During an old interview, Andy Griffith revealed he had a horrible dream about one of his co-stars on The Andy Griffith Show.
Leading up to the 1986 premier of Matlock, Griffith spoke to reporters during a press tour, including United Press International (UPI). However, there were many years that it seemed unlikely for the actor to land another lead role on a hit show. For years after The Andy Griffith Show ended, the actor had trouble finding quality roles.
He became typecast as the wholesome sheriff of Mayberry. Therefore, Griffith went out of his way to take roles that were the exact opposite of Sheriff Andy Taylor. In fact, it all came to a head the night before he began work on a made-for-TV movie titled Pray for the Wildcats.
“I woke that night before. I was going to play a scene the next day, like a rape scene – it’s the reason I took the part. And that night before I had a nightmare,” Griffith said, according to an article by UPI.
“I dreamed I killed Don Knotts (Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show). I did. And I woke up the next morning and my conscience was killing me. I called Don and I couldn’t find him anywhere,” he added.
The actor was overcome with concern while on the set of the movie. Later that day, Griffith looked for clarity when speaking with his shrink. The actor explained his nightmare and said he thought he had it because he was subconsciously killing off his old, clean-cut image.
“[The shrink] said, ‘Yeah, that’s right, that’s what you were doing.’ Isn’t it funny? I was killing the image of Andy Taylor that day and it bothered me to the point that I had that nightmare,” Griffith revealed.
‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Star’s Troubles Didn’t End There
Although Andy Griffith seemed to figure out his troubling dream, he faced another hardship soon after. The actor fell off his roof while fixing it and broke his back. Yet after finally recovering from the injury, he got Guillain Barre syndrome. The rare disease paralyzed him from the knees down. He was forced to wear plastic braces on his legs for years.
The former The Andy Griffith Show star didn’t act for five years, and at times thought his career had come to an end. During his hiatus, Griffith’s psychiatrist helped him through the rough patch.
“I haven’t gone for a while, but at one point I thought I was crazy. So I needed a little guidance there,” Griffith said. “I just felt I was a little nuts and I met a man who was a wonderful psychiatrist. My friend Don Knotts says everybody could use a little psychiatry. And I think all of us could use a little guidance once in a while.”
Thankfully, Griffith was able to move on from his injuries and the disease. Additionally, he had one more hit show lined up when he signed on to play the lead in Matlock. Once again, the actor plays a good guy as Atlanta lawyer Ben Matlock. But the character has a bit more grit to him than Andy Taylor. Griffith loved the role and was ecstatic to be acting once again.
“Those of us who are older who get a shot at [television], we better have something to say when we get there, and say it well,” Griffith said earnestly. “… I’m delighted for myself. I’m delighted to be working, just tickled to death.”