Quentin Tarantino‘s 1969-set film industry fable Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (out July 26) features several cast members who actually were working actors in Los Angeles during the ’60s. Kurt Russell, who narrates the movie and also plays a stunt coordinator named Randy, was still a teenager in 1969, but the future Escape From New York star was also a Hollywood veteran, having made his film debut in the 1962 Elvis Presley vehicle, It Happened at the World’s Fair, which found Russell kicking The King in his shin. Soon after, he scored a starring role on the short-lived ABC Western show The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters and throughout the decade was a regular presence on America’s TV sets, thanks to guest spots on The Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Fugitive, and Gilligan’s Island, among other series.
According to Tarantino, Russell’s recollections of the era were a valuable resource in helping keep Once Upon a Time in Hollywood as true-to-life as possible.
“Kurt is absolutely the youngest guy that I can work with, who actually lived that life,” says the director. “He did The Virginian, he did High Chaparral, he did these shows. He was doing them when he was a boy. There’s a very famous Lost in Space episode that he did. He starts in, like, ’64 or ’65 at 12 and is about 17 or 18 around the time we’re talking about. Before he passed on, I could talk to Burt Reynolds about it, I can talk to Bruce Dern about it. They’re older men. Kurt had the similar situation that they had, except it happened when he was younger. So, he really knows how authentic I am or not in the course of this piece. He’s also the son of a Western character actor (Bing Russell), so that was his life too. There’s almost nobody that Kurt didn’t work with at one point or other in his career. And just when I think I’ve talked to Kurt about everybody I can talk [to him about], I find some interesting actor on some show that did something interesting, and I wasn’t quite familiar with the guy, and I look him up, and it turns out that, like him and Kurt had a TV show together! [Laughs] ‘This guy?’ ‘Oh, that guy? Let me tell you about that guy.”
Watch the trailer for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, below.
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