Tarantino’s ‘Once Upon A Time In Hollywood’ Novel Finally Settles The Question Of Whether Cliff Booth Killed His Wife

WARNING: Spoilers for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: A Novel will be found below.

As promised, Quentin Tarantino‘s novelization of his 2019 film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, delves deep into the backstory of Cliff Booth, the swaggering stuntman played by Brad Pitt, and arguably the film’s main star. (Sorry, Leo.) More importantly, the novel finally answers the nagging question of what really happened to Booth’s wife on that boat.

In the film, Booth is followed almost everywhere by the persistent rumor that he killed his wife and got away with it. While that’s certainly implied in a flashback scene, it’s never definitively answered, and Pitt and Rebecca Gayheart, who played Booth’s wife, have teased fans that they know the whole story.

Well, now, Pitt and Gayheart aren’t the only ones who know what happened to Cliff and his wife on that boat, and it turns out she wasn’t his first kill, as detailed by Tarantino’s novelization. Via IndieWire:

A fellow stuntman, Buster, owed Cliff money and decided to pay Cliff not in cash but in him becoming co-owner of the pitbull, who he was entering into bloody dogfighting bouts. When Buster decided that they should let Brandy die in the ring and make money by betting on her opponent instead, Cliff was so enraged that he killed the guy with his bare hands.

“This wasn’t the first time Cliff committed murder and got away with it,” Tarantino writes. “The first time was in Cleveland in the fifties. The second time was when Cliff killed his wife two years earlier. This was the third time, and Cliff got away with this one too.”

Condolences to all the Cliff Booth fans out there who hoped that the handsome rogue with his ripped abs would end up not being a wife murderer. Although, after the film’s bloody ending, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that Pitt’s character is not the most stable guy.

(Via IndieWire)