Fans were saddened to learn yesterday that Burt Reynolds had passed away after a heart attack. He worked right up until he died with plans to appear in Quentin Tarantino's new film, but that will never happen. Reynolds was slated to appear as one member of a star-studded ensemble cast in the director's upcoming movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, however, Reynolds wasn't scheduled to begin filming for a few weeks, which means he won't be part of the new movie.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood tells the story of multiple characters living in and around Los Angeles in 1969. The film will focus on characters played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt as a former western TV star and his stunt double, trying to make it in a Hollywood that is changing around them. The story will also deal with some of the real-life events surrounding the Manson Family and the murder of Sharon Tate. Burt Reynolds was set to appear in the film as George Spahn, the owner of the ranch where the Manson Family was residing, but The Hollywood Reporter confirms the scenes had not yet been filmed.
While the part probably wasn't a large one, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood will now need to move quickly to recast it in order to prevent any significant delays to the schedule. The film is set for release in less than a year, so time is of the essence. Hopefully, Quentin Tarantino will be able to find another actor of equal history and stature to replace Reynolds.
Still, it's more than a little sad that we won't get to see Burt Reynolds in this one final role. It would have been great to see him appear alongside so many other great stars in a strong supporting performance. A movie that pays tribute to a bygone era of Hollywood would have been the perfect place for a star like Burt Reynolds to have a farewell performance. He himself started his career making TV westerns in the 1960s, just as Leonardo DiCaprio's character in the movie, before his performance on the big screen in Deliverance in 1972, just a couple years after where this film is set, made him a movie star. The symmetry of the thing is perfect, making the fact that we won't see it that much more disappointing.
Luckily, we do still have all of Burt Reynolds previous performances to make us happy, so throw on Smokey and the Bandit, Cannonball Run, or his Oscar-nominated performance in Boogie Nights, and enjoy the career of Burt Reynolds. Then, next year, we can remember Reynolds and the role that could have been when Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is released July 26, 2019.