On Thursday, the entertainment world mourned the death of a true legend of the screen: Burt Reynolds, who died at age 82.
With a career that spans close to 60 years that included everything from memorable television shows to some of the highest-grossing movies of the ’70s and ’80s, the actor has too many classics to name.
In fact, the list of roles Reynolds turned down is even legendary.
In an interview in 2016, he went through a few of them with Business Insider:
Before Harrison Ford, Reynolds was offered the role of Han Solo.
Prior to George Lucas going with the virtual unknown Harrison Ford to play the space scoundrel Solo in the first “Star Wars,” Reynolds was offered the part.
Reynolds was a hot name around the studios at the time Lucas was casting, having been a few years removed from his acclaimed performance in “Deliverance” and building his heartthrob status in the movie “The Longest Yard.”
But at the time, Reynolds wasn’t interested in the character.
“I just didn’t want to play that kind of role at the time,” he told BI. “Now I regret it. I wish I would have done it.”
He could have been the first American James Bond.
Following the forgettable tenure of George Lazenby as James Bond in 1969’s “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” Bond producer Albert R. Broccoli went to Reynolds to be the next 007. But Reynolds felt an American couldn’t pull off the role. He feels differently now.
“I think I was putting myself down in a way, because I think I could have done it very well,” Reynolds said. “Though once you do something like that and it’s successful you’re bound to play that part for a long time. I think I would have liked it. I like that kind of tongue-in-cheek humour.”
Broccoli instead was able to get the first Bond, Sean Connery, to reprise the role, paying him a then-record $US1.25 million salary.
The role Reynolds most regrets not accepting.
James L. Brooks specifically wrote the role of womanizing retired astronaut Garrett Breedlove in 1983’s “Terms of Endearment” for Reynolds, but the actor turned him down. (Legend has it he chose the NASCAR comedy “Stroker Ace” instead.)
Brooks went with Jack Nicholson, who took home a best supporting actor Oscar for the role. (Reynolds has never won an Oscar.)
“I regret that one most of all because it was a real acting part,” Reynolds said. “I wish I would have done it, and thinking back now, it was really a stupid decision, but I made a lot of stupid decisions in that period. It must have been my stupid period.”
But there’s one role he has zero regrets about not taking …
Before Richard Gere, Reynolds was offered the part of businessman Edward Lewis, who falls in love Julia Roberts’ prostitute-with-a-heart-of-gold character in “Pretty Woman.”
We admitted to Reynolds that it would have been a weird choice to see him in this role opposite Roberts.
“I agree,” he replied.
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