It may not have been the flashiest performance (that would be tough in a movie with Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, AND Al Pacino), but Damian Lewis delivered some much-needed exposition in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. As Steve McQueen, the Billions star explained Sharon Tate’s relationship with director Roman Polanski and hairstylist/third-wheel Jay Sebring to a party-goer, and us, the viewers.
In a new interview with GQ, Lewis detailed what it’s like to receive a phone call from (a presumably excitable) Quentin Tarantino asking you to be in his movie:
“Look, I’m doing this movie… Steve McQueen’s in it, man… and I’ve just always thought, man, that you’d be a great Steve McQueen… and will you come and do my movie?”
Lewis said yes, obviously, although there was some hesitation. Not about the script, but his costume, specifically, his wig. “I just felt a bit like, basically, if Jon Bon Jovi was playing Robert Redford who was trying to play Steve McQueen — that’s sort of who I looked like. And it didn’t feel quite Steve McQueen enough. Because at least one of those people isn’t very cool,” he said. “It was too straight-flowing, and it just looked a bit sort of ’80s soft rock.” The wig was adjusted to what ends up in the film (“A bit sort of curlier and unkempt and matted”), but to be honest, I would not have minded seeing Brody from Homeland as Steve McQueen looking like the lead singer from Air Supply.
Distracting? Sure. But it would have looked cool as hell.