his upcoming film Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood, Tarantino took liberties with the late actor Sharon Tate’s final days as he wrote her into the film and cast Margot Robbie to portray her. But if Tarantino is making changes to history, can we expect that his version of Tate, as played by Robbie, will erase her pregnancy from the picture? If so, what does that tell us about how Tate’s life and memory will be treated in the hands of yet another male director?
Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood follows actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stuntman and good friend Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) as they try to adjust to the rapidly changing times in 1969 Hollywood. Dalton’s career is waning and Booth is trying to figure out what his next move is as an aging stuntman. Both men find themselves somewhat out of their depth as the spirit of the time whisks the world into the future while they seem to be stuck. As the recent red band trailer (which you can watch below but please note there’s some language in there) shows, Rick is neighbors with the beautiful rising star, Sharon Tate. He is the audience’s surrogate as we watch Sharon grapple with her fame, her relationship with director Roman Polanski and her the final days of her life living on Cielo Drive.
Similar to Tarantino’s 2009 film Inglourious Basterds, which rewrites the events of World War II to show an outcome where Adolf Hitler was actually killed and the outcome of the war, in turn, affected monumentally, Once Upon a Time‘s trailer implies that key elements of history will be rewritten, too. For instance, Cliff becomes involved in Charles Manson’s “family” after meeting Pussycat (Margaret Qualley) but it seems like Cliff has suspicions about Manson from the get-go. It stands to reason that Tate’s life could also get a re-do with Tate surviving the Manson family attack at her home that resulted in her death, the death of her unborn child and her friends Abigail Folger, Jay Sebring and Wojciech Frykowski.
Early promotional photos of Robbie as a very not pregnant Tate made their way onto the internet back in August 2018, with subsequent trailers not showing Tate as pregnant. But there’s still a chance that this alternate version of her will end up being accurate. Did Tarantino potentially take too many liberties with Tate’s life?Especially in erasing a very crucial aspect of Tate’s history, her expecting a child with Polanski.
Interestingly, Robbie was spotted on the Once Upon a Time set sporting a prosthetic baby belly back in October 2018. As previously mentioned, Robbie’s Tate has not been seen to be pregnant in any of the other trailers or promotional photos so we have to wonder where this pregnant Tate could figure into the story — especially if Robbie’s Tate doesn’t have too much screen time in the film. If Tarantino is really rewriting history and creating an alternate history for Tate, then the most likely answer would be that not only does Tate survive the Manson family attack at her home (perhaps Rick and Cliff step in to help save her?) but she becomes pregnant with Polanski’s child after those events instead of being pregnant during the attack, which is what really happened.
Regardless of how Tate’s pregnancy is handled by Tarantino and Robbie in the film, Robbie’s portrayal of Tate has already gotten high praise from the one person whose opinion matters the most in this case: Tate’s sister, Debra Tate. Speaking with TMZ, Debra praised Robbie’s performance as seen in the trailers. According to Debra: “Depending on how Margot played it, it could’ve appeared egotistical. But, no, she did a beautiful job. Sharon did not have an egotistical bone in her body. Margot captures Sharon’s sweetness very nicely.”
August 9, 2019 will mark the 50th anniversary of Tate’s death. With other films, podcasts, books, documentaries and so forth going into the graphic reality of Tate’s actual fate, it’s nice to know that there is potentially a film envisioning a better, happier outcome for Tate at a time when remembering her will matter most.
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