CANNES, France — “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood,” the Quentin Tarantino movie that had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on Tuesday, revolves around the August 1969 murder of the actress Sharon Tate, played by Margot Robbie.
Glamorously coiffed and outfitted throughout the film, the Australia-born actress does get screen time. She goes into a movie theater by herself one day to watch one of her own films, putting up her bare feet as she takes in the scenes. She spends time in Hollywood with her husband, the director Roman Polanski, and dances riotously at an outdoor party, as male guests eye her with desire. Yet she doesn’t have many lines in the movie, which runs 2 hours and 40 minutes.
At a news conference for the film on Wednesday, I asked Tarantino why Robbie, an Oscar-nominated actress who starred in “I, Tonya,” didn’t get more dialogue. It must have been a deliberate choice on his part, I added.
“Well, I just reject your hypotheses,” Tarantino replied, and said no more.
Robbie, who was seated beside him and was also asked to comment, smiled at the director’s response, and said: “I think the moments that I got onscreen gave an opportunity to honor Sharon and the lightness.”
“The tragedy, ultimately, was the loss of innocence, and to really show those wonderful sides of her, I think, could be adequately done without speaking,” she noted. “I did feel like I got a lot of time to explore the character, even without dialogue specifically, which is an interesting thing.”
“Rarely do I get an opportunity to spend so much time on my own as a character, going through a day-to-day existence,” she said. The actress added that she “actually really appreciated the exercise and felt that I could deliver what I wanted to onscreen.”
The movie, which was well received by critics in Cannes, opens July 26 in the United States.