Following news of the actor’s death on Thursday, Reynolds’ niece Nancy Lee Hess revealed that he had not yet started filming on the anticipated production.
“My uncle was looking forward to working with Quentin Tarantino, and the amazing cast that was assembled,” Lee Hess said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.
A source confirms to PEOPLE that Reynolds had not yet begun filming his role.
The actor was slated to begin shooting within weeks, a source told The Hollywood Reporter.
Reynolds died at Jupiter Medical in Florida, according to manager Erik Kritzer. The mustachioed megastar was 82.
“Very lucky to have met the man, the myth, the legend, Burt Reynolds. RIP,” costar Dakota Fanning, who plays Lynette Alice “Squeaky” Fromme in the film, shared on her Instagram Story Thursday.
Nearly four months before his death, Reynolds was cast as George Spahn, the blind rancher who owned the property that Charles Manson and his followers were living on when they hatched their most infamous murders, including the Aug. 9, 1969, killing of actress Sharon Tate, who was more than eight months pregnant with her child with director Roman Polanski.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is opening summer 2019.