Details have been revealed about a cut Charles Manson scene in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Directed by Quentin Tarantino, the movie features Australian actor Damon Herriman as the infamous American criminal, though many of his his filmed scenes didn’t make the theatrical version. Herriman also portrays Manson in Netflix's Mindhunter season 2.
In 1968, Manson formed music relationships with The Beach Boys’ Dennis Wilson and music producer Terry Melcher. The following year, he moved from Hollywood to Spahn Movie Ranch, where he became known as a spiritual guru, and lived with many followers while preparing for a race war known as “Helter Skelter.” On the evening of August 8, 1969, four Manson Family members traveled to the former home of the aforementioned Melcher, which was then owned by filmmaker Roman Polanski and wife Sharon Tate. Ultimately, the Manson Family murdered Tate and four others. In Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, fictional character Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) lives next to Tate and Polanski on Cielo Drive. Herriman makes one brief appearance as Manson during an early 1969 sequence.
On Twitter, Empire Features Editor Nick de Semlyen revealed details about a cut Manson scene that originally appeared in the Once Upon a Time in Hollywood trailer. Per the journalist, he viewed the sequence in an editing bay. The moment in question takes place during a mid-movie flashback sequence when stuntman Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) works atop the Dalton residence while Tate (Margot Robbie) dances nearby in her home. According to Semlyen, Manson appears on Cielo Drive, locks eyes with Cliff, and does karate moves. He then states, “F**k you, Jack,” to which Cliff mutters to himself, “What the f**k was that?” Check out de Semlyen's Tweet below:
This trailer shot of Manson that wasn’t in the film? I was lucky enough to see the deleted scene in the edit bay. Manson locks eyes with Cliff on the roof, does weird karate moves while scatting, then yells, “Fuck you, Jack!” Cliff mutters to himself, “What the fuck was that?” pic.twitter.com/kcLFEfEPRV— Nick de Semlyen (@NickdeSemlyen) August 22, 2019
Plus, Empire published an article that expands on the deleted scene with extra contextual information from Tarantino himself. Columbia reportedly wanted to keep the Manson-Booth confrontation, but Tarantino was focused on “knowing where the drama was,” along with the “audience’s reaction.” The scene was ultimately cut to shift directly to a scene between DiCaprio and young actress Julia Butters. Tarantino noted:
“When I stayed there just a little bit longer to have Cliff and Charlie share their moment, it seemed like I was five minutes behind the drama from that point on. It didn’t feel right.”
In Netflix’s Mindhunter, Herriman appears in just one extended sequence as Manson, but receives the opportunity to display his full character interpretation. According to the actor, though, he understands why Tarantino made certain editing choices and was reportedly happy with his experiences on set.
Despite the mostly positive reviews for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Tarantino’s film has polarized some viewers, whether it’s the depiction of Bruce Lee or Robbie’s lack of screen time as Tate. Still, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood effectively subverts audience expectations in how Tarantino blends facts with fiction while incorporating a Manson subplot.