"He was a very important part of my life, but for a tiny little part of my life."
Burt Reynolds and Sally Field met on the sets of Smokey and the Bandits in 1977 and the chemistry between them was hard to deny. The two felt like they had known each other for years right in the beginning. “We had known each other about three days, four days at that point [during the filming of Smokey and the Bandit]. It was instantaneous, and four days felt like four years,” Field said in an interview with Diane Sawyer, according to PEOPLE.
“You can see it in our faces. We were sort of, you know, deeply entangled,” she told Sawyer. “That nature of it wasn’t just, ‘Oh, this is a love affair.’ There was some ingredient between us having to do with my caretaking and him needing to be taken care of,” she explained.
Reynolds and Field were together since 1977 and split in 1982 after five years of dating. Reynolds blamed himself for the crumbling of their relationship. “She was the love of my life,” The Longest Yard star told Vanity Fair in 2015 and confessed that he missed her. “Even now, it’s hard on me. I don’t know why I was so stupid. Men are like that, you know. You find the perfect person, and then you do everything you can to screw it up." The actor then went on to say, "There isn’t anything, no matter how good it is, or how good it tastes, or how much fun it is, where too much is good for you. It can destroy you. And you have to learn." Calling it a hard lesson he added, "You have to learn to back off and do as good as you can in your chosen profession. And don’t screw it up. And the best way to screw it up is having too much of a good thing.”
Burt Reynolds and Sally Field, 1978. 💑 pic.twitter.com/UW6vrZBSyn— Groovy History (@GroovyHistory) October 30, 2020
“I was always flattered when he said that,” Field told Sawyer of being called "the love of his life." She continued, “But he was a complicated man.” While talking to The New York Times about her memoir, In Pieces, she admitted that the contents of the book would "hurt him." Reynolds died on September 6, 2018, at 82 years old before the book's release. “I felt glad that he wasn’t going to read it, he wasn’t going to be asked about it, and he wasn’t going to have to defend himself or lash out, which he probably would have. I did not want to hurt him any further.”
She described their relationship as “confusing and complicated, and not without loving and caring, but really complicated and hurtful to me.” While their connection was intense and the actor was charming he was also controlling of her. According to Field, he was only able to accept certain aspects of her life and personality while uninterested in or disapproving of others. "We were a perfect match of flaws," she added.
The late, great Burt Reynolds and the wonderful Sally Field during the making of SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT, which opened on this day in 1977. pic.twitter.com/BQhvzVwl1H— Tribeca (@Tribeca) May 27, 2019
Despite the relationship being "emotionally abusive" the Mrs. Doubtfire star finds her time with Reynolds as a transformative phase. NPR reported her saying, “I've always thought of him rather nostalgically. He was a very important part of my life, but for a tiny little part of my life. I was only with him for about three years and then maybe two years on and off after that. But it was so hugely important in my own existence, my own movement as a person.”
On This Date in Film History with GVN: May 27— Geek Vibes Nation (@GeekVibesNation) May 27, 2021
Smokey and the Bandit (1977)
Starring: Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jackie Gleason, Jerry Reed, Pat McCormick, Paul Williams and Mike Henry
Directed by Hal Needham
Box Office $126 Million pic.twitter.com/sam0pgSr1F
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | (L) Photo by Mike Windle (R) Photo by Phillip Faraone