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After the play closed, the director, John Forsythe, arranged a film audition with Joshua Logan for Reynolds. Reynolds was told that he could not be in the film because he looked too much like Marlon Brando.Logan advised Reynolds to go to Hollywood, but Reynolds did not feel confident enough to do so.
In 1982, Reynolds became a co-owner of the Tampa Bay Bandits, a professional American football team in the USFL, whose nickname was inspired by the Smokey and the Bandit trilogy and Skoal Bandit, a primary sponsor for the team as a result of also sponsoring Reynolds' race team.
He used television fame to secure leading roles for low-budget films and played the titular role in Navajo Joe, before playing the title character in police drama Dan August (1970–71).
He later disparaged the series, telling Johnny Carson that Dan August had "two forms of expression: mean and meaner".
The Florida State Drama Award included a scholarship to the Hyde Park Playhouse, a summer stock theater, in Hyde Park, New York.
Reynolds saw the opportunity as an agreeable alternative to more physically-demanding summer jobs, but did not yet see acting as a possible career.