Though his career spans seven decades and countless TV and film appearances, chances are there’s one image that pops into your head when you hear the name Burt Reynolds (^ that one).
The iconic shot appeared in a 1972 issue of Cosmopolitan, cementing Burt’s status as a sex symbol and securing his title of the first actor to pose naked for the magazine. Burt would later discover that the then-editor of Cosmo had originally pitched the idea to Paul Newman, who turned it down.
In a recent interview with AOL at SXSW promoting a new documentary that explores the personal and professional bromance between Burt and his stuntman, Hal Needham, Burt reveals he wishes he’d turned down the shoot, too.
Reflecting on the photo, he said:
“I wish I hadn’t done that. I really do.
I mean, it was really stupid. I don’t know what I was thinking, but probably knowing me, I was like ‘You won’t do that, you chicken,’ and that’s all I had to hear, of course.”
So what ground rules did he lay, if any?
“As long as it was only a certain amount of pubic hair showing, then I was all for it.
The only rules I had was I wanted a lot of drinks before, because I was, well I have to be truthful — I was totally zonkered when we did the picture — that stupid smile is, that’s what it is.”
And while these footnotes are certainly noteworthy, they’re hardly the strangest comments from Reynolds’ interview.
Remembering his good friend and colleague Hal, Burt said:
“Knowing Hal, he was not only amazing in so many ways, he had a tremendous ego, which I quite loved. It was perfect, because you had these two guys that thought that the other one was great, and at the same time we were happy just to have a mirror there and to be interviewed.”
He added this final thought:
“His wife and he had an argument and she kicked him out, and he came and asked if he could stay at my house for a couple of nights, and I said ‘sure,’ and five years later he hadn’t left…If he’d have been a woman, I would have had such a great marriage. I thought about it — I didn’t want to tell him that because I was afraid he’d run, but I did think about it.”