Andy Griffith liked his characters Southern
The North Carolina native had a reputation for playing characters from The South.
As one of the most famous television stars of our time, Andy Griffith has had the pleasure of living in a multitude of places, including California and New York. However, as a North Carolina native, Griffith knew that there were few finer places to grow up in than the South.
Griffith’s Southern roots had a lasting effect on his work, with his childhood and young adult memories influencing his depiction of the fictional town of Mayberry in The Andy Griffith Show. Griffith stated in a 1996 interview with The Atlanta Constitution that “All these characters were friends of mine, both on the screen and off the screen. Everything was so grand.”
However, Griffith also revealed that as an actor, he deliberately chose future roles because the character, like himself, was Southern. Obviously, there were other factors that went into Griffith’s decision to accept a new role, but he was clear on his preference: The character had to be Southern. Griffith’s explanation for this decision was fairly straightforward. He said, “I am a Southerner. I am a known commodity.”
This wasn’t necessarily a hard and fast rule for Griffith, and it wasn’t something that he was conscious of his entire acting career. In fact, in an interview with the Spokane Chronicle, Griffith recalled one of his previous non-Southern roles in Street Killings, where his character was from New York. Griffith said, “The only way I could survive in my own community was to become a character actor-and not necessarily a Southerner. I can be, but I don’t have to be.”
While Griffith had the range to play a character from any and all walks of life, it was clear that as he grew older and was allowed more power and say in the projects he chose, he was able to act upon what he wanted and felt was best for him.
Griffith’s attachment to the South was evident, even after years away. He said, “I’ve lived in New York. I’ve lived in California. I prefer the South. I prefer here, as a matter of fact, to anywhere.”