Before they became the movie stars they ended up becoming, Universal Studios fired both Burt Reynolds and Clint Eastwood in the same year. The studio obviously didn’t know talent. But it made for a hilarious story, Reynolds loved retelling throughout his career.
Both Eastwood and Reynolds were under contract for Universal Studios in 1958. But a year later, the two actors and friends saw their fortunes reversed. The studio let both of them go the same year for differing reasons. For Eastwood, Universal didn’t like how the actor looked. Most notably, they didn’t like Eastwood’s prominent Adam’s apple.
But in Reynolds’ case, the studio thought the actor couldn’t act. And therefore let him go. In his retelling, Reynolds admitted to spicing up the story by telling media outlets they had been fired on the same day.
“Well, Eastwood was — I always tell the story that we were fired the same day, but we weren’t,” Reynolds told CNN’s Larry King. “We were fired the same year. And he was fired because his Adam’s apple stuck out too far. He talked too slow. He had a chipped tooth and he wouldn’t get it fixed. And I said, “Why are you firing me?” And they said, ‘You can’t act.’”
Their firing led to a humorous exchange between Reynolds and Eastwood. Reynolds confessed to Eastwood that the “Fistful of Dollars” actor’s prospects were worse than his.
“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,” Reynolds said with a laugh.
Burt Reynolds and Clint Eastwood Become Stars
Eventually, everything worked out for both Reynolds and Eastwood. They ended up making Universal regret firing them. Reynolds appeared in numerous westerns during his early career, turning a memorable role on the series “Gunsmoke” for instance. His film career blew up when he appeared in “Deliverance” and then later “Smokey and the Bandit.”
Meanwhile, Eastwood got his start on the small screen as well, starring in “Rawhide.” He later appeared in the “Dollars” trilogy, which helped catapult him to fame. Eastwood’s success grew with a string of westerns and later detective films. He later even appeared in a Universal production.
“You know, the next time that either one of us — him much earlier than me — worked at Universal, he got a million dollars,” Reynolds said. Ultimately, the two actors got the last laugh.