Andy Griffith said Matlock was the ''best role he ever had on TV''

Yep, even better than Sheriff Taylor. Do you agree?

The Everett Collection

More than 60 years after it premiered, The Andy Griffith Show still draws millions of viewers each week. It is, inarguably, one of the most beloved television shows of all time. Chalk that up to the irresistible characters — Barney, Opie, Aunt Bee, Gomer, Goober, and Sheriff Andy. They feel like family.

But Andy Griffith himself preferred a different role. He found Matlock to be more satisfying as an actor.

"This character can go in more directions than any I've done before," Griffith told the Associated Press in 1987, as the first season of Matlock was coming to a close. He and the journalist sat over coffee in a country club, reflected on his second round of success as a television star.

"Griffith says he thinks it's the best role he ever has had on TV," the writer reported.

"It's a wonderfully conceived part," Griffith added. "You're almost unlimited in what you can do with the part."

It might be shocking to hear for Mayberry fans, but it makes sense that he thought that. Essentially, Matlock was an amalgam of his greatest characters. Matlock had the Southern charm and wit of Sheriff Taylor — and the darker of his earlier dramatic roles. The lawyer had an "edge," Griffith and his interviewer noted.

"Dig beneath that Southern charm and you find thorns," the piece explained. "Matlock has more in common with Lonesome Rhodes from A Face in the Crowd." That 1957 drama traced one man's downward spiral into trappings of fame. And it was perhaps Griffith's greatest dramatic acting.

Yet, it took Griffith the span of the first season to really figure this all out.

"Before we came on the air I couldn't tell you what made us different or what Ben Matlock different from Perry Mason," Griffith said. He whittled the character like Sheriff Andy might a piece of wood. "Once you're on the air the show begins to take on a personality."

Griffith preferred that patient approach. It had worked for The Andy Griffith Show

"We started [The Andy Griffith Show] with just me and the aunt and the boy," Griffith said rather matter-of-factly.

Griffith revealed that his Matlock dialogue required more study and practice on his part. Perhaps that added to his enjoyment of the role. At the age of 60, he was still pushing himself.

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36 months ago
I just couldn't make friends with "Matlock." Mom loved that show & "Murder She Wrote."
AndreaZ 36 months ago
I love Matlock, but man, the courtroom scenes are so unrealistic. And I love how many of the trials occur within days of the crime.
37 months ago
Why did you delete my comment? Is it because I expressed my irritation at cutting Barney Fife's funniest lines and physical reactions to make room for more commercials?
JHP 37 months ago
and so the pic was Andy yelling

so so ironic
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DaleUhlmannXX 37 months ago
PilotTom 37 months ago
Loved the Andy Griffith show !!!! For some reason our local MeTv station WFOX Channel 30.2 in the Jacksonville Florida area will not show it while the rest of the USA gets to enjoy it . They will not answer emails as to why not !!!
JHP PilotTom 37 months ago
there are 3 letters in your stations ID - hmmm

maybe they are showing lindells pillow ads?
PilotTom JHP 35 months ago
Good one !
McGillahooala 37 months ago
There seems to be a lot of disagreement that Matlock was better. I agree that The Andy Griffith Show is one of the greatest. Who knows maybe Andy felt the same way. Actors often say that the project they are currently working on is the best. They’re trying to get people to tune in. He gave this interview after the first season of Matlock. Even if he thought making Matlock was more fun or thought it was a higher quality show when reflecting on it years later, we all know better.
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DaleUhlmannXX 37 months ago
JHP 37 months ago
huh?! turd

daleuhlmann 37 months ago
Thank you, moderator, for removing this offensive post. The one by Wounmay 97 promoting this "get rich quick" online job should be removed as well.
musicman37 37 months ago
I prefer Matlock myself. There's more to it than just "down-home", small-town stuff, more dramatics. Maybe being an urban/suburban dweller all my life, it just resonates with me.
Oscar 37 months ago
I agree with Andy, although I much prefer the Andy Taylor character, actors want to show off as much range as they can. It's what being a great actor is all about when compared to a just an 'actor'.
Sooner 37 months ago
They are both top flight shows of completely different genres. I can understand how he would enjoy the Matlock character more as it was a very eccentric personality that would be a blast to play.
ScottS Sooner 33 months ago
You are right on Sooner!
Rick 37 months ago
Of course an actor says their current role is the best they've ever had.

That's PR.

Like the story on Jackie Coogan you ran a couple of weeks ago, where he said Uncle Fester was more fun than playing "The Kid." That's what you say on a press junket.

Think how ridiculous it would have looked at the end of the first season of "Matlock" if Griffith had said, "No, Andy Taylor was a much better character."
deano1 37 months ago
It was his opinion and it would be foolish to judge his opinion. Did I enjoy TAGS more than Matlock? Yes, but I respect and understand his feelings on the matter. Of course, it is possible he said what he did because he was promoting his current show. Actors always try to promote their current series over a former one and there is nothing wrong with that. Imagine if he had said the opposite? This role is good but I miss playing Andy Taylor and wish this character was more like that one.
trogg888 37 months ago
being the egomaniac that iv read he was i would guess hed say that not having to share the spotlight with more talented actors than he was as he did on the andy griffith show,that show was so much better than matlock there s really no comparison
DoubleNaughtSpy 37 months ago
"It might be shocking to hear for Mayberry fans....."

Yep, yet another bitter pill of truth that the MAGA crazies must swallow.
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Wiseguy Pilaf 37 months ago
Sorry if you don't keep up with the news of the MAGA nuts.
JHP texasluva 37 months ago
you have to give them as aluminum pole that you bought with your last dollar for them to wave in a very close thunderstorm
texasluva JHP 37 months ago
Shocking, just shocking
AndreaZ DoubleNaughtSpy 36 months ago
Do us all a favor and double up on your meds.
Clark 37 months ago
Never watched a single episode of Matlock. I like Andy Griffith just find but I am not a fan of legal shows. My grandmother was a huge Perry Mason fan but never watched it myself. In fact the only legal drama I have ever watched was Law & Order and only the ones with Lenny Briscoe. I like cop shows okay but not ones about lawyers.
Sooner Clark 37 months ago
I never watched it when it was on either. I loved the Mayberry family so much, I just couldn't imagine watching Matlock. However, when it became syndicated, I made the mistake of watching one of the episodes, and I was hooked and couldn't stop watching it. It is very unique and not anything like most of the legal shows.
JHP Clark 37 months ago
perry mason IS...thee best

show continuity was very good
JosephScarbrough 37 months ago
He may have prefered the role as an actor, but he did not prefer the production process. In the book ANDY & DON: THE MAKING OF A FRIENDSHIP AND A CLASSIC AMERICAN TV SHOW (written by Don Knotts's brother-in-law, Daniel de Vise), Andy much prefered the level of creative freedom that THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW enjoyed, back when networks were mainly your "host," and would only check in periodically to see how things were going, but otherwise let the writing and production staff have the freedom to essentially make the show the way they wanted to make it. On MATLOCK, however, they had to deal with what he called "kids in suits" who worked directly for the network, and they were the ones basically calling all of the shots; he cared not for that far more corporate approach to making a TV show, and frankly, as a creative person myself, I don't blame him - when there's too much corporate influence (as is mainly the case today), the artistic and creative quality of a production suffers greatly. That's one of the reasons why older TV shows were so much better than much of the corporate mainstream garbage we have today.
JHP JosephScarbrough 37 months ago
to add

todays society allows this - cant stand camera coverage on a show that pans left to right as if foster brooks was doing the shooting
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JHP 37 months ago

DUMBpeople - look - just touch your phone and cancer and covid and HIV is cured
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