In just a couple of weeks, Burt Reynolds was slated to go in front of the camera of Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time In Hollywood. Reynolds, who died suddenly today of a suspected heart attack, was to play rancher George Spahn in the movie, set in Los Angeles in the summer of 1969 before the Manson Family murders were committed.
Reynolds, who was cast back in May and attended the Leonardo DiCaprio- and Brad Pitt-starring film’s table read in June, had received a straight offer from Tarantino, who had seen Reynolds in the 2018 release The Last Movie Star.
That feature, in which Reynolds played an aging movie star, created a host of new opportunities for the 1970s movie icon. (You can read The Last Movie Star writer-director Adam Rifkin’s remembrance of his friend and childhood hero Reynolds here.)
“I don’t know how long I’m going to be around, but I want to be proud of what’ve done as I walk into the sunset,” Reynolds’ longtime manager Erik Kritzer remembers the star telling him about eight years ago.
Following The Last Movie Star, which was released in April by A24, “he was completely fulfilled,” Kritzer said.
At the same time, Reynolds was looking forward to working with Tarantino and was intrigued about new opportunities. Reynolds had received several offers, and Kritzer was negotiating for the Deliverance star to do multiple movies at the time of his death.
Additionally, last year Reynolds did a six-day AFTRA shoot in Canada on a modestly budgeted movie, Defining Moments, which has not been released.
“I know he passed away happy with how his career ended, but he also was excited to go work with Quentin and about what else lied ahead,” Kritzer said.