By Clark Collis
July 23, 2019 at 11:00 AM EDT
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Quentin Tarantino had previously worked with Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt on 2012’s Django Unchained and 2009’s Inglourious Basterds, respectively. So, did the filmmaker write their roles in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (out Friday) with the pair in mind?

“Well, that would have been kind of silly!” Tarantino says, with a laugh. “I really did not know if I was going to get, like, the greatest casting coup of the century. No, I hoped it would work out with those guys. But the thing about it was, to be realistic about it, I couldn’t count on that.”

In the film, DiCaprio plays a lacking-in-confidence TV actor whose career is on the slide named Rick Dalton while Pitt is his more carefree stunt double, Cliff Booth. What if the two actors had come to Tarantino and said, “We love the script, we want to be in the film, but we’d like to play the other part?”

“Everyone wanted to play Cliff,” says Tarantino, laughing again. “Everyone wanted to play Cliff. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Leo as an actor [because], he wanted to play Cliff, but he knew he was better for Rick.”

Why?

“He’s just better,” says the director. “I could see him as the star of a TV show. And, also, most stunt guys that are teamed up with actors, are usually 10 years older than the actor.”

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood costars Margot Robbie, who plays real-life actress Sharon Tate. The film’s cast also includes Al Pacino, Kurt Russell, Margaret Qualley, Luke Perry, Timothy Olyphant, and Dakota Fanning, among others.

Watch the trailer for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, above.

To read more from the August issue of Entertainment Weekly, pick up a copy when it hit stands on July 25-26. You can buy all five covers, or purchase your individual favorites featuring Arrow, The FlashSupergirlWhite Canary, and BatwomanDon’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.

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