The world has lost another Hollywood icon. Burt Reynolds, one of the most prominent leading men of the 70’s and 80’s, passed away of a heart attack early Thursday at the age of 82. The Internet is already awash with tributes and reflections on Reynolds’ career. Among them are “what could have been” references to roles Burt Reynolds famously turned down.
For Star Wars fans, it’s difficult to imagine any other actor portraying our favorite, swashbuckling scoundrel Han Solo, than Harrison Ford. That was one of the reasons Solo: A Star Wars Story didn’t resonate with fans; Alden Ehernreich was no Harrison Ford. Imagine if instead we were trying to compare Ehrenreich to Burt Reynolds.
Burt Reynolds Turned Down the Role of Han Solo
For as many roles as Burt Reynolds turned down, there seems to be equally as many actors that turned down the role of Han Solo. Reynolds, it seems, was among them. As Variety notes, Reynolds did, in fact, pass at the opportunity to play what would become one of the most iconic characters in film history.
“I just didn’t want to play that kind of role at the time,’ he told Business Insider in 2016 of the role that eventually went to Harrison Ford.
Now I regret it. I wish I would have done it.’”
The role Reynolds took instead? Bandit, as in Smokey and the Bandit.
That film was a pillar of 70’s cinema in its own right, spawning two sequels. Nevertheless, Smokey and the Bandit unfortunately came in second amongst films in 1977. Guess which film beat it out:
I suppose it’s a bit ironic now; Universal Pictures released the Smokey and the Bandit sequels in 1980 and 1983. Those just happen to be the same years 20th Century Fox released Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, respectively.
There was just something about Harrison Ford’s portrayal of Han Solo that worked, and it showed in the chemistry he had with Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill. Still… it would have been interesting to see what Burt Reynolds could have done with the role.
R.I.P., Mr. Reynolds.