James Marsden in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood has a huge cast. As the film entered production, we reached a point where daily casting news would add yet another name to an ever-growing list. One of those names was James Marsden – but Marsden didn’t make it into the final film. So who was Marsden going to play in Tarantino’s latest? Surprisingly, he was set to play Burt Reynolds – an actor who was also cast in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood but died before shooting his scenes.

Collider has the scoop on who James Marsden was cast to play in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: Burt Reynolds. There’s no info on what context we would’ve seen Marsden’s Reynolds appear in, but there are plenty of options. The film is set in Hollywood in 1969, and there are several scenes set on backlots or swinging Hollywood parties where actors roam wild. And of course, there are plenty of other celebrities of the era portrayed in the film: Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate, Mike Moh as Bruce Lee, Damian Lewis as Steve McQueen, and more. It would’ve been appropriate for Burt Reynolds to pop-up somewhere.

And then there’s the fact that Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, Rick Dalton, is famous for playing a TV cowboy in the 1950s – something Reynolds also did, on Gunsmoke. It makes sense that given their similar careers, Rick Dalton and Burt Reynolds would’ve crossed paths at some point. An interesting addendum to this info is the fact that the real Burt Reynolds almost appeared in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, too. Reynolds was originally cast as George Spahn, the owner of the Spahn Movie Ranch, where Charles Manson and his “family” lived for a period of time. However, Reynolds died before his filming began, and he was replaced by Bruce Dern.

It’s not clear if Marsden ever shot his scenes, or if Tarantino ended up cutting them completely before filming began. In any case, Marsden gets a “special thanks” mention in the credits. Marsden isn’t the only actor who didn’t make it into the theatrical cut: Tim Roth and Danny Strong were also both announced as part of the cast, but don’t appear in the final film.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood opens July 26, 2019.

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