For a guy who was one of the greatest movie idols of all time, Paul Newman sported surprisingly little ego.
Or so that’s impression he made on fellow screen stud Bo Svenson.
Interviewed on Super ’70s Flashback!, Bo, a veteran of such films as North Dallas Forty and Heartbreak Ridge, discusses being cast opposite Robert Redford in a role meant for Paul, who passed away last year at age 83.
“While we were making The Great Waldo Pepper, right outside Elgin, Texas, Paul Newman came by. I thought he’d arrived to replace me, because I know that I had replaced him in the movie,” Bo tells host Carey Fisher of the 1975 flick.
“Originally, [director] George Roy Hill was going to make the movie with Robert Redford and Paul Newman. But [Universal Pictures President] Sid Scheinberg had made a joke to George asking him if that was all he could make— Robert Redford-Paul Newman movies, because at that time he had made The Sting and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
“George didn’t like that, so he had asked Paul to bow out. Then they looked around for someone, and for some reason, George hired me. So when Paul showed up on location, I packed my bags and went to the airport.
“The first assistant director caught up with me and was really pissed off and asked me where I was going,” continues Bo, who, in 1978, also played the lead in Enzo Castellari‘s Inglorious Bastards, and has a cameo opposite Brad Pitt in Quentin Tarantino‘s new remake, titled Inglourious Basterds.
“I said, ‘I’m going home.’ He said, ‘Why you going home?’ I said, ‘Well, I heard Paul Newman showed up—and I want to save you the embarrassment of firing me.’ So he got my bag and drove back to the set. And it was time for lunch by then.
“So here was Paul, and it was kind of awkward because some people knew that I’d gone to the airport. And I’m sitting next to him and the owner of this huge, fantastic ranch, who was a German immigrant. Then his daughter, who was about 15, asked Paul for an autograph.
“And Paul said to her, ‘No. I will only give you my autograph after you’ve asked your father for his.
“‘Look around you, girl. See what your father has accomplished. He arrived in the country without a penny to his name, and look at what he has accomplished.’
“‘Did you ever ask him for his autograph? No, you’re asking me for mine, just because I’m in the movies.’”
To hear Bo’s full interview, click here.