Reynolds was top sex symbol of the 1970s

The actor, who famously appeared nude in a magazine centrefold, was nominated for an Oscar in 1997

Actor Burt Reynolds, seen here in a photo taken in March, died on Thursday after suffering chest pain.
Actor Burt Reynolds, seen here in a photo taken in March, died on Thursday after suffering chest pain.PHOTO: NYTIMES

NEW YORK • Burt Reynolds' career stalled in the mid-1980s, rebounding only in 1997 with an Oscar nomination for his supporting role as a porn director in Boogie Nights.

But the actor told talk-show host Conan O'Brien this year that he had turned down the role seven times.

It "just wasn't my kind of film", he said, and "made me very uncomfortable". He later fired his agent.

And what was that about Reynolds wanting to hit director Paul Thomas Anderson in the face?

"No, I didn't want to hit him in the face - I just wanted to hit him," he corrected O'Brien.

"I don't think he liked me."

Reynolds, 82, who was set to appear next summer in a Quentin Tarantino film, died on Thursday at a hospital near his Florida home. He had suffered chest pain.

At the peak of his career, he was one of the most bankable actors.

With his trademark moustache and rugged looks, Reynolds was a leading male sex symbol of the 1970s.

He famously appeared naked in a centrefold in women's magazine Cosmopolitan in 1972.

Reynolds' personal life sometimes overshadowed his movies, including marriages that ended in divorce to actresses Loni Anderson and Judy Carne and romances with Sally Field and Dinah Shore, among others.

His financial woes and struggles with prescription pain medication also generated attention.

Reynolds cited Oscar-nominated Deliverance (1972) as his best movie and regretted that the hoopla from his Cosmopolitan appearance detracted from the film that made him a star.

Throughout an often turbulent career that spanned some 100 films and countless television appearances, he had close brushes with death, some resulting from his insistence on doing dangerous stunts.

To many in Hollywood, Reynolds was an enigma. Tormented by self-doubt - he particularly disliked hearing how much he resembled the young Marlon Brando - he was also strong-willed, clashing often with directors and producers.

Many of Reynolds' films were set in the South. He often played a lovable rascal who outwitted the local authorities, as in 1977 action comedy Smokey And The Bandit, co-starring then-girlfriend Field.

While some of his performances were praised, others were ridiculed, particularly in bloated action comedy Cannonball Run II (1984).

Reynolds said in 2012 he regretted some of his film choices.

"I took the part that was the most fun. I didn't take the part that would be the most challenging," he told television interviewer Piers Morgan.

Success gave Reynolds the freedom to try new things, including directing and musical comedy - feebly, critics said.

Asked to come up with his own epitaph, Reynolds once said: "He lived a hell of a life and did his best - his very best - not to hurt anybody."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2018, with the headline 'Reynolds was top sex symbol of the 1970s'. Subscribe