There’s always been a healthy element of fanfiction operating in Quentin Tarantino’s films—never more so than in 2019's Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood, which very deliberately inserts characters of Tarantino’s own creation into the mythos of 1960s Hollywood. The most prominent of these, of course, being Bounty Law star Rick Dalton (played in the film by Leonardo DiCaprio), who—Tarantino appears to have decided—died today. Like, today today. May 19, 2023. Earlier this afternoon!
This is per no less authoritative a source than the Twitter account for Tarantino’s Video Archives podcast, which the filmmaker does with his long-time friend, director Roger Avary. Said Twitter account piped up today—apropos of nothing, as far as we can tell—to declare that, in the fictional world of the movie’s universe, Rick Dalton popped his clogs earlier this afternoon, at age 90.
We’re not gonna lie: We find this slightly hard to believe, given what a hard-drinking, miserable guy Rick is in the film’s 1969 setting; him lasting another 54 years seems pretty damn improbable, given his proximity to a) copious booze, b) that flamethrower, and especially c), his old pal/occasional murder suspect Cliff Booth (played by Brad Pitt in the film, and revealed to be a pretty unrepentant killer in Tarantino’s own novelization of his movie). See also our skepticism that Rick stayed married to wife Francesca Capucci for all this time, given that they were barely speaking to each other by the time the film’s climax rolls around.
But, hey, who are we to argue with Tarantino’s additions to his own work? Once Upon A Time… already ends on an incredibly unlikely happy ending, so maybe Rick getting his act right and living to 90 before dying peacefully in his Hawaii home is actually just as possible. In any case, the podcast’s Twitter account also announced that it’s going to be doing an episode about Dalton’s filmography, so if you’ve ever wanted to hear Tarantino do what we’re going to assume will be an extended riff on a whole bunch of alternate universe movies and TV shows that exist entirely in his own head, you’ve got that to look forward to, now.