He was one of Hollywood’s leading hunks of the ’70s, and was still starring in major films in the 1990. He’s kept working in movies and television in recent years and his 2015 memoir reached number 3 on the New York Times Best Sellers list.
In a phone interview from his home in Jupiter, 80-year-old Burt Reynolds sounds much frailer than he does in his in his most famous roles, in films such as “Deliverance” and “Boogie Nights.” But he’s not slowing down.
His latest film. “Elbow Grease,” will screen at this year’s Sarasota Film Festival. Reynolds is the only big name in the cast.
“It’s a very sweet film, family film,” Reynolds said. “I got to work with actors that I like very much. Keith Harris, especially, who plays my son, I really like.”
Writer-director-co-producer Jason Shirley and co-producer Paul Papadeas grew up in South Carolina, Reynolds said, “they wanted to spotlight what it was like to grow up in the South in the 1990s.”
Reynolds plays the patriarch of the Barnes family, who are having trouble enough keeping their lives together when wayward son Randy comes home and infects the whole town of Guppie, S.C., with the family’s craziness.
Harris, who actually goes by R. Keith Harris, is a lot like Mark Wahlberg, who starred with Reynolds in “Boogie Nights,” Reynolds said. It was the first major film role for Wahlberg, who had been known as a rapper.
“They’re both young tigers,” Reynolds said. “They’re going to do well.”
Reynolds’s other recent project is “But Enough About Me,” his memoir that came out last year, in which he chronicles, among other things, his roles in such films as “Semi-Tough and “Smokey and the Bandit,” his marriage to Loni Anderson and his relationship with Sally Field. The ending of that relationship, Reynolds writes in the memoir, is the biggest regret of his life.
“What I found out in writing this book,” he said, “is that I have another book in me.”
He doesn’t live to far away from Sarasota, so he’s hoping to make it over here for the screening of “Elbow Grease” at the film festival, but he hasn’t committed to it.
“You say ‘yes’ and then the New York Times calls and you have you have to go somewhere else,” he said. “You know how it is.” Actually, though, not many people who aren’t Burt Reynolds — movie and TV star, former sex symbol, best-selling author — really know how that is.