The Andy Griffith Show

Despite his talent for comedy, it was always Don Knotts’ dream to play a serious character

For his work on The Andy Griffith Show and beyond, Don Knotts had rightfully earned his place among the great Hollywood comedians. However, one of the primary reasons for Knotts’ continuous success, both in television and movies, was his constant desire to grow. When Knotts left The Andy Griffith Show, it wasn’t because of any bad blood between him and Griffith, the crew, or even the show’s network. Knotts desire to leave was borne out of his own motivation, and it was a decision that was understood.

By 1975, Knotts had already garnered a well-known reputation as an accredited film actor. However, throughout his career, Knotts had mainly stuck to what he knew and whether he was acting in television or films, he was making people laugh. Even before he was on The Andy Griffith Show was Barney Fife— a role that Knotts could undoubtedly credit for his emergence into mainstream appeal— Knotts has gained a reputation as a comedian for his “nervous man” act, keeping audiences laughing in their seats.

However, according to a 1975 interview with TODAY, Knotts revealed that while he loved doing comedy, he wanted to continue his growth as an actor and move to a role that was beyond his usual comfort zone.

Knotts confessed, “I would love to do a serious role.” However, he acknowledged, “I doubt that I’ll ever get that chance.” Knotts seemed to be aware that despite his willingness to move past Barney Fife, he wasn’t sure that audiences were able to do the same.

He stated, “I can’t go too far adrift, or turn around and do a villain and draw an audience.”

While the article cited Knotts’ statement that playing Barney Fife was “probably the best experience I’ve had in the business,” he wasn’t too thrilled with being pigeonholed by audiences and directors alike.

The actor stated, “I do mind, as a matter of fact.” He added, “I do a lot of theater and that’s the reason, because I usually do different roles.”

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