Burt Reynolds is a true Hollywood legend and Smokey and the Bandit is one of his most iconic films. The 1977 action comedy featured Reynolds as Bo “Bandit” Darville fleeing from Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason) and attempting to smuggle Coors beer to Atlanta.
Smokey and the Bandit was a critical and commercial success that spurred two sequels. It also had a cultural impact that’s still seen to this day. However, an old recording of the late Reynolds revealed one scary incident that happened on set. If it had gone another way, Smokey and the Bandit would have a very different legacy.
‘Smokey and the Bandit’ was a surprise success
Rookie director Hal Needham conceptualized Smokey and the Bandit as a B movie with a $1 million budget. Even he was surprised that it would up becoming the second highest-grossing movie in 1977, IMDb reported, second only to Star Wars.
And Reynolds said he truly enjoyed the project, too. “The film I had the most fun on was Smokey and the Bandit,” the actor said during a 2015 interview at the Macon Film Festival, CW Atlanta reported. “And I still have one of the Trans Am’s from the film.”
Reynolds recalled 1 scary incident from ‘Smokey and the Bandit’
The movie was undoubtedly a comedy with tons of hilarious moments. But one scene during filming caused multiple onlookers to literally faint with fear.
It all happened when Reynolds was filming alongside Sally Field’s stunt double, who was driving the car at the time.
“She was the sweetheart of one of the stunt guys,” the actor said during an interview with Power Nation. “She was very capable. You could throw her off a building, do a fight, and stuff with her and she was very handy. But handling a car, that’s a whole other thing.”
The stunt double was supposed to jump a wall with the car, go around the game, and then jump another wall. But that’s not what happened. “
She’s driving and she just panicked,” Reynolds recalled. “I’ve never seen this happen before with stunt people.”
Then the car headed straight for the field full of kids instead.
There was almost a tragedy on the ‘Smokey and the Bandit’ set
Luckily, no child actors got injured during the incident. But it looked that way for a few minutes.
“I saw kids in front of the car disappear,” the Bo Bandit star continued. “And I was waiting for that, ‘thump, thump, thump,’ but we went right over them.”
He also remembered all the children’s parents watching the potential horror unfold in front of them. “Two of the mothers fainted. And I don’t blame them,” Reynolds said.
The actor went on to describe how he apologized to the parents later, even though the mistake wasn’t his fault. He remembered them being gracious and even mentioning how the kids found the whole situation fun and exciting.
It’s humorous to look back on knowing that a tragedy didn’t happen. But if things had gone a different way, Smokey and the Bandit would be a memorable film for a totally different reason.