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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Scarlett O'Toole

Burt Reynolds admitted he was 'an idiot' for turning down legendary film roles

Burt Reynolds admitted he was "an idiot" for passing on some of the biggest film roles in cinema history, adding that he made a lot of mistakes in his career.

The actor rose to fame starring in TV shows such as Gunsmoke and became an icon of the 1970s after landing his breakthrough film role in Deliverance.

Despite his extraordinary success, Burt revealed there were times he made "bad career choices" but said they taught him how to be a better actor.

Early on in his career, the Hollywood star had a few "depressing years" after accepting a "stupid part" in TV western Riverboat.

He later went on to turn down a role in The Godfather and James Bond.

Burt Reynolds rose to fame in Gunsmoke (Getty Images)
He admitted to making mistakes in his career (Larry Marano/REX/Shutterstock)

Speaking to The Mirror just before his death in 2018, he said: "I don't think there's any actor who doesn’t think he's made bad career choices.

"I was recently with my friend Clint Eastwood, who's had one of the most successful careers of all.

"We were laughing about the mistakes we made and he talked about a couple of films he wished he hadn't made. I have a lot more than that! You learn from it though – you learn to be a better actor."

Burt made his first mistake early on his career when he was cast as Ben Frazer in Riverboat.

He was typecast as an action hero (Allstar Picture Library)

He ended up quitting after just 20 episodes, describing the role as a "stupid part".

It damaged his reputation and it took years until he landed another big role on TV.

Finally, he was offered a lead role in hit 70s film M*A*S*H, but he turned it down. The comedy went on to make $82million (£68million) at the box office, despite having a budget of just $3million (£2.5million).

A year after turning down M*A*S*H, Burt was cast in The Godfather but things weren't meant to be.

Marlon Brando had already been cast as Vito Corleone, with Burt securing the role of his son Michael.

Marlon Brando was cast as Vito Corleone (CBS via Getty Images)

However, the two stars had reportedly fallen out and Marlon threatened to quit if Burt stayed, so he backed out of the role.

Burt's movie mistakes didn't stop there.

He passed on the chance to play Randle McMurphy in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, with the role instead going to Jack Nicholson.

In 2018, Burt could only say: "I'm an idiot."

He was also lined up to play Rocky Balboa in 1976. Although the studio was keen, writer Sylvester Stallone was adamant he himself should play the title role.

In the mid 70s, Burt was also offered the role of Han Solo in the very first Star Wars movie.

Writer-director George Lucas had been very keen for him to take on the role, but Burt declined because he 'didn't like science fiction."

Speaking to Business Insider in 2016, he said: "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."

After Roger Moore announced he was leaving James Bond in the 80s, Burt was approached for the role but said he lacked the confidence.

"I think I was putting myself down in a way. Because I think I could have done it very well," he told the publication.

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