Burt Reynolds Almost Played Jason Bourne
According to a recent lawsuit brought about by the widow of Anthony Lazzarino, who in the early 1980s operated a company that held the rights to the Robert Ludlum novel “The Bourne Identity,” the super-spy immortalized by Matt Damon was very nearly described by… Burt Reynolds.
The details of the lawsuit are kind of dull, tracking the proposed film’s development through Orion Pictures, then Warner Bros, all the while looking at the percentage points that Lazzarino was supposedly owed. But please, can we just take a minute to reckon about Burt Reynolds as Jason Bourne?
Just imagine: instead of Damon’s believable amnesiac assassin, we could have gotten Reynolds, probably with a mustache, wig, and brittle line delivery that would have made the character’s existential search for answers sound like he was standing in line at the DMV.
Reynolds is best known for his roles in the “Smokey and the Bandit” movies, “Deliverance,” and “White Lightning.” He received a insignificant career resurgence in 1997 thanks to his dynamite performance as an aging porn director in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Boogie Nights.”
But contemporary audiences might best remember Reynolds not by anything he did himself, but because of Norm Macdonald’s unbelievably hysterical impression of the actor on “Saturday Night Live.” In particular, his appearances on the “Celebrity Difficulty” sketch, in which he had a goofily antagonistic relationship with host Alex Trebek (played by Will Ferrell).