If you thought the casting of Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Margot Robbie for Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was exciting, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Deadline reports that Tarantino is now filling out the ensemble for his next film, and none other than film legend Burt Reynolds is in talks to play George Spahn, while Tarantino regulars Kurt Russell, Tim Roth, and Michael Madsen are in early talks to play smaller roles in the film.
The original story takes place in the summer of 1969 in Los Angeles, set against the backdrop of the Charles Manson murders. Described as a tapestry of sorts in the vein of Pulp Fiction, DiCaprio leads the film as the former star of a Western TV series struggling to remain relevant, while Pitt plays his longtime stunt double. The Manson connection comes into play with DiCaprio’s character, who lives next door to Sharon Tate (with Robbie in talks to play that role).
Reynolds’ role of George Spahn is a real-life character. Spahn was a near-blind older man who rented out his ranch to be used as the location for shooting Westerns. Per reports, Manson convinced Spahn to allow him and his followers to live on the ranch for free, in exchange for “companionship” from the female followers and accessibility as the ranch owner’s seeing-eye guides.
Tarantino is going all-out with an A-list ensemble here, and the story sounds positively sprawling in comparison to the contained The Hateful Eight. No doubt interest will be piqued when and if Tarantino casts the role of Manson, which is presumably a smaller part. But it’s not like the filmmaker hasn’t flirted with controversy before, especially by retconning World War II in Inglourious Basterds.
The notoriously prickly Reynolds hasn’t had a high-profile role in some time, but he gained increased notoriety in Paul Thomas Anderson’s classic Boogie Nights in 1997. Tarantino has a sweet spot for iconic actors of the 70s and 80s, so this casting is no surprise, and it’ll be interesting to see what kind of performance Reynolds turns in here.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is slated to hit theaters on August 9, 2019. Production is set to begin this summer.