Dern will play George Spahn, the real-life rancher who owned the ranch where Charles Manson and his followers lived in the late 1960s, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.
Quentin Tarantino wrote and is directing the film, which takes place in 1969 and centers on a former TV star named Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) as they navigate an industry they barely recognize.
Reynolds was plotting a third comeback with a role in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and attended a table read in June with stars Pitt, DiCaprio, Margot Robbie and Kurt Russell. He died Sept. 6, before he began filming on the project.
Dern and Reynolds were longtime friends and worked together multiple times, including in the 2003 TV film Hard Ground and on an episode of the 1960s TV series 12 O’Clock High. Dern, a two-time Oscar nominee, is currently filming the feature Remember Me in Spain and will be allowed to leave early to shoot Once Upon a Time.
David Heyman, Tarantino and Shannon McIntosh are producing the film, for which Sony has set a July 26, 2019, release date.