The following is from an e-mail interview we did with legendary actor Burt Reynolds about the new documentary, The Bandit, an inside view of the friendship between Mr. Reynolds and stuntman extraordinaire and Smokey and the Bandit director Hal Needham. Thanks to Todd Vittum for coordinating this exclusive interview.
Mike Fishman for IndependentFilmNow: How did Burt Reynolds and Hal Needham meet? What drew them to become such close lifelong friends?
Burt Reynolds: We met on the set of Have Gun Will Travel. He was doubling Dick Boone and was already in demand on many shows. I was on the studio lot and doing Riverboat but my day was short so I would see what some of the other shows were doing. Later he doubled me on my show.
IndependentFilmNow: How did Hal come to direct Smokey and the Bandit? Did he write it specifically for Burt?
Burt Reynolds: He didn’t say that but I think he did. It was the studio that told him if you can get your roomie, we can do it.
IndependentFilmNow: What was the most challenging stunt you and Hal devised?
Burt Reynolds: The car canon in McQ – it was supposed to flip over twice – Hal used too much black powder and it flipped more than a dozen times.
IndependentFilmNow: Where did the idea for the film The Bandit come from? Was director Jesse Moss (The Overnighters, Full Battle Rattle, Speedo) involved from the start?
Burt Reynolds: He’s big in the documentary world – it was his idea from the start. I opened up my archives and did a few days of interviews and we just got along so well. He’s a good one!
IndependentFilmNow: Are there any screenings coming up (Note: The Bandit screened in March to enthusiastic crowds at SXSW)?
Burt Reynolds: We’re showing the film at Nashville, San Francisco and a few other festivals.
Follow The Bandit.