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Movie fans all over the world were sad when Burt Reynolds died just short of one year ago. However, while fans would always have Reynolds' body of work to go back to, there was one project they would never see. Reynolds' had signed on to play a part in Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood, but unfortunately wasn't able to film his scenes before his death. However, it turns out that the bandit still had something of an impact on the production, as he contributed one of the movie's great jokes.
In a recent interview with Sight and Sound Magazine (via Uproxx), director Quentin Tarantino reveals that the line delivered by Mike Moh (playing Bruce Lee) when he refers to Brad Pitt's character being "kinda pretty for a stunt guy" came from Reynolds himself after the actor had read the script for the movie. It also turns out that Brad Pitt may not have been a big fan of the line. According to Tarantino...
I did not come up with that. Burt Reynolds read the script, and he knows a lot of stunt guys. And Burt said, ‘So Brad Pitt is playing the stunt guy?’ And I said, ‘Yeah.’ And Burt says, ‘You gotta have somebody say, ‘You’re kinda pretty for a stunt guy.’ And the thing is, Brad doesn’t like making his looks a thing in a movie, but he couldn’t say no to that, because it was Burt Reynolds’ line! And watching Brad grin and bear it is really great. Because he doesn’t really dig it. But the fact that But Reynolds came up with it- he can’t say shit!
Brad Pitt is generally agreed to be one of the better looking human beings walking the planet. It seems the stereotype for stuntmen is that they're...well...not. It's maybe not that surprising. A good looking stunt guy probably has a much easier time becoming an actor.
But the line is more than a little perfect. It irks Brad Pitt himself, since Quentin Tarantino says he doesn't like attention being drawn to his looks, but that just makes the line work, because it's also supposed to irk Cliff Booth, the character Pitt plays. One can imagine that, Booth, like Pitt, has heard similar things before, and is sort of tired of it, so the fact that it leads to a fight makes some sense.
Originally, Burt Reynolds had joined the cast to play George Spahn, the owner of the ranch where Charles Manson and his followers lived, but, since Reynolds died, Bruce Dern joined the cast in Reynolds' place. It's nice to know that Reynolds still played a part, however, small, in bringing one last movie to the screen.
Once Upon a Time...In Hollywood is a love letter to movie making and the Hollywood that never was. While Burt Reynolds wasn't quite the movie star he would become in 1969, the year the new movie takes place, he still played his part in making movie history.