James Marsden’s Cut Role in ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ Revealed as Meta Surprise

Marsden is one of several actors who got cut from the "Hollywood" theatrical release.
James Marsden attend the 2019 MOCA benefit at the Geffen Contemporary on in Los Angeles2019 MOCA Benefit, Los Angeles, USA - 18 May 2019
James Marsden
Mark Von Holden/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

James Marsden was announced as a cast member in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” back in June 2018, but he’s nowhere to be found in the theatrical cut opening July 26 from Sony Pictures. Marsden is one of several actors who filmed scenes for “Hollywood” that got cut in the editing room; others include Tim Roth and Danny Strong. Collider has revealed that Marsden’s role in the movie was that of Hollywood icon Burt Reynolds. There are several scenes in the film where actors pop up as Hollywood legends, be it Mike Moh as Bruce Lee or Damian Lewis as Steve McQueen.

The casting of Marsden as Reynolds would’ve been an extremely meta one for “Hollywood” considering Reynolds himself was originally cast by Tarantino. Reynolds joined the project in the role of George Spahn, the ranch owner who rented out his property to Charles Manson and his followers. Reynolds passed away before filming his scenes for the movie and was replaced by Tarantino’s “Hateful Eight” star Bruce Dern. It’s unclear whether or not Reynolds’ death prompted Tarantino to remove Marsden’s role from the movie.

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” stars Leonardo Dicaprio as Rick Dalton, a famous television star from the 1950s whose career is waning in 1969. As Rick struggles to be taken seriously as an actor, he’s supported by his longtime friend and stuntman Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). Margot Robbie stars as Sharon Tate, the model and actress who was murdered by the Manson family. Tate and her husband, Roman Polanski, live next door to Rick.

“Hollywood” was set to be one of two major releases for Marsden, both of which have been now been taken off his calendar. The actor is the lead in Paramount’s “Sonic the Hedgehog,” which was originally set for release in November but got pushed back to February 2020 so that the animation used for the title character could be overhauled after fan backlash. Marsden had a lead role opposite Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini in Netflix’s comedy series “Dead to Me,” which has been renewed for a second season.

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” opens in theaters nationwide July 26 from Sony.

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