In the last years of his life, the career of the late Burt Reynolds had taken some interesting turns as he moved away from leading man roles and played much more in the way of deeper character parts that allowed him to truly act rather than convey he was out there having a good ole’ time (which was the secret of the success of so many of his movies).
What probably would have been most interesting was seeing him team up with director Quentin Tarantino for next year’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Sadly, that won’t be happening, as Burt passed away at age 82 on Thursday, Sept. 6 and had been scheduled to shoot his sequences at the end of this month. Now comes word that he will be replaced by Bruce Dern, who had previously worked with Quentin on Django Unchainted and The Hateful Eight.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt as a TV actor well past his glory and his stunt double, respectively. Together they decide to make a name for themselves in 1969 LA right in the midst of the Helter Skelter murders. The idea was that Burt would play George Spahn, a rancher who allowed Charles Manson and his “family” to reside on his property. Bruce, of course, will be taking on that part.
At this point, it isn’t clear how much of the film will deal with Manson and the murder of Sharon Tate (played by Margot Robbie) and others at his followers’ hands. Back in April, the director released a statement offering up this inspiration for the project: “I’ve been working on this script for five years, as well as living in Los Angeles County most of my life, including in 1969, when I was seven years old. I’m very excited to tell this story of an LA and a Hollywood that don’t exist anymore. And I couldn’t be happier about the dynamic teaming of DiCaprio and Pitt.”
In a statement, Burt’s niece, Nancy Lee Hess, commented, “My uncle was looking forward to working with Quentin Tarantino and the amazing cast that was assembled.” For his part, Bruce made his big screen debut in 1960’s Wild River and most recently shot The Peanut Butter Falcon. In between he has been in 94 movies and made numerous television guest appearances.