Fans have been waiting four years for Quentin Tarantino to make another movie after his ice-cold revisionist western The Hateful Eight. His latest, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (the second to last movie he’ll ever make before retiring), is a sprawling crime saga about the Manson family murders and how a fictional TV actor and his stunt double tie into them.
The movie has a stellar ensemble cast that includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Al Pacino, and Margot Robbie. So, based on their various illustrious careers in the film industry, here are 10 actors in the cast of Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, ranked.
10 Damian Lewis
Finally escaping the trappings of TV acting and moving into feature films, Damian Lewis has been cast to play movie star Steve McQueen in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Lewis has given fine performances in shows like Homeland and Billions, but it’ll be interesting to see if he can hold his own in a cast populated with as many A-list heavyweights and screen veterans as this one.
Due to his lack of feature film credits and his less-than-overwhelming TV performances, Lewis ranks quite low among the cast of his new movie, so there’s a lot riding on his performance in this one.
9 Emile Hirsch
Emile Hirsch isn’t the biggest movie star in the world, but he has shown his impressive range with an eclectic mix of roles. He starred in the zany romantic comedy The Girl Next Door, the LGBTQ rights activist biopic Milk, the Afghanistan-set war drama Lone Survivor, and the darkly comic Southern Gothic thriller Killer Joe, giving impressive performances in each one.
Perhaps his most famous role is as the lead in the Sean Penn-directed biopic Into the Wild, which is one of the most underrated and highly acclaimed movies of the 21st century. In Tarantino’s latest, he’ll be playing Jay Sebring, one of the people murdered by the Manson family.
8 Luke Perry
In the ‘90s, Luke Perry was one of the biggest stars in the world, thanks to his teen idol charm and his role as Dylan McKay on Beverly Hills, 90210, and he seemed to be a has-been. But then he got a comeback in the form of the part of Fred Andrews on Riverdale, the CW’s dark and surreal drama series adapted from Archie Comics.
That’s what made it so sad when he passed away a couple of weeks ago at the relatively young age of 52. At least he’d already filmed all his scenes for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, so he’ll get a proper swansong.
7 Lena Dunham
In Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Lena Dunham will play Catherine Share, one of the members of the Manson family. Share was not directly involved with the Sharon Tate murders, but she was linked to the organization. Dunham is best known for her HBO series Girls and her book Not That Kind of Girl, as well as supporting roles in movies like This is 40.
Due to her outspoken feminist and left-wing views, Dunham has become one of the biggest celebrities of the past few years. Whether people agree with her or not, they’ll generally have at least heard of her.
6 Dakota Fanning
Dakota Fanning will play Manson family member Lynette Fromme. We haven’t heard much from Fanning such she grew up and stopped being cute and her sister Elle Fanning stole the spotlight.
Whether she was working for Steven Spielberg in a supporting capacity or carrying her own vehicle, there was a reason Fanning was the biggest child actor in the world throughout the ‘00s. She’s genuinely talented, and while we saw that talent in its rawest form during her childhood, it’ll be interesting to see how she’s honed her craft as an adult. Her performances might be more considered and nuanced now that she’s older.
5 Bruce Dern
Bruce Dern will play partially blind rancher George Spahn in the movie. Burt Reynolds was initially cast in the role, but was replaced by Bruce Dern after his unfortunate recent passing. Dern has worked with Tarantino a couple of times before, on Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight. In both of those movies, he gave terrific turns as despicable characters, so there’s no doubt he’ll do the same with Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Few actors can adapt like Dern can. As a young man, he gave bright-eyed performances in movies like Silent Running, while in more recent years, he’s been playing older, more cynical, more grizzled characters in acclaimed movies like Nebraska.
4 Brad Pitt
From the recently released trailer, it seems as though Pitt’s character in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood will be similar to Aldo Raine, his character in Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. Aldo also had a thick Southern accent, country-boy charm, and a great sense of humor.
It’s the kind of role Pitt plays best and Tarantino drew it out of him, because one of his biggest strengths as a director is reading actors and their skill sets and then exploiting that for their best performances. The persona might even be more strongly defined and honed in its second incarnation than it was in the first.
3 Al Pacino
Al Pacino has never worked with Quentin Tarantino before, but in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, he’ll be playing a talent agent named Marvin Shwarz. Pacino rarely fails to deliver a fantastic performance. As an Oscar, Emmy, and Tony Award winner, he’s one of the few actors to have received the “Triple Crown of Acting.”
He once laid claim to the title of greatest actor in the world with movies like The Godfather, Dog Day Afternoon, and Serpico. However, in recent years, he’s let himself down with not-so-great movies like Righteous Kill, Stand Up Guys, Danny Collins – and let’s not forget when he played himself in Jack and Jill.
2 Margot Robbie
Margot Robbie has been cast to play Sharon Tate, the actress who was married to Roman Polanski when the followers of Charles Manson murdered her in her home. Despite her relatively humble beginnings on the Australian soap opera scene, Robbie’s stardom has taken off and continued to rise over the past couple of years.
Her portrayal of Harley Quinn was the only thing that made Suicide Squad even remotely worth watching, her darkly comic take on the role of Tonya Harding established her as a viable leading lady, and her turn as Jordan Belfort’s wife Naomi in The Wolf of Wall Street was one of the finest performances in recent years.
1 Leonardo DiCaprio
In his second collaboration with Quentin Tarantino after his chilling portrayal of slaver Calvin Candie in Django Unchained, Leonardo DiCaprio is playing TV actor Rick Dalton. DiCaprio has been the greatest working actor now for some time, with his collaborations with Martin Scorsese standing out as some of the finest films of the 21st century.
Following in the tradition of the greats like Jack Nicholson and Dustin Hoffman, DiCaprio throws himself wholeheartedly into every role and defines himself as an entirely new character each time, thanks to method acting and attention to the little things. You just don’t see that kind of commitment from actors anymore, but DiCaprio remains a beacon of light that keeps hope alive.