Quentin Tarantino Tapped James Marsden to Play Burt Reynolds in Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood
Quentin Tarantino packs a million stars into Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, his meticulous ode to a bygone era. Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, and Margot Robbie lead the film, which is rounded out by dozens of other famous faces, including Al Pacino, Kurt Russell, Dakota Fanning, Lena Dunham, and Luke Perry, among others. One more star could have been added to the mix: James Marsden, who was announced as part of the film’s cast last June. However, his role was ultimately cut. According to Collider, though, it’s come to light that the Westworld actor was supposed to play a young Burt Reynolds.
Reynolds, who died in 2018, got his start in Hollywood in a number of Westerns, like the series Gunsmoke and the film 100 Rifles. So it makes perfect sense that he would have popped up in Once Upon a Time, a film set during 1969. Tarantino is an avowed Western fan; in the film, DiCaprio plays a fictional actor named Rick Dalton, who makes a name for himself by starring in several Westerns. It’s unclear what happened with Marsden’s role. Reps for the actor have not yet responded to Vanity Fair’s request for comment.
In a recent interview with Deadline, Tarantino said that he initially gave Reynolds the Once Upon a Time script, so the actor could vet the accuracy of the story and the Western references. As a result, the pair struck up a friendship.
“I grew up watching Burt all the time, both at the movies and on talk shows,” Tarantino said. “To get to know him at the end of his life, for just a brief amount of time, and spend significant time with him nevertheless both in person and then on wonderful phone conversations that went on for a long, long time, was incredibly gratifying.”
Reynolds was, at one point, supposed to appear in the movie himself as well; he came to a rehearsal and script reading with Pitt and Fanning, playing the role of George Spahn, the owner of Spahn Ranch—where Charles Manson and his followers lived. Unfortunately, as Tarantino pointed out, “it was the last role he ever played”; Reynolds died before the film went into production, and the role of Spahn ended up going to Bruce Dern instead.
Source: Vanity Fair