If you’ve seen Once Upon a Time In Hollywood, nothing in this post will be a spoiler. If you haven’t seen the film, I’ll be as cryptic as possible: Quentin Tarantino purposefully leaves the audience unsure about whether Brad Pitt’s character’s relationships with women. The ambiguity is probably Tarantino’s way of showing the “not every predator is all-bad, and not every good guy does the right thing” argument. Which is interesting given… well, Brad Pitt’s own life these days, and why Angelina Jolie ghosted him and filed for divorce and all that. It’s also interesting given the additional context of Tarantino’s long-time creative partnership with Harvey Weinstein, a serial predator, abuser, rapist and sexual harasser. But sure, let’s have Brad Pitt make a Harvey Weinstein reference in a discussion about “end of an era” Hollywood.
There are always events in history which mark the end of an era. During an interview with The Sunday Times, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood costars Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio opened up about the massive impact the Manson family murders, which are depicted in the new film, had on Hollywood — and the parallels that can be seen today.
“When my parents described it, it was as the end of this idealized revolution,” DiCaprio, 44, explained. “My parents are still hippies, but it was the loss of this dream. As Quentin [Tarantino] describes, you sort of portray this utopia, but there is a mildew around the canvas that brought the darkness of humanity into play and ended a lot of my parents’ hopes for how they could infuse that ‘love and peace’ ideology into the rest of the world. It all sort of crashed, and ended so much that some talk of it as a conspiracy. It was the total end of an era — immediately.”
Pitt, who was 5 years old at the time of Tate’s death, also weighed in: “People started locking doors again. We were coming off a tumultuous decade of assassinations and the free-love and civil rights movements, and, as I understand it, there was still hope. But when this hit? And even rich white celebrities were in danger? No one was safe. Even people living the dream.”
When asked if anything has “rattled Hollywood” in a similar way, Pitt was quick to respond. “Harvey Weinstein,” he replied, later asking: “Can I say that?” After Pitt questioned whether his response was in “bad taste,” he was asked if he was referring to, as the writer put it, “a similar loss of innocence in a world that was cocooned and thought of in a glorified way. It’s more that I think we’re getting recalibrated,” Pitt clarified. “But in a good way.”
In addition to speaking about Weinstein, the two stars talked about masculinity and how the idea around it has changed.
“When I started, I loved Mickey Rourke and Sean Penn,” Pitt told the newspaper. “I loved them because there was a toughness to them, which was how the male I’d grown up being taught about was meant to be. But they were also vulnerable, raw and open, and I always appreciated that. What I see now is a new masculinity, especially with people who have gone through Hollywood and its recalibration, a new male who is more vulnerable. I’m not talking mushiness — I mean a man who owns his own flaws and is aware of them and open about it. And vulnerable, with real feelings, rather than being this macho, trying-to-be-tough guy. But that might just be me in my old age, on my own trip, projecting onto everyone else.”
Sean Penn and Mickey Rourke were both accused of assaulting girlfriends too, but when they were young, those were the two guys most young actors wanted to be. I’m not sure what that means.
What do you think of Brad’s comparison to the Weinstein situation being an “end of an era” in Hollywood similar to the Manson murders? I don’t know. It’s difficult to judge whether the Weinstein situation really changed anything, because we’re not even two years past the initial revelations. Weirdly, I sort of see Brad’s point – the revelation with the Weinstein situation was that Weinstein was preying on every type of woman, even massively famous women, women who everyone assumed were “protected” by money and fame and access. That was what made the #MeToo movement so powerful and so tragic – the realization that so many men are abusive scum and that so many women, from all backgrounds and socio-economic statuses, were all victims and survivors. But did Hollywood change after that? To be continued…
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Backgrid.