Chevy Chase Beat Out Burt Reynolds for the Main Role in This Memorable Comedy

by Matthew Wilson

Chevy Chase and Burt Reynolds starred in very different movies. So it may be hard to believe the two were in consideration for the same part. But one memorable Chevy Chase comedy almost had a very different leading man. Chase beat out Reynolds for the 1985 comedy “Fletch.”

The film was based on a novel by Gregory McDonald. As a result of selling the film rights to the book, McDonald had final approval over the casting choice for the lead character. According to IMDb, he rejected both Reynolds and also musician Mick Jagger as being unsuitable. They just didn’t fit who McDonald imagined Irwin “Fletch” Fletcher to be.

McDonald finally landed on Chase for the lead role. By that point in his career, Chase was also a well-known commodity. The actor started his career on “Saturday Night Live” and already appeared in popular comedies like “Caddyshack” and the first installment of the “National Lampoon’s Vacation” franchise as well. Chase capitalized on a sarcastic comedy which differed greatly from Reynolds’ more roguish style. They were very different kinds of actors.

Chevy Chase in ‘Fletch’

Chevy Chase starred in the film as an undercover Los Angeles reporter. Fletch was writing an in-depth investigation of drug trafficking in the city. But while posing as a drug addict, Chase’s character was propositioned to kill a millionaire in exchange for a large sum of cash. The reporter soon found himself in a tangled web of conspiracies, twists, and maybe even murder.

Much like Eddie Murphy during this era, Chase grounds the more outlandish elements of the plot. The reporter often can’t even believe what he found himself in. And Chase uses his trademark wit and sarcasm to hilarious effect, with a bit of physical comedy thrown in there. Chase’s character was a master of disguise and used various costumes throughout the film to accomplish his goals.

The film ended up being a box office success for the actor. “Fletch” made $59 million off a budget of only $8 million at the time. It was also well-received critically. In fact, Chase eventually starred in a sequel to the film four years later called “Fletch Lives.”

That film once again followed Chase‘s character on an outlandish case. The sequel proved to be less successful, however. For years, a third installment has languished in pre-development. But last year, there were talks of rebooting the franchise for a new generation of audiences.