Quentin Tarantino never reached out to Roman Polanski regarding Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. That much he revealed back in May, when the film first debuted at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. However, the estranged Oscar-winning filmmaker did reach out to him.
In a new interview with Deadline, Tarantino revealed that Polanski had his people reach out to him following the film’s production. For context, Polish actor Rafał Zawierucha appears as Polanski briefly in Once Upon a Time… opposite Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate. Polanski and Tate were married at the time of her grisly murder in August 1969, and Tate was even pregnant with their first child.
“What happened was…look, when it comes to Roman Polanski we’re talking about a tragedy that would be unfathomable for most human beings. I mean there’s Sharon, there’s his unborn son that literally lived without ever being born,” Tarantino explained. “That’s just a crazy sentence even to say. I felt that the story of her death, and the Manson tragedy had moved into legit history.
“So it actually is of historical importance beyond just his own personal tragedy,” he continued. “So I felt I was on OK grounds there. I didn’t want to call him and talk to him while I was writing it because I’m not going to ask him permission. I’m going to do it, all right? I don’t think he needed any anxiety and I didn’t need any anxiety as far as that was concerned.
“However, after it was finished, he got wind of it and he reached out through a mutual friend,” Tarantino digressed. “That friend called me and said, so what’s up with this? He said that Roman wasn’t mad. He didn’t call up irate or anything. He was just curious. What is this? So what I did was … Roman’s obviously stuck in Europe. I had the friend come over and read the script. He came to my house. He read the script simply so he could call Roman up and tell him the idea and what’s in it. And basically that he didn’t have anything to worry about.”
Tarantino went on to say that Polanski felt better. That message clearly didn’t make it to Polanski’s wife, French actress Emmanuelle Seigner, who slammed the film shortly after its Cannes debut on social media. At the time, she wrote, “I am just saying that it doesn’t bother them [in Hollywood] to make a film which takes Roman and his tragic story… while at the same time they have made him a pariah. And all without consulting him of course.”
Polanski continues to make films in Europe since fleeing America after pleading guilty to statutory rape in 1977. He remains a US fugitive. In May 2018, he was banned from The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for violating the organization’s Standards of Conduct. Although Polanski threatened to take legal action against the organization in April, The Academy has stood by their decision.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood hits theaters July 25th.