Oral History: Burt Reynolds and the Hollywood Class System

by Jack Tewksbury October 4, 2018
Acror Burt Reynolds, Golden Globe winner

hfpa archives

For over 40 years the HFPA has recorded famous and celebrated actors, actresses and filmmakers. The world's largest collection of its kind - over  10,000  items- is now in the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts &  Sciences Margaret Herrick Library.

In this excerpt from our archives, Golden Globe winner Burt Reynolds talks about privacy, perks, and Clint Eastwood.

 

“I've known Clint Eastwood for some years. First time I went to his house was for a Thanksgiving dinner. There was a young gentleman there about my age, and I asked him how long he'd known  Clint. "I've known Clint since kindergarten. How long have  you  known him?" I said, "15  years." He came back, "Boy,  nobody's ever  gotten to the house that quick!"

I don't know where Mr.  Eastwood lives now. I know he's got a house somewhere. But he sure has a sense of privacy that I envy.

Having power corrupts, yes. I remember when the studio gave me a  bodyguard and I said, "Who needs a bodyguard?" But they prevailed, and here was this guy constantly coming up to me, putting my jacket on me. I'd say, "Stop that!" because it was embarrassing. This went on for about six  months,  and then one day I caught myself  saying, "Where the hell's my  jacket?"  It just came out of my mouth.

As long as I can remember there have always been two things about this business - one that I love and one that I hate.  The thing I love is that if you're black or gay or yellow you can excel when you have what it takes. The thing I've always hated is the class system. Bit players don't go to lunch with extras.  Extras don't go to lunch with stars. It's something I never paid any attention to.  I sit with whomever I want to. I tried to break those rules, but they still  exist."