Andy Griffith Once Explained the Incredible Way He Developed His ‘Matlock’ Character

by Tia Bailey

Classic TV icon Andy Griffith still has people talking about him to this day. He once revealed how he developed a popular character of his.

Griffith, who passed away in 2012, is well-known for many of his roles and shows, such as The Andy Griffith Show for example. He also starred in the show Matlock, which went on for 9 seasons from the mid-80s to the mid-90s.

The show was an American mystery legal drama that centered on “widower Ben Matlock, a renowned, folksy and popular though cantankerous attorney. Usually, at the end of the case, the person who is on the stand being questioned by Matlock is the actual perpetrator and Matlock will expose him/her, despite making clear that his one goal is to prove reasonable doubt in the case of his client’s guilt or to prove his client’s innocence.” Griffith starred in the show as Ben Matlock.

A clip from the Archive of American Television features Griffith sharing how he developed his character Ben.

“I let my imagination roam. I never worried about the law. They said that Raymond Burr did, but I knew that somebody else was there to look after the law part. I just wanted it to be entertaining within that framework,” he said.

He then added: “I got in a lot of fights with the judges. I got in a lot of fights with the prosecutor, because it was funny.”

The talented actor would basically try something and if it worked, it worked. He did what he thought was funny on the show, and it made for an absolute classic.

“I would orchestrate those fights often. I would get myself thrown out of the courtroom. Put in jail. Because it was funny. Hot dogs. This character loved hot dogs. That’s funny,” he said of adding humor to the show.

Andy Griffith Explained His Acting Process

Another way he added humor to the show was by asking his former partner on The Andy Griffith Show Don Knotts to appear on the show as well. Although audiences loved Knotts’ character, Knotts himself struggled a little bit with it.

“I wasn’t on it that much because the stuff that we had done together, you know, was strictly comedy and Matlock was not a comedy show,” Knotts said in a separate interview. “There was only so much we could do. We couldn’t go too far. We couldn’t do too much.”

However, despite it all, the show became widely loved by many. It ran for many more seasons than was usual at the time. Griffith had even once said that playing Matlock was “the best role he ever had on TV.” For those who want to watch the classic show, it is available to stream on Pluto TV and Philo.