Burt Reynolds’ passing left a hole in many lives, and a huge one in the cast of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Unfortunately, the 82-year-old Reynolds died on September 6, before shooting started, leaving director Quentin Tarantino with a huge decision: who should replace Reynolds in the role?
Deadline reports that actor Bruce Dern has been tapped to take over the role that Reynolds was so thrilled to play. Dern, who is also 82, had an electrifying turn as a very angry Confederate general in another Tarantino film, The Hateful Eight. He will join an all-star cast of A-listers including Leonardo DiCaprio, Al Pacino, Brad Pitt, Kurt Russell, Dakota Fanning, Margot Robbie, and more.
The film features a series of vignettes that all take place in the summer of 1969 in Los Angeles, the summer that Charles Manson and his cult followers violently murdered Sharon Tate and others at a party turned tragedy.
Dern, who has twice been nominated for an Oscar, is currently on location in Spain filming Remember Me, but the producer and director of that film rearranged the production schedule so Dern could leave in time to shoot Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. He’ll be playing Spahn, an 80-year-old blind man who owned a ranch he rented out for Western films. Manson, however, convinced Spahn to let him and his followers stay on the ranch for six months as they planned the murders.
Manson apparently instructed some of the young women in his cult to have sex with Spahn and act as seeing-eye guides for him as well. He’s apparently responsible for Squeaky Fromme’s nickname as well, because she would squeak whenever Spahn touched her.
Reynolds had finally landed the prestige part he’d wanted for years, but unfortunately won’t get to play it. Dern and Reynolds were friendly and worked together on more than one occasion, dating all the way back to 1965 when both appeared on an episode of 12 O’Clock High, a show about soldiers during World War II.
Dern is currently appearing in White Boy Rick, and he has appeared in other Tarantino films, such as Django Unchained.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is set to open in summer, 2019, and no one was looking forward to it more than Reynolds, People reported.
“My uncle was looking forward to working with Quentin Tarantino, and the amazing cast that was assembled,” the actor’s niece said in a statement.