Burt Reynolds is not a fan of Florida governor Rick Scott. During a recent interview, the 81-year-old “Smokey and the Bandit” star blasted Scott for not doing more for Florida’s struggling film industry, which has faltered since the state’s tax incentive program was allowed to sunset last year.
“More films should be shot here,” Reynolds said. “It’s not Florida’s fault, because Florida’s got everything, you know? It’s the governor. I remember I went in to see him and I said, ‘You know, we ought to be shooting more movies down here.’ And he said, ‘Why?’ I said, ‘How did you get to be governor?’ He’s dumber than a peach orchard sow.”
Reynolds is Hollywood’s former No. 1 box-office draw, used his star power to stay close to home, routinely making movies south of the Mason-Dixon Line and attracting other celebrities to the Sunshine State during the height of his success.
Among the movies Reynolds made in his home state were “Smokey and the Bandit II” (1980), “Cop and a Half” (1993) and “Striptease” (1996). He chose Palm Beach as the setting for his short-lived ABC series “B.L. Stryker” (1989-90), on which he also served as executive producer.
But many of his most popular movies were filmed in Florida’s neighbor to the north.
“Deliverance” (1972), “The Longest Yard” (1974) and “Smokey and the Bandit” (1977) were made in Georgia. When Reynolds added directing to his resume, two of his first three films — “Gator” (1976) and “Sharky’s Machine” (1981) — were made in the Peach State.
Burt Reynolds starred in the 1974 movie “The Longest Yard.” Although the movie is set in Florida, Georgia State Prison stood in for the fictitious Citrus State Prison.
Adding insult to injury, “Gator,” a sequel to the 1972 film “White Lightning,” and “The Longest Yard” were set in Florida.
Reynolds, who worked on seven movies in Georgia, said he would have made more in Florida had the governor backed him.
“You can’t do it unless the governor’s behind you,” Reynolds said.
It could be argued that Reynolds raised the profile of filmmaking in Georgia, which now boasts one of the most successful film studios in the country outside Hollywood. Tyler Perry Studios, which opened on a former Army base in Atlanta, is a shooting location for AMC’s popular zombie series “The Walking Dead,” among other productions.
While that’s good news for Georgia, it could be catastrophic for Florida. The loss of funding seems to have taken a toll on Florida’s film industry.
Florida legislators now seem to be taking aim at the state’s film office. The Florida House recently filed a bill that would close, among other offices, Film Florida, which has been in existence for more than 40 years.
Scott did not reply to a request for comment.
Watch the interview below: