Hollywood actor Burton Reynolds, who died aged 82 on Thursday, starred in some of the biggest hits of the 1970s and ’80s, including Deliverance (1972), Smokey and the Bandit (1980), Semi-Tough (1977), Hooper (1978) and The Cannonball Run (1981).
But the one-time heartthrob, known for his ultra-masculine roles, may have reigned over the box office for a few more decades had he taken more risks with his career. At the height of his stardom, Reynolds had turned down the roles of Hans Solo in the first Star Wars film, ex-astronaut Garrett Breedlove in Terms of Endearment (1983), and policeman John McClane in the Die Hard films. He had also indicated that he turned down the lead role in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Pretty Woman.
Reynold’s last major role was in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights (1997) which fetched him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. In the 2000s, he appeared in a series of small films and straight-to-DVD releases before winning critical acclaim for his performance in indie film The Last Movie Star (2017). That paved the way to a role in Quentin Tarantino’s star-studded Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, but he died before he could shoot his scenes, according to reports.
Tributes poured in on social media for Reynolds. Several celebrities, including his The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982) co-star Dolly Parton, actor Michael Chiklis expressed their sadness on social media.
Actors Billy Dee Williams, Adam Sandler and David Hasselhoff, actress Mia Farrow ad filmmakers Edgar Wright, Kevin Smith and the Farrelly Brothers also shared their memories with the actor.
Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds revisited the Hollywood veteran’s iconic and controversial naked pose from the April 1972 Cosmopolitan magazine’s centrefold.
Burt Reynolds, after beginning his career in television headlining the crime dramas Hawk and Dan August, became a huge star in the late 1970s with successive box-office hits. Between 1978 and 1982, Reynolds was the highest-grossing star at the time. His breakout role was as one of the four Atlanta men trying to survive the wilderness from a group of pyschopathic hillbillies in Deliverance (1972).
“If I had to put only one of my movies in a time capsule, it would be Deliverance,” Reynolds had written in his 2015 memoir, But Enough About Me. He said he wasn’t sure if his performance in Deliverance was his career-best, but he knew it was the best film he had ever done. “It proved I could act, not only to the public but me,” he wrote.
Reynolds’s best work in the movies came with Boogie Nights where a then-27-year-old Anderson cast him as the patriarchal producer and director of pornographic movies in the golden age of American porn. Prior to the Oscar nod in 1998, Reynolds won several awards for the role including the Golden Globes.
However, Reynolds reportedly had problems with Anderson’s shooting style, and when he saw himself in the film for the first time, he fired his agent.
One of his last memorable appearances on screen was in the adult-animated series Archer. In a 2012 episode, Reynolds played himself. He was brought in as the boyfriend as Malory Archer, who is an intelligence agency director and the mother of the series’s protagonist and daredevil spy, Sterling Archer.