Quentin Tarantino Expands Rick Dalton’s Backstory: John Carpenter Turned Him Down for ‘The Thing’
Quentin Tarantino is expanding the Rick Dalton lore in the remembrance of the late (and invented) movie star.
The “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” auteur announced May 19 that Dalton, played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the 2019 film, died at the age of 90. Dalton’s 1969 exploits alongside stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) were captured in Tarantino’s “Hollywood,” during which Dalton saves Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) from the Manson family would-be serial killers.
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During Tarantino and “Pulp Fiction” co-screenwriter Roger Avary’s recent entry in the “Video Archives Podcast,” Tarantino remembered the late fictional action star.
“Dalton was beloved by fans of ‘Bounty Law,’ where he played bounty hunter Jake Cahill for five seasons and also for his iconic role as Eddie Karpinski, the flamethrower-wielding vigilante in ‘The Fireman,’ ‘The Fireman Part 2,’ and ‘The Fireman 3: CIA Crackdown,'” Tarantino said. “But he was so much more than that, with a career that spanned over 20 years. On this episode of the Video Archives podcast, we invite you to remember Rick Dalton.”
Per Tarantino, Booth directed “The Fireman Part 2” after “The Warriors” helmer Walter Hill passed on the project. Actor Dalton also was turned down for the role of Garry in John Carpenter’s “The Thing” before Donald Moffat landed the part.
“He also had a thing that happened with him in the late ’60s where three hippies were bursting into his house, and they were tripping, and they had a gun with them, and his stunt double basically beat the brains in of two of them, and Rick set the other one on fire with the flamethrower from ‘The 14 Fists of McCluskey,'” Tarantino said. “So he got invited to, like, the Republican Convention, alright, because it became this thing for, like, Nixon’s Silent Majority. And he’s a lifelong Democrat but he went and they fucking dug him. Rick was very happy being dug. But they put him on Johnny Carson after that and he was a big hit on the Johnny Carson show, and then all of a sudden, because of the notoriety, he started doing better TV shows. He went from, like, doing ‘Land of the Giants’ and ‘Green Hornet’ to doing ‘Mission: Impossible.'”
Tarantino added that he conducted an interview with Dalton in 1999 for a panel Q&A event following his 1997 film “Jackie Brown.”
The “Inglourious Basterds” helmer previously detailed Dalton’s backstory in the novelization of “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”
Tarantino said during the podcast “The Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith” in 2021 that he wrote “The Films of Rick Dalton” as a book.
“It’s written as if Rick is real. You know, they have ‘The Films of Charles Bronson’ and ‘The Films of Anthony Quinn,’ well, it’s done like that, with synopsis and then some critical quotes from the time,” Tarantino said, “and the book goes through every one of Rick’s movies that he did, leading to the end of his career in 1988, I believe, and every one of his episodic television shows.”
The official Video Archives podcast Twitter page tweeted last week, “We are saddened by the news of the passing of actor Rick Dalton, best known for his roles in the hit TV series ‘Bounty Law’ and ‘The Fireman’ trilogy. Rick passed away peacefully in his home in Hawaii and is survived by his wife Francesca. RIP Rick Dalton 1933-2023.”
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