What Burt Reynolds Really Thought of “Smokey and the Bandit”

Smokey and the Bandit is a 1977 action-comedy film starring Burt Reynolds and Sally Field. The story follows Bo “The Bandit” Darville and his sidekick, Cledus “The Snowman” Snow, who are hired to illegally transport beer across state lines, all while being pursued by Sheriff Buford T. Justice. It was the directorial debut of stuntman Hal Needham, who was having difficulty getting studios to take his project seriously. He approached his friend Burt Reynolds about starring in the film, hoping to attract the attention of major studios. Although Reynolds told Needham the script was the worst he had ever read and although Reynolds’ friends begged him not to do it, he agreed to make the movie anyway. When Universal Studios found out that Reynolds had signed on to play the lead role, they bankrolled the movie for $3.3 million. In its first month, the movie made a whopping $11.9 million. It eventually grossed $300 million worldwide, with Burt Reynolds walking away with a cool $1 million ($5 million today) for his part.