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Burt Reynolds: In His Own Words

Updated: Sep 20, 2022

Burt Reynolds
Bust of Burt Reynolds by Caroline P.M.

“There are no awards in Hollywood for being an idiot.” “All I get are scripts in the tradition of James Bond or about a good ol’ Southern boy. If I have to play one more redneck, I may commit harikari.” “I want to do something where I’m not driving a car or a truck, where it’s real. Something that people wouldn’t expect me to do. Probably a man in search of himself. But we’re always searching.” “The stupidest thing I ever did was turn down ‘Terms of Endearment” to do ‘Cannonball Run II.'’ Jim Brooks wrote the part of the astronaut for me. Taking that role would have been a way to get all the things I wanted.” “I was number one five years in a row at the box office. But what’s really stunning is that no one until me had ever gone from number one to number thirty-eight in one year.” “I’m pretty passionate about my work, even though I sometimes have this realization on the second day of shooting that I’m in a piece of shit. So I can do one of two things: I can just take the money, or I can try to be passionate. But the name of the boat is still the Titanic.” “I haven't been somebody who's been smart about his money. There are a couple of actors who are quite brilliant with the way they've handled their money. But they're not very good actors.” “There isn’t anything, no matter how good it is, or how good it tastes, or how much fun it is, where too much is good for you. It can destroy you. And you have to learn. It’s a hard lesson. But you have to learn to back off and do as good as you can in your chosen profession. And don’t screw it up. And the best way to screw it up is having too much of a good thing.”

“My son said, ‘If you go to an actor’s house, there’s a picture of the actor and other actors. If you go to a producer’s house, there are Picassos. I think I’ll be a producer.'” “Frankly, it’s embarrassing to have a house filled with giant portraits of yourself.” “When I had dreams, I dreamed about scoring touchdowns — or coaching. I never dreamed about Academy Awards or things like that. I still don’t think acting is nearly as important as the Super Bowl.”

“Marriage is about the most expensive way for the average man to get laundry done.” “I'm not sure if I can swagger anymore, but I can limp with the best of them.” “Most guys with toupees overcompensate. They want too much hair. They end up piling it high, looking like a weird flower.” “You can only hold your stomach in for so many years.” “I sometimes will be very shut off from everybody. I can be very pettish and sometimes not available when you need me. At those times, I'm very selfish and worrying about my own problems. I’m just being a prick. I don’t like that guy. I really hate that guy. And that’s me. But we all have the Devil in us.” “Sometimes I'm surprised people even know who I am.” “The audience will always forgive you for being wrong and exciting, but never for being right and dull.” “I’ve been very, very lucky through ups and downs. When you crash and burn, you have to pick yourself up and go on and hope to make up for it. Along the way, I’ve met some wonderful people.” “I always tried to leave a good impression wherever we shot, and I didn’t leave any buildings burning or anything. And I’ve had a good time through it all.” “There are three stages of an actor’s career. Young, old, and ‘You look good.'” “I feel like a man whose house was blown away in a hurricane. His possessions are gone, but he’s thankful to be alive.” “You get to a certain age, where you know you can’t go over the wall, but I’ll never get to the age where I can’t go through it.” “I'm going to retire hopefully like Cary Grant did. I'll be on stage telling a story, everyone's going to applaud and laugh, and then I'll drop like a rock.” “We’re only here for a little while, and you’ve got to have some fun, right? I don’t take myself seriously, and I think the ones that do, there’s some sickness with people like that.” “All you really have in the end are your stories.”


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