‘The Andy Griffith Show’: How Don Knotts Truly Felt About His Character Barney Fife

by Anna Dunn
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The Andy Griffith Show actor Don Knotts was best known for playing Barney Fife, but over the years that resulted in some typecasting. In a recent interview with his daughter Karen Knotts, who is coming out with a book about her and her father called Tied Up in Knotts: My Dad and Me, talked about how Don Knotts truly felt about Barney Fife.

When asked about how he felt about his character over the years, Karen was quick to say how grateful he was for the role. He understood that it was his ticket to fame, and while he sometimes wished he had more things to do as a performer, he loved comedy. Therefore, when he was typecast throughout the rest of his career, he coped with it by reminding himself that it allowed him to shine in comedy– which he absolutely loved.

Don Knotts was able to Cope with Typecasting

Not to mention, that playing Barney was also a really intense job. The Andy Griffith Show was one of the most popular and iconic shows of its era. It’s generation-defining. Because of that, the pressure was on. And even though Knotts was grateful for his time as Barney Fife, he eventually decided it would be best to leave The Andy Griffith Show and pursue other work.

“And playing Barney was tremendous work. He had no time off really because they did so many shows in those days. And when he wasn’t filming, he was learning his lines on the weekends. And it was a physically demanding character,” Karen told Fox.

“They would always shoot dad’s scenes in the morning when he had the most energy. But after 10-12-hour days, you just can’t continue. But he had that commitment to it. He, of course, welcomed opportunities to play different roles. But he was proud of Barney,” she continued.

There Was No Bad Blood when Don Knotts Left ‘The Andy Griffith Show’

Don Knotts may have left The Andy Griffith Show, but his relationship with Andy Griffith remained strong regardless. Despite rumors that the two were rivals, they were actually very close friends according to Karen. Even towards the end of his career, Andy Griffith offered Don Knotts roles and wanted to work with him.

Don Knotts won over hearts as the absolutely hilarious bumbling Barney Fife. That character remains one of the most iconic TV characters of all time. But even people in roles like that occasionally need a fresh start. And while Barney Fife caused Knotts to get typecast for the rest of his career, it’s clear that the love of that character and the gratitude for his experience on The Andy Griffith Show never went away.

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