Judge Reinhold Says a ‘Murder Plot’ Ruined His Career for Decades

Beverly Hills Cop Judge Reinhold, 1984
Paramount/Everett Collection

It hasn’t always been easy for actor Judge Reinhold in Hollywood. He was on track in the 1980s to become one of the biggest stars of the decade but a series of unfortunate events changed his fate. Of course, he eventually turned things around and now stars in the upcoming Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F, reprising his role as Billy Rosewood. In the ’80s, Reinhold was making a name for himself after appearing in the first Beverly Hills Cop movie and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. So much so that he got the lead role in a film called Vice Versa, alongside Wonder Years star Fred Savage. Reinhold said that the movie did not do well because it did not get a fair chance at the box office due to drama while filming the movie.

He explained that producer David Puttnam became the CEO of Columbia Pictures in 1986 and wanted to increase the backend profits quickly. He said that Puttnam “went public with his disdain for how high the salaries were and what he wanted to do, and he pissed a lot of people off. By the time we were ready to be released … He didn’t know, but the guillotine had been set. People didn’t like him, so they wanted him out.”

He added, “I swear to God, I trusted him. He told me, ‘I want to use you as a template. Take a cut, and we’re going to make this work, and if the film is profitable, you’re going to benefit.’ And that’s the way it should be. And so we’ll bring the price down up front.” Unfortunately, around the same time, a similar movie called Like Father, Like Son was released and it didn’t help Vice Versa at the box office. He called it an “executive murder plot” and admitted after the entire situation happened, the phone stopped ringing and he wasn’t able to get many gigs for a while.

Vice Versa Judge Reinhold, 1988

Columbia Pictures/Everett Collection

Unfortunately, this wasn’t even the first time that Reinhold got screwed over on pay. In 1980, he starred in a film that has been titled both Running Scared and Desperate Men and at one point was told by the director that the money was almost gone and hoped they could pay him later. He knew that would probably never happen so he negotiated into keeping the 1959 Cadillac that he drove in the film.

Head Office Judge Reinhold, 1985

TriStar/Everett Collection

He revealed, “They worked it out a little too easily. I got that car. My mother was a realtor in Boca Raton, and I had to leave the car with her and fly back to Los Angeles to audition for ‘Ordinary People’ for Robert Redford. While I was doing that, my mother had an accident in the car, and it turns out the car was stolen. Somebody had scraped off the registration number. I remember I was on a pay phone in LA and had to explain it to them, and I told ’em where the production office was, but it was long gone.”

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1980s Top Summer Blockbusters

July 2019

Celebrate the biggest summer movies of the ’80s, when moviegoing morphed from mere entertainment to blockbuster events.

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