‘Once Upon A Time In Hollywood’ Producers Shannon McIntosh And David Heyman Break Down The Film’s Deeper Meaning

Senior Entertainment Writer


Shannon McIntosh has worked on numerous Quentin Tarantino movies in the past, and serving as a producer on Death Proof, Django Unchained, The Hateful Eight, and now Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. David Heyman’s producing credits are vast – with entries such as Gravity and every Harry Potter film – but this is his first time working with Tarantino.

Ahead (and there are many spoilers ahead), McIntosh and Heyman take us through what it’s like to work with Tarantino, what it was like to try to market this film specifically, and the two break down the deeper meaning of the film, including the ending.

So how do you two find out Quentin has a new movie idea?

Shannon McIntosh: Well, this is David’s – I’m going to quote you David – David’s first dance. We get done making Hateful Eight, and Quentin, at some point, went under and just started writing. And then got incredibly enthusiastic about this. Some of the material existed for years, and the idea has been there for a while, but he finally dove under after Hateful Eight and brought this one to life. But there are some things he noodles for a long time, and in time it comes out.

What does “went under” mean? I’ve heard rumors he goes to a secluded cabin with only an old cassette-based answering machine.

McIntosh: That sounds like superhero quality there. I don’t think it’s a cabin on the edge of the woods, or at the end of the earth, but he gets very focused, and that’s what he’s doing. And we know we can’t reach him very much.

David Heyman: He’s not easy to reach at the best of times, because he doesn’t really use a mobile phone. He doesn’t really use the internet. I think it’s one of the things that contributes to his brilliance, because as Shannon said, he gets really focused and he’s very singular in his approach. So, I flew out to L.A., and it was quite nervewracking. Because I flew out, went to his house, and there he was – very welcoming, had a cup of coffee. And then he put me in a room and left me with a script. And that’s quite a pressured situation, because what happens if you don’t like it? I was reading the script and a couple of hours later he comes in and says, “Are you done yet?” And I was so angry and in the moment, and I said, “Get out. Get out of here!” Because I was in the third act and I was on the edge of my seat.

So what’s it like on your side of things with him? Because my only experience with him was, after calling Christoph Waltz’s character’s plan in Django a “harebrained scheme,” he wanted to debate me. Which we did. On this side of things, that kind of spontaneity is great, but I wonder if it gets challenging to, let’s say, keep up?

Heyman: Well, I mean, the thing about Quentin, one of the things that has been one of the real revelations to me, and maybe it shouldn’t be unexpected, but he’s one of the most authentic people you could meet. What you see is what you get. There’s no BS. He’s really direct. If he doesn’t like something, you know it. If he likes something, you know it, and he’s just very open in that way. So there’s no agenda. It’s just he’s incredibly honest and forthright. So yes, if he has an idea like that, if he hears you saying it’s a harebrained idea, he wants to talk about it. He wants to discuss it. By the way, he may get quite feisty and testy about it, because he’s very passionate, but that doesn’t mean it’s just about that. So I’d have really robust discussions with him about the script at a certain point, and he defends really strongly, or he attacks really strongly. But then you move on and you go onto the next thing. He enjoys that. But he’s very practical as well. We had times where we had to manage the budget and we had to make some cuts, and he was really incredibly collaborative about that. But he most certainly has his opinions, and he’s distinctly Quentin.

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