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James Marsden’s reported role as Burt Reynolds in Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood got cut

Photo: Art Zelin (Getty Images), Rachel Luna (WireImage)

Quentin Tarantino’s new love letter to Tinseltown, Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood, features many depictions of real-life movie stars like Sharon Tate, Bruce Lee, and Steve McQueen. One famous face apparently didn’t make it to the final cut, however, and Collider today reports on what that depiction would have entailed: James Marsden as Burt Reynolds.

Reynolds himself was going to appear in the film as Manson Family ranch owner George Spahn, but died before filming. He was replaced by Bruce Dern. Marsden was announced as a member of the original cast in 2018, but did not make it into the 161-minute film. Collider writer Jeff Sneider wonders whether Marsden’s performance would have involved seeing “Burt on the backlot during the Lancer scenes featuring Timothy Olyphant and Luke Perry,” as the actor was prominent in Westerns at that time. He points out that it’s also unclear “whether Reynolds’ death prompted Tarantino to cut Marsden’s cameo, or whether it simply did not fit organically into the film. He ultimately received a Special Thanks in the end credits.” Sneider states that Sony did not respond to a request for comment.

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As with the other casting decisions in Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood, Westworld vet Marsden seems like an inspired choice to play Reynolds circa 1969, when the star was appearing in films like 100 Rifles and Sam Whiskey. Something to think about if someone is jonesing to launch a reboot of Smokey And The Bandit.

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Gwen Ihnat

Gwen Ihnat is the Editorial Coordinator for The A.V. Club.