Burt Reynolds Opens Up About His Painful Relationship with His Father, Being Asked to Play Han Solo

Burt Reynolds reveals his father was emotionally distant on The Jonathan Ross Show Saturday

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Burt Reynolds is getting candid about his difficult relationship with his father.

“He didn’t ever, he couldn’t say ‘I love you,’ ” Reynolds divulged Saturday on The Jonathan Ross Show about his dad, Burton Milo Reynolds. “He was from that generation that didn’t hug and kiss and say, ‘I love you.’ ”

Reynolds, whose memoir But Enough About Me came out this fall, added that he does have one memory in which his father expressed his admiration. “He did say finally, ‘I’m proud of you’ and that was enough, that was enough for me,” the actor recalled.

“Right now it makes me cloud up when I think of it, when he said it to me,” explained Reynolds, visibly emotional. “That was ‘I love you’ in his way, yes.”

He then retold an anecdote about the time his father, who was a police chief, threw him in jail for fighting with “every drunk he arrested.” “It was a tough three days,” Reynolds remembered. “Did I learn anything from it? Yeah, I learned that he was never going to say ‘I love you, go home.’ ”

The Boogie Nights star revealed he first got involved with acting when his promising football career was derailed by an injury. “I wandered from where the football was at the university to my father who was on campus and he turned out to be in the theatre,” Reynolds explained. “And I walked on the stage and it was amazing, it was like the first time I walked on a football field and I thought ‘this is home.’ ”

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While Reynolds saw a career for himself in acting, his father wasn’t so convinced. “I think he laughed then he said ‘how sweet.’ I don’t think he meant it … it wasn’t a happy day for him when I told him that I was going to go in the theatre.”

Trying to assuage his father’s concerns, Reynolds told him, “Well I don’t intend just to go to the theatre, I intend to go into it and be a big success,” adding later, “I’m very good but I’m going to do it for you.” His father responded simply, “Worth a chance.”

Asked how it felt never getting any love from his dad, who died in 2002, Reynolds admitted that, “A little bit would have been nice, just a tiny little piece … I never got that.” He continued, “He was a strong, strong man. I idolized him, most people did that knew him and it was tough time for me.”

Growing up with that distant relationship has caused Reynolds to take a very different approach to parenting his own children. “My son, who I hug and kiss and grab and love and say ‘I love you, I love you, I love you,’ when he sees me coming, he covers his face but I can’t help it,” he said. “I don’t want him to have what I have, I want him to know that his father loves him so much.”

Reynolds appeared on the The Jonathan Ross Show alongside Star Wars: The Force Awakens star Simon Pegg, and revealed that he was once tapped to appear as Han Solo in the original films. “I’m not a big fan of science fiction,” Reynolds explained about turning down the role, but later admitted with a laugh, “I should have done it actually.”

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