Don Knotts’ role as the awkward but loveable Barney Fife in “The Andy Griffith Show” inspired one actor to get into the industry.
You might not recognize Doug Jones by name. But you likely recognize many of the fantastical creatures he’s played over the years. He’s starred in several Guillermo del Toro films, including “The Shape of Water” as Amphibian Man, “Pan’s Labyrinth” as Fauna and Pale Man, and “Hellboy” as Abe Sapien. You might also recognize him from “What We Do in the Shadows” as Baron Afanas and “Star Trek: Discovery” as Captain Saru.
Jones is exceptionally tall and thin, allowing him to slip into prosthetics and other costumes that would otherwise bulk up unnaturally. And the six-foot-three, 140-pound man attributes his start in acting to Don Knotts, per classic television site MeTV.
Knotts played Barney Fife on “The Andy Griffith Show” in the 1960s. He was a Deputy in the Mayberry Sheriff’s Office who worked closely with Sheriff Andy Taylor. Knotts’ comical character contrasted nicely with Griffith’s steady and strong presence. Where Andy was practical and composed, Barney was paranoid and overly alarmed about everything.
Like Jones, Knotts was also 140 pounds soaking wet, though he only stood at five-foot-seven. But seeing a lankier man on-screen receive such high praise inspired Doug Jones to get into acting. Per MeTV, kids called Jones an “ostrich” while he was growing up in Indiana. After seeing Barney Fife on “The Andy Griffith Show,” Jones knew he could lean into his physical awkwardness by going into entertainment.
“Don Knotts was just a master and a king to me,” Jones previously said. “He was not what you would consider a classically handsome man. So I figured if he could make it, so could I.”
Barney Fife Actor Don Knotts Remembers Meeting Andy Griffith Before ‘The Andy Griffith Show’
If you watch “The Andy Griffith Show,” you see immediate on-screen chemistry between Barney Fife and Andy Taylor. The two characters play off each other exceptionally well, all thanks to Andy Griffith and Don Knott’s acting skills. But it also helps that the two were fast friends, even before they started on the show together.
Back in 1999, Knotts shared the story of how the two actors first met on the NBC talk show “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.” Apparently, it all took place at NBC’s 30 Rock in New York City.
“Well it’s kind of a long story but there used to be a drug store down there called Cromwells where all the actors hung out,” Knotts said. “I was in there one day and somebody said, ‘You should go down and see Morris Evans. They’re putting a play on Broadway called No Time for Sergeants.’”
He continued, “So I ran out of here and went down to see Morris Evans and I got a reading in the thing and got a part in the play. And the play starred Andy Griffith. And that’s how we became friends.”