Burt Reynolds Reflects on the Roles He's Turned Down

Burt Reynolds addressed some of the famous roles he has passed on while visiting Watch What Happens Live on Thursday.

Host Andy Cohen opened the segment by explaining that he would list some roles the actor is rumored to have turned down. Reynolds was then asked to explain his thought process for passing on the roles.

The first role in question was of Michael Corleone in the 1972 film The Godfather. The part ultimately went to Al Pacino. Cohen noted that Reynolds explained in his memoir that Marlon Brando threatened to quit the iconic film if he was involved. “I was flattered he was upset,” said Reynolds.

The actor also turned down the opportunity to play the original James Bond because he believed that an American should not have taken on the role. When asked if he regrets turning down the role, Reynolds responded, “Yes, I do.”

Reynolds also turned down the opportunity to play Richard Gere’s character Edward Lewis in the 1990 film Pretty Woman. When Cohen asked why he passed on the role, Reynolds answered, “Because I’m an idiot.”

The actor also addressed his desire to star in the 1975 film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. “I didn’t pass on that. I wanted it desperately,” he said of the role of Randle McMurphy, which Jack Nicholson won an Oscar for. “In fact, I tried to kill Jack, but it didn’t work,” he joked. When asked why he chose to pass on the part, he concluded, “’Cause I’m stupid.”

Reynolds was also up for Nicholson’s role in 1983’s Terms of Endearment, for which the actor won another Oscar. After pretending to choke himself with his scarf, Reynolds said of that part, “I don’t remember turning it down.”

Cohen then asked if it’s true that he turned down the role of Han Solo in the Star Wars franchise.  “That I did,” he admitted. “Because I thought that… I don’t like science fiction pictures.”

The final role Cohen asked about was of John McClane in 1988’s Die Hard, who was ultimately portrayed by Bruce Willis. “I don’t remember passing on that,” he said. “I think they thought I did. Sometimes people can’t understand me ‘cause I’ve been hit so many times.”