Burt Reynolds explains why he and Clint Eastwood were fired by Universal Studios

Two Hollywood legends were sacked by the same company!

CBS Television Distribution

It's nearly impossible to picture Hollywood without Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds. They both had tremendous filmographies filled with legendary highs and unfortunate lows. But, more than anything, Reynolds and Eastwood were the embodiment of New Hollywood cool, defining stoic machismo for decades to come. 

But, there was a time before both actors were known commodities, when they were just two run-of-the-mill hired hands, struggling to make ends meet in an increasingly ruthless business.

While they would see their stars rise in the 1960s and '70s, Reynolds and Eastwood were still working to break into the biz in the previous decade. Like many young actors, they found themselves under contract with a major film studio. In their case, it was Universal Studios who signed on to nurture and incubate Reynolds and Eastwood early in their career. It was there, while under contract, that the two met for the first time, becoming fast friends. 

In a 2000 interview with Larry King, Burt Reynolds spoke about why their days at Universal Studios were shortlived. 

"I always tell the story that we were fired the same day, but we weren't. We were fired the same year," he explained.

With no shortage of talent at their disposal, a giant studio like Universal didn't need much reason for talent turnover. The company had a roster of unknowns to choose from for supporting roles and could pick any explanation to let someone go.

"[Clint Eastwood] was fired because his Adam's apple stuck out too far. He talked too slow. And he had a chipped tooth and he wouldn't get it fixed," said Reynolds.

While these reasons may have hurt Eastwood's feelings, most of these aesthetic preferences were outside of his control. He couldn't change his Adam's apple even if he wanted to. However, Universal Studios' reason for firing Reynolds was a little more personal.

"And I said, 'Why are you firing me?' The people at the studio replied, 'You can't act.' I said to Clint, 'You know, you are really screwed because I can learn how to act. You can't get rid of that Adam's apple. And it's held him back. It's held him back," the actor joked.

Obviously, both Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds would go on to see career heights outside of the restrictive studio system to which they originally belonged.

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8 Comments

Mark 16 days ago
And years later, Clint would be a fixture at Universal, making quite a few successful movies for the studio.
GOOSEYGOOSE9 1 month ago
Burt reynolds was fired for throwing the assistant director in the water then on riverboat series the assistant director was mad at him for bothering spencer tracy in inherit the wind. Burt reynolds went on to Dan august tv series then movies as well as growing the moustache
LoveMETV22 GOOSEYGOOSE9 19 days ago
Whats up with your Burt Reynolds comments? ARE YOU OBSESSED WITH HIM? Also him growing a mustache? Your comments are disturbing.
McGillahooala 2 months ago
Two great actors in a sea of weirdos. Not surprising that they made it despite the incompetent folks at Universal.
Runeshaper 2 months ago
Wow! That's pretty rough on both counts.
Bapa1 2 months ago
.........and yet they retained The Creature From The Black Lagoon.
Irish 2 months ago
Well....I would take Clint over Burt anyday! I had a huge fan crush on Clint Eastwood that lasted for years. Do I have to explain myself? 😘❤️😂
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