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The Australian actor Damon Herriman will play Charles Manson in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming crime drama exploring the Manson Family murders.

Entertainment outlets broke the news that the Adelaide-born Herriman, 48, has been cast as the reviled cult leader in the auteur’s ninth feature film, which will be set in Los Angeles in 1969.

In his first major US movie role, Herriman joins an ensemble cast that includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Burt Reynolds, Al Pacino, Lena Dunham, Dakota Fanning and his fellow Australian Margot Robbie as the actor Sharon Tate, who was one of the victims of the Manson Family murders.

Herriman, who won an Aacta award in 2016 for his performance in Foxtel’s Canberra-set cloak-and-dagger drama Secret City, is best-known to US audiences for his role in the neo-western crime drama Justified, broadcast on the cable channel FX.

Herriman has also appeared in the US television programmes Quarry and Battle Creek, which was co-created by the Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan.

In Australian film and television he is known for playing an eclectic range of characters, often in supporting roles but with occasional gigs as leading man.

He co-starred in Stan’s No Activity and ABC TV’s Squinters. He played a priest in Russell Crowe’s 2014 directorial debut The Water Diviner, a racist thug in the Cronulla riots-inspired 2016 black comedy Down Under and a nefarious fertiliser manufacturer in the 2012 horror film 100 Bloody Acres.

Herriman has previously played influential and famous people of the 20th century. The actor was cast as the band manager Chris Murphy in the 2014 miniseries Never Tear Us Apart: The Untold Story of INXS and received rave reviews for his performance as Lance Gowland in the ABC TV telemovie Riot. Gowland was the key organiser of the first Sydney Mardi Gras.

Tarantino has long expressed interest in the Australian film industry. The writer/director, along with the documentarian Mark Hartley, coined the term “Ozploitation” to describe Australian exploitative genre films.

The auteur owns several 35mm and 16mm prints of Australian films, including BMX Bandits, Roadgames, Dark Age, Frog Dreaming, High Rolling in a Hot Corvette, The Picture Show Man and an episode of the 60s/70s adventure TV show Riptide.

In 2012’s Django Unchained, Tarantino appeared in a bizarre cameo as an Australian miner, alongside the veteran Australian actor John Jarratt.

In 2016 the director told Guardian Australia he watched contemporary Australian horror movies “to keep me up to date with the young Australian actors out there”.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is scheduled for release in mid 2019.