Q&A: Burt Reynolds

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Burt Reynolds' recent guest stint on "Burn Notice," as a former superspy dragged back into action in Florida, wasn't life imitating art, but it was close. The 74-year-old actor, who reigned as the No. 1 boxoffice attraction from 1978-82, grew up in Riviera Beach, Fla., where his father Burt Sr. was chief of police, and he's worked in the state regularly throughout his career -- from his first film role in 1961's "Angel Baby" to his detective series "B.L. Stryker" (1989-90). The recent transplant back to the Sunshine State spoke with THR's Todd Longwell about coming home.

The Hollywood Reporter: What did it feel like to shoot in Florida again?

Burt Reynolds: I knew almost 90% of the crew. It was great to see them all. They brought in one stuntman, Glenn Wilder, in especially for "Burn Notice" because I wanted to beat him up again. I've been beating him up forever.

THR: Your stunt-heavy movies, "The Longest Yard" (1974) and "Gator" (1976), were set in Florida but shot in Georgia. Why?

Reynolds: Florida really had an atrocious attitude about movies, so I personally called (then-Gov. Reuben Askew) about "The Longest Yard," which is set in a prison, and he said, 'We don't want those movies here.' And I said, 'They're going to spend $10 million in Florida and do good things for the prison.' When we shot the film, we built four tennis courts and an athletic field for the Georgia Reidsville Prison.

THR: Had that anti-Hollywood mindset shifted by the time you started "B.L. Stryker"?

Reynolds: It was still changing -- the idea that (productions can) leave places the way they found them, and in better shape.

THR: Do you have any favorite memories from shooting the show on location in Florida?

Reynolds: We had a car that we called our Rambo car. We threw the director of photography and everybody in (it) and they'd shoot me, running around chasing people. It was fun. What I liked (was that here) I'm not Burt, I'm Buddy (his childhood nickname). A lot of cars would drive by and scream, 'Hey, Buddy!'

THR: You're regarded by Florida locals as a home-grown son. Do you find yourself giving a native's advice?

Reynolds: Yeah. You'll have a director in from California and see big black rain clouds in the sky and ask, 'Shouldn't we call a wrap?' And I say, 'Why? It won't be raining in 10 minutes.'

THR: How does it feel, at 74, to have your Hollywood glory days behind you?

Reynolds: I swore I'd never sound like a grumpy old man. I used to hear (what) all these guys would say about Hollywood when they got older like, 'It's not like it used to be.' That's the point. You move on.
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