Oscar nominee Bruce Dern will reportedly replace the late Burt Reynolds in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Before his death at 82-years-old from heart failure, Reynolds had been set to play Manson Family acquaintance George Spahn in Tarantino’s upcoming 1969-set film. The actor passed away before he was able to do any work on the film.
In addition to George Spahn, Tarantino’s film will also include real-life characters from Manson family victim Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) to film legend Steve McQueen (Damian Lewis) and the infamous Manson himself (Damon Herriman). The narrative however mostly revolves around a pair of fictional creations: fading former TV star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and stunt man Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). Plot details are being kept under wraps, but Tarantino says the movie will have a Pulp Fiction vibe, which suggests it will weave together multiple narratives.
After the death of Burt Reynolds, the star-studded cast of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood lost one of its brightest. But the movie must press on and now Tarantino has reportedly cast Reynolds’ replacement with an actor who stands as a formidable presence in his own right. As reported by Deadline, Bruce Dern joins the cast of Tarantino’s epic in the role of George Spahn, the rancher who let the Manson family live on his land (and infamously hung Squeaky Fromme with the nickname “Squeaky”).
Dern of course has worked for Tarantino before, portraying General Sandy Smithers in The Hateful Eight and Old Man Carrucan in Django Unchained. Like Reynolds, Dern got his start on episodic television (the two actually appeared together in an episode of the show 12 O'Clock High) before rising to prominence in movies in the 1970s. After memorable roles in The King of Marvin Gardens, The Great Gatsby and Silent Running, Dern earned his first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Hal Ashby’s Coming Home. He received his first ever Best Actor Oscar nomination for his role in Alexander Payne’s Nebraska.
Dern may not have risen to become as big a star as Reynolds, but his acting resume is as formidable as anyone’s and his addition to the Once Upon a Time cast is certainly a welcome one. Tarantino’s movie has been underway for some weeks now and along the way a few photos and reports have trickled out, but nothing that gives away the movie’s plot. Unlike The Hateful Eight, whose script leaked well ahead of the film’s release, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood will seemingly make it to theaters with all its secrets intact. Most Tarantino projects generate tremendous intrigue, but this latest one may be creating the most buzz of all, thanks in large part to the cast Tarantino has assembled (as well as the controversial subject matter).
- Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (2019) release date: Jul 26, 2019