Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood is Quentin Tarantino’s new film capturing the milieu and vibe of 1969 Hollywood. The Manson Family plays a large role in the movie, and, yes, an actor playing Charles Manson does briefly appear in the movie. (Be forewarned that there are plot spoilers in this article, although we won’t give away the ending, which has a big twist.)
The Manson appearance is very brief, though; if you aren’t looking closely, it’s possible to miss it.
First, the set up: Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt play a somewhat washed-up TV and spaghetti western star and his stunt double and sidekick. They’re remnants of Hollywood’s Golden Age. They just happen to be living next door to actress Sharon Tate and her husband, Roman Polanski, the French-Polish director who, at that time, had just filmed Rosemary’s Baby. History knows, of course, that Tate and her friends (Wojciech Frykowski, Abigail Folger, Jay Sebring, and Steven Parent) were murdered by Manson Family followers Susan Atkins, Tex Watson, and Patricia Krenwinkel, with Linda Kasabian as a lookout. In real life, as in the movie, Manson wasn’t present at the murder scene. In the movie, he’s also not seen at the Spahn Movie Ranch when Brad Pitt’s character shows up there with a teenage Manson Family member. We won’t spoil the movie’s ending, as noted. Nor will we give away what happens at the Spahn Movie Ranch, but suffice it to say that it’s a scene full of addled and brainwashed Flower Children of Charles Manson.
However, the actor playing Charles Manson does make an appearance in one scene earlier in the film.
Here’s what you need to know:
The Movie Contains a Scene Showing Charles Manson Coming Up to the Tate/Polanski House
In the movie, there is one scene where Charles Manson, played by actor Damon Herriman, comes up to the Sharon Tate/Roman Polanski house looking for the man who previously lived there (producer Terry Melcher). He talks to Tate and hairdresser Jay Sebring, learns Melcher is not there, and walks away with the occupants unaware of the dangerous nature of the encounter. He sent a group of killers back there later, of course, in real life. The real Manson was 83-years-old when he died in prison in 2017.
The infamous home was located at 10050 Cielio Drive.
According to Vox, Tate and Polanski were renting a home that had once belonged to Melcher, “a record producer whom Manson partly blamed for his failure to make it as a recording artist.” Melcher was also the only son of the actress Doris Day; Melcher died in 2004 at the age of 62, after losing a long battle with melanoma. You can read more about his life here.
Herriman is an Australian actor. He’s played Dewey Crowe in the FX show Justified. According to Oprah Mag, he’s acted alongside DiCaprio before playing the kidnapper of the Lindbergh baby in J. Edgar. He’s also acted in Wilfred, CSI, The Loop, and Cold Case.
Herriman has played Charles Manson before in the show Mindhunter.