Quentin Tarantino was 'nervous' about directing Al Pacino in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Most of the publicity surrounding the just-released Once Upon a Time in Hollywood has concentrated on writer-director Quentin Tarantino and the filmmaker’s three leads, Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, and Margot Robbie. But Tarantino’s 1969-set Tinseltown fable has a stacked supporting cast, which includes Kurt Russell, Dakota Fanning, stuntwoman-turned-actress Zoë Bell, Timothy Olyphant, the late Luke Perry, Bruce Dern, and Al Pacino, a Tarantino newbie who plays movie producer Marvin Schwarzs.
“We’ve kind of become friends in the last two years,” Tarantino tells EW, talking about his casting of The Godfather series actor. “So, we’ve really got to know each other a little bit. I’ve had him come over to my house, and read some material for a play I was writing, and so he helped me out on that, it was really cool. So, I wrote the role for him. So, it was great to work with Al Pacino and Leo for the first time in a scene together, but also just to hear Al Pacino say my dialog.”
Despite their friendship, Tarantino admits to having contracted a case of the jitters before shooting began with Pacino.
“It’s funny, I was nervous the first day,” says the filmmaker. “I was nervous on the first day with Al. I was just nervous about how it was going to start. Is he one of these guys that the first day is kind of a wash? You know, that’s just him getting comfortable and getting used to it, you know, and the second day it starts getting better. Or is it going to start happening right now? I was just a little nervous. And my first AD (assistant director), I think, was actually kind of surprised when he realized I was a little bit [nervous]. ‘Al loves you.’ ‘I know he loves me. I don’t know how to push this at the beginning. I mean, I’ll know once we get going, but I’m kind of not sure what to do at the beginning. I don’t know what he needs.’ And my first AD thought it was kind of cute.”
So, what kind of direction does Pacino require at this point in his career? A little? A lot?
“I almost have to think about that for a second,” says Tarantino. “He wants direction. He wants direction, but kind of more direction of like, You’re a good audience member. ‘Yeah, I think you can hit these jokes a little bit more and I think this could be a little faster. I think you need to be more direct in this. You’re kind of walking around it a little bit. Go right at him. Get more aggressive.’ And things like that.”
Watch the trailer for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood below.
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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood