Once Upon A Time In Hollywood Cast: All The Key Cameos To Look Out For

Daniel Welsh

Warning: This article contains minor spoilers for Quentin Tarantino’s new film Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.

As is usually the case with Quentin Tarantino’s films, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood has proved to be a huge talking point.

Despite a largely positive response from critics, the film has proved controversial to some, mostly due to the director’s choice to set his new story around the time of Sharon Tate’s murder in August 1969, at the hands of members of Charles Manson’s cult.

Once Upon A Time... has also made a splash thanks to its impressive A-list cast, headed up by Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, with Margot Robbie starring as the aforementioned Sharon Tate.

The A-list action doesn’t stop there, though, as the film is positively littered with celebrity cameos, some of whom steal their scenes completely while others are more blink-and-you’ll-miss-’em appearances.

Here’s a list of all the key cameos to look out for, laid out for you in alphabetical order... 

Al Pacino

Whether the Oscar-winning actor’s appearance in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood constitutes a cameo is up to you, seeing as he’s actually fairly high up the bill in the opening credits.

He appears fairly early on as Marvin Schwarz, a film producer who tries to get Leonardo DiCaprio’s character involved in making so-called “Spaghetti Westerns”.

Later this year, Pacino will reunite with Martin Scorsese in the upcoming Netflix film The Irishman.

Austin Butler

Former teen star Austin Butler’s role in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is probably his most high-profile to date.

He plays real-life “Manson family” member Charles “Tex” Watson, and is probably the member of the cult who receives the most screen time.

If his name sounds familiar, it might be because he was recently cast as Elvis Presley in a new biopic helmed by Moulin Rouge! director Baz Luhrmann.

Bruce Dern

In Once Upon A Time..., Bruce plays George, the owner of Spahn ranch which was once primarily used for the filming of Westerns, but becomes home to Charles Manson and his “family”.

This marks Bruce’s third time working with Quentin Tarantino, after previously starring in Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight.

George was originally supposed to be played by Burt Reynolds, who sadly died before production began. Incidentally, James Marsden was supposed to play Burt Reynolds in this film, but his scenes were ultimately cut.

Courtney Hoffman 

Courtney has a small role in the Lancer sequence, as the fictional Western’s costume designer. 

She previously worked as a real-life costume designer on the Tarantino film The Hateful Eight, as well as working on Django Unchained, where she was the personal costumer of Christoph Waltz.

In 2017, she made her directorial debut on the short film The Good Time Girls.

Real-life make-up artist Heba Thorisdottir also puts in an appearance in the same scene, fitting Leonardo DiCaprio’s character with his fake moustache.

Dakota Fanning

Still probably best known for her work as a child star, Dakota Fanning’s role in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is far from family friendly.

She plays Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, a member of the Manson family who is revealed to have a particularly close relationship with George, the owner of the Spahn ranch.

Throughout Manson’s murder trials, Fromme protested his innocence, eventually being sent to prison years later, for her attempt to assassinate U.S. President Gerald Ford.

Damian Lewis

Damian stars as real-life actor Steve McQueen during the Once Upon A Time In Hollywood party scene set at the Playboy mansion.

While on screen, he rather bitterly outlines the relationships between Sharon Tate, Roman Polanski and Jay Sebring, suggesting he “never stood a chance” with the actress.

In real life, he had been invited to party at Sharon Tate’s house on the night of her murder, but eventually declined in favour of a night in with his girlfriend.

It has been suggested that Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Rick Dalton is, in part, inspired by Steve McQueen, particularly when it comes to their similar career trajectories. 

Damon Herriman

Damon has a small, but significant, role in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, starring as cult leader Charles Manson, whose “family” members are key in the film’s final act.

What’s interesting is that while much was made about the film’s Manson connections in the lead-up to its release, Charles Manson appears just once, in a scene where he drives to Sharon Tate’s house in the Twinkies van he supposedly used in real life.

The actor also reprises his role as Charles Manson in the second series of Netflix’s original series Mindhunter.

Emile Hirsch

Emile has an important role in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, appearing as hairstylist and ex-boyfriend of Sharon Tate’s, Jay Sebring.

Despite no longer being in a relationship with Sharon when the events of the film take place, the two were still maintained a close bond.

In real life, he was among the guests at her Hollywood home on the night that she was murdered by members of the Manson cult, when she was eight months pregnant.

Kurt Russell

Kurt plays the minor role of Randy, the stunt co-ordinator on the real-life Western series Lancer, in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. 

This marks his third collaboration with Quentin Tarantino, previously appearing in The Hateful Eight and Tarantino’s segment of the double-feature horror film Grindhouse.

As well as appearing on screen, he serves as the narrator of Tarantino’s latest big-screen offering.

Kate Berlant

Best known for her work as a stand-up comedian, with particularly absurdist and surreal routines, Kate plays the small role of the cinema ticket saleswoman in Once Upon A Time..., who fails to recognise Sharon Tate when she stops by to watch her own film.

Kate recently appeared in the dark comedy Sorry To Bother You, starring as the small role of Diana DeBauchery.

Lena Dunham 

The Girls creator appears as “Gypsy”, another of the Manson cult members, who initially welcomes Brad Pitt’s character to ranch when he arrives with Pussycat, but turns cold towards him when he becomes suspicious.

Once Upon A Time... marks Lena’s second time appearing in a cult-centric project, previously appearing in one episode of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story in 2017.

Luke Perry

Luke – best known for his roles in teen shows Riverdale and Beverley Hills, 90210 – stars as TV actor Wayne Maunder in the real-life Western series Lancer.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood marks his final appearance on screen, following his death earlier this year at the age of 52.

Margaret Qualley 

Prior to her appearance in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, Margaret was probably best known for her role as Ann Reinking in the miniseries Fosse/Verdon.

In Tarantino’s new film, she plays a fictional member of the Manson cult, who captures the attention of Brad Pitt’s stuntman character, inviting him to take a look around the ranch where they are living.

Next year, she’ll take on a lead role in the drama My Salinger Year, opposite Sigourney Weaver and Douglas Booth. 

Maya Hawke

An unknown this time a year ago, 2019 has been a big one for Maya Hawke, first appearing in the BBC’s adaptation of Little Women, and later Stranger Things.

In Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, she plays the real-life Manson cult member Linda Kasabian, who is seen outside Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate’s home with the intention of killing them.

Maya’s mother is actress Uma Thurman, who previously worked with Quentin Tarantino on Kill Bill and Pulp Fiction.

Michael Madsen

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood marks Michael Madsen’s fourth time working with Quentin Tarantino, previously starring in both Kill Bill films and, more recently, The Hateful Eight.

The former Celebrity Big Brother star’s appearance in Tarantino’s latest is very much a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it one, appearing in a flashback to an episode of Rick Dalton’s old show Bounty Law.

Mike Moh 

Mike’s Once Upon A Time... cameo is probably the most famous, after Bruce Lee’s family admitted they were less than impressed with the depiction of him in the film.

He appears twice in the film, once in the much-discussed fight scene with Cliff Booth, played by Brad Pitt, and again helping Sharon Tate with a stunt scene in her film The Wrecking Crew. 

Shortly before the film’s release, Mike admitted he felt conflicted about the scene, telling Birth Movies Death: “I’m not going to tell you what the original script had exactly, but when I read it, I was so conflicted because he’s my hero—Bruce in my mind was literally a God.

“I know people are going to be up in arms about it, but when I went into my deep dive of studying Bruce, he more than anybody wanted people to know he’s human. And I think I respect him more knowing that he had these challenges, these obstacles, just like everybody.” 

Rebecca Gayheart 

Rebecca appears briefly in a flashback scene as Cliff’s wife, who it is heavily suggested that he murdered, although this is not confirmed.

The model and actress previously appeared opposite Rose McGowan in the cult teen film Jawbreaker, with her other credits including the Ryan Murphy TV drama Nip/Tuck and, more recently, the crime drama Grey Lady.

Rumer Willis

Rumer Willis appears in a short sequence as actress Joanna Pettet, the best friend of Hollywood star Sharon Tate.

Like co-stars Margaret Qualley and Maya Hawke, Rumer is the daughter of famous parents (Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, for those not in the know), but previously appeared in films like The House Bunny and the horror film Sorority Row. She also had a recurring role in the TV drama Empire.

She was also a contestant on the US reality series The Masked Singer.

Sydney Sweeney

Sydney’s part in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is, again, a relatively small one, but also forms a big part of her ascent into the mainstream.

Last year, she appeared as a new character in the second series of The Handmaid’s Tale, while UK viewers can look forward to her forthcoming role in the American drama series Euphoria, which has already won huge critical acclaim across the pond.

She plays Dianne “Snake” Lake, appearing alongside Margaret Qualley in several scenes of Once Upon A Time...

Timothy Olyphant

Timothy stars as James Stacey, the actor who starred in the lead of Lancer, the Western series Rick Dalton makes a guest appearance in.

His recent credits include a lead role in the Netflix zombie series Santa Clarita Diet, the romantic comedy Mother’s Day and the upcoming comedy-drama The Starling, which he’ll appear in alongside Melissa McCarthy and Chris O’Dowd.

Zoë Bell

Zoë is among the cast’s most impressive members, working not just as an actress but a stuntwoman.

First working with Tarantino as a stunt performer in Kill Bill and its sequel, before carrying on in Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchained. The Hateful Eight marked her first time she and the director worked on a project in which she was just acting, while Once Upon A Time In Hollywood sees her wearing both her actress and stunt co-ordinator hats.

In the film, she plays Janet, the wife of Kurt Russell’s character, Randy.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is in UK cinemas now.

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