Burt Reynolds has died at the age of 82. The actor was one of the biggest movie stars of the 1970s, with films such as The Cannonball Run and Smokey and the Bandit making him a household name.
According to US Weekly, Reynolds died at the Jupiter Medical Center in Florida. Reynolds had lived in Florida for many years and had suffered ill health in recent years. Nevertheless, he had continued to act and was reportedly set to appear in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which is currently in production.
Reynolds leaves behind an impressive legacy. Although his movies were rarely popular with critics, at his peak he was the most popular actor in Hollywood. Between 1978 and 1982, he was the US’s top grossing star, with action and comedy films such as The Cannonball Run, Smokey and the Bandit, The Longest Yard, Starting Over, and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas proving to be box office gold.
Although Reynolds was best known for his relaxed, wise-cracking, charismatic on-screen persona, he also had some success as a more serious actor. In 1972 he appeared in John Boorman’s harrowing survival classic Deliverance, and his career enjoyed a brief renaissance when he starred in Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1997 movie Boogie Nights as a porn director who takes Mark Wahlberg’s character under his wing. The movie won Reynolds a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
However, Reynolds career never gained the subsequent momentum that Boogie Nights suggested it might, and much of his work since consisted of small roles in low budget movies and TV voicework on shows such as King of the Hill and American Dad.
In his 2015 memoir But Enough About Me, Reynolds admitted that he missed many opportunities over years. “I didn’t open myself to new writers or risky parts because I wasn’t interested in challenging myself as an actor, I was interested in having a good time,” he said. “As a result, I missed a lot of opportunities to show I could play serious roles. By the time I finally woke up and tried to get it right, nobody would give me a chance.” Nevertheless, his status as one of Hollywood’s greatest movie stars is undeniable.