Quentin Tarantino pays tribute to the late (and fictional) Rick Dalton on his Video Archives podcast
Quentin Tarantino and his Pulp Fiction co-writer Roger Avary have spent the last year chatting about old movies and marquee icons on the Video Archives podcast and their latest episode is no exception. The difference? The actor they discuss this week is fictional.
Last Friday, Tarantino announced on Twitter that Rick Dalton, the TV and film star depicted by Leonardo DiCaprio in the filmmaker's 2019 film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood had died. On Video Archives, Tarantino pays offers a puckish but straight-faced tribute to Dalton, as if he actually existed, with help from Avary and Avary's daughter Gala, one of the show's producers.
"On May 19, 2023, actor Rick Dalton passed away peacefully in his home in Honolulu, Hawaii," announces Gala at the start of the podcast. "He is survived by his wife, Francesca. Dalton was beloved by fans of Bounty Law, where he played bounty hunter Jake Cahill for five seasons and also for his iconic role as Eddie Karpinski, the flamethrower-wielding vigilante in The Fireman, The Fireman Part 2, and The Fireman 3: CIA Crackdown. But he was so much more than that, with a career that spanned over 20 years. On this episode of the Video Archives podcast, we invite you to remember Rick Dalton."
Tarantino goes on to discuss Dalton's roles, read from a book supposedly written about the actor, and even recite chunks from a Q&A the director claims to have conducted with Dalton in 1999. Along the way, we learn that Dalton wanted to play the role of the doomed Garry in John Carpenter's The Thing and that the actor's stunt double Cliff Booth (played by Brad Pitt in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) directed The Fireman Part 2 after The Warriors filmmaker Walter Hill passed on the project. Tarantino also explores how Dalton enjoyed something of a comeback during following an incident (depicted in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) when he incinerated one of Charles Manson's followers with a working prop from one of his movies.
"He also had a thing that happened with him in the late '60s where three hippies were bursting into his house, and they were tripping, and they had a gun with them, and his stunt double basically beat the brains in of two of them, and Rick set the other one on fire with the flamethrower from The 14 Fists of McCluskey," explains Tarantino. "So he got invited to, like, the Republican Convention, alright, because it became this thing for, like, Nixon's Silent Majority. And he's a lifelong Democrat but he went and they f---ing dug him. Rick was very happy being dug. But they put him on Johnny Carson after that and he was a big hit on the Johnny Carson show, and then all of a sudden, because of the notoriety, he started doing better TV shows. He went from, like, doing Land of the Giants and Green Hornet to doing Mission: Impossible."
Although Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is set in 1969, Tarantino previously revealed that he had mapped out Dalton's life and career far beyond the months covered in the film. In a 2021 interview with podcaster Jeff Goldsmith to publicize Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood novelization, the director told the host that he had written most of a book about Dalton's TV shows and movies.
"I wrote The Films of Rick Dalton book," he said. "It's written as if Rick is real. You know, they have The Films of Charles Bronson and The Films of Anthony Quinn, well, it's done like that, with synopsis and then some critical quotes from the time, and the book goes through every one of Rick's movies that he did, leading to the end of his career in 1988, I believe, and every one of his episodic television shows."
Listen to the full episode below.
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