Burt Reynolds Reveals Biggest Career Regrets—And One Iconic Role He’s Glad He Passed On
Burt Reynolds is reflecting on his career, and regrets, he’s had a few. The 80-year-old film legend spoke to Business Insider about some of his biggest regrets from his long career. While Reynolds is known for making some of the greatest big screen blockbusters of the 1970s and ’80s, he may have jumped the gun on turning a few things down.
Burt told Business Insider that he was offered the part of Hans Solo in the first Star Wars movie before a then-unknown Harrison Ford took on the role, but he was focusing on more leading man types of roles.
“I just didn’t want to play that kind of role at the time. Now I regret it. I wish I would have done it.”
In addition, Reynolds said “no” to a Terms of Endearment character that James L. Brooks wrote specifically for him. Burt was Brooks’ muse for the role of womanizing astronaut Garrett Breedlove in the 1983 hit, but Reynolds passed on it. Jack Nicholson went on to win an Oscar for the role.
“I regret that one most of all because it was a real acting part. 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.”
In addition, Reynolds rejected an offer to play James Bond. In 1970, Burt was approached by Bond producer Albert R. Broccoli, but he didn’t think an American actor would be right for the role of Agent 007. Original Bond star Sean Connery reprised the iconic role instead.
“I think I was putting myself down in a way, because I think I could have done it very well. 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 humor.”
Burt Reynolds has also been vocal about his regrets on posing for a nude Cosmopolitan photo spread in 1972. While his bare skin on a bearskin rug had tongues wagging, Reynolds thinks the cheesy shot cost him an Oscar nod for his work in the movie Deliverance. In an interview with What to Watch, Reynolds said the nude centerfold was a huge mistake, and he revealed that he only did it after drinking a lot of alcohol.
“I wish I hadn’t done that. I really do. It was really stupid. I don’t know what I was thinking … The only rules I had was I wanted a lot drinks before because I was a little bit, well, I have to be truthful, I was totally zonkered when we did the picture. And that stupid smile [in the photo], that’s what it is.”
In the past, Reynolds has also expressed regret over losing the love of his life: Sally Field. In an interview last year with Entertainment Tonight, Reynolds said he still misses the actress, whom he first met on the set of Smokey and the Bandit in 1977 and dated for five years.
“I do miss her. I think she was one of the most underrated actresses, you know? She was the best actress I ever worked with.”
On the flip side, Burt had some regrets about marrying actress Loni Anderson. While he described Sally Field as “very, very special,” Burt told People that Loni cost him a fortune. He also once said his mother gave him a wedding day warning that he shouldn’t marry the blonde bombshell, shaking her head “no” right before Burt said “I do.”
“She liked to spend money. I really couldn’t afford her. I should have known that you don’t marry an actress.”
One thing Burt Reynolds doesn’t regret? Passing on the part of Edward Lewis in the 1990 movie Pretty Woman. Burt told Business Insider he just couldn’t imagine being in the role of the prostitute-paying businessman opposite Julia Roberts. Roberts was just 23-years-old at the time, while Reynolds was 54. The part went to a 40-year-old Richard Gere.
Burt Reynolds also reflects on some of his biggest career missteps in the new documentary The Bandit, which premiered recently at South by Southwest (SXSW) and will air on CMT later this year.
Take a look at the video to see Burt Reynolds talking about his love affair with Sally Field and his mother’s wedding day warning about Loni Anderson.
[Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for SXSW]