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Rafal Zawierucha Joins ‘Once Upon a Time In Hollywood’ as a Young Roman Polanski

The upcoming Tarantino film finally casts the controversial filmmaker and adds several more cast members.
Rafal Zawierucha Third Half
By  · Published on August 28th, 2018

The upcoming Tarantino film finally casts the controversial filmmaker and adds several more cast members.

To better keep track of the cast of Quentin Tarantino‘s upcoming movie Once Upon a Time In Hollywood, you’d probably be better off asking who won’t be in it. The movie, loosely based on the 1969 Manson murders, stars (I hope you’re sat down) Margot RobbieLeonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Al Pacino, Dakota Fanning, Damian Lewis, Burt Reynolds, Tim Roth, Kurt Russell, and Mike Moh, to name only a fraction of the full cast.

Up until now though, we’ve had no word on who will portray two of the more controversial figures in the story– Charles Manson and Roman Polanski. Despite the film having entered production, it might seem odd that these two roles remained uncast. However, information on what the movie is actually about is somewhat difficult to come by (check out Lindsey Romain’s piece over on /Film for the most definitive breakdown on the subject), so we can’t be sure how these two will even factor into the film at this point. And honestly, the fact that Tarantino appears to be more interested in Robbie’s Sharon Tate is rather reassuring.

However, thanks to The Hollywood Reporter, we now have word on Polanski’s casting, as well as several more additions to the cast. THR’s report states that Rafal Zawierucha will play the Chinatown director and former husband of Tate. Zawierucha certainly looks the part, and in casting a Polish actor in the role, Tarantino appears to be going for authenticity over star power in this case. Not that the film doesn’t have enough of that anyway.

This is an understandable decision, for a number of reasons. Polanski will likely only have a small role in the movie, so casting a lesser known actor from the disgraced director’s home country makes sense. In addition to this, casting a flashy big name actor in the role would be, to put it lightly, in poor taste. Polanski is a particularly controversial figure in the film industry, having avoided charges of drugging and raping a thirteen-year-old girl by fleeing to Paris in 1977.

Despite this, Polanski continued to have a career, even being showered in accolades for his 2002 film The Pianist. He may have been finally expelled from the Academy this year, but most felt the decision came about forty years too late. And the idea of having a notable actor showing up as Polanski would surely do more harm than good. Even if not intended, the move would likely only serve to humanize him and possibly make light of the whole situation. As such, while it may be difficult to avoid Polanski’s role in Tate’s story, the casting of Zawierucha is a very smart choice.

This will be the most high profile role to date for the actor, whose recent credits include Polish films like Afterimage and Plan B. He also had a small role as a Polish soldier in the David Tennant-led BBC mini-series Spies of Warsaw, about the early days of World War II.

In addition to this, we have another five names to add the Once Upon a Time In Hollywood‘s enormous cast list. First off is Sydney Sweeney, who had a breakout role in the recent season of The Handmaid’s Tale as Eden Spencer. However, she was most recently seen in the excellent Sharp Objects, the HBO mini-series adapted from the Gillian Flynn novel of the same name. In which she played Alice, a key figure in the traumatic past of Camille Preaker (Amy Adams), whose role I won’t spoil for anyone not yet caught up.

Next up is Danny Strong, whose biggest credits are actually as a screenwriter on films such as The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Parts 1 and 2 and Lee Daniel’s The Butler. His acting career is nothing to look down on, however, with roles in shows like Mad Men and Love, as well as a small part in Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping.

Also joining the ensemble is Clu Gulager. His sixty-three-year career has seen him in movies such as The Return of the Living Dead and A Nightmare on Elm Street 2, in addition to a more recent role in Sean Baker’s Tangerine. Gulager has well over a hundred screen credits and is likely an old favorite of Tarantino’s, the kind he often fills out his supporting casts with.

James Landry Hébert is the next addition to the cast, coming off the back of his role in the second season of Stranger Things. Fans of that show may not be too happy to see him on screen again, however. He portrayed Axel, a member of the gang who took in Eleven in the now infamous episode “The Lost Sister.” The episode admirably tried to take the show in a new direction, even if it is something of a misfire. None of which was Hébert’s fault though. The actor was also seen in the first season of Westworld and in Rian Johnson’s time travel thriller Looper.

And the final addition is Mikey Madison (not to be confused with Michael Madsen, also in the movie), best known for her lead role in the FX series Better Things. She’s most recently been seen alongside Jon Hamm and Bruce Dern in Nostalgia and in an adaptation of the Walter Dean Myers novel “Monster.”

As of now, nothing is known about who these five will play. This announcement also comes soon after it was revealed that Girls showrunner and lead actor Lena Dunham would be joining Once Upon a Time In Hollywood, alongside Maya Hawke, daughter of Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke. Hawke played Jo March in the recent Little Women adaption (no, not that one) on the BBC and is also set to appear in Stranger Things‘ third season. Eagle-eyed fans may have also spotted her alongside Steve Harrington (Joe Keery) in the viral video advertising Hawkins’ Starcourt Mall.

Once Upon a Time In Hollywood seems to add more and more cast members by the day, and is in no short supply of talent. While it’s unlikely that many of them, especially those being added at this point, will have particularly large roles, this has been one of the most fascinating casting processes to follow in recent memory.

Update: The Wrap reports that the role of Charles Manson has now gone to Damon Herriman. The actor is perhaps best known for his role as Dewey Crowe on Justified, but has also been seen in Russell Crowe’s The Water Diviner and in the Breaking Bad season four episode “Cornered.” In addition to this, Rumer Willis, Dreama Walker, Margaret Qualley, Costa Ronin, Victoria Pedretti and Madisen Beaty have all also been added to the cast.

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