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In an interview at Austin’s South by Southwest Festival, Burt Reynolds opened up about his most recent film, the documentary The Bandit, as well as one of his biggest (and widely recognized) regrets.
“I was really happy that it was Burt and Hal, not just Burt or not just Hal. I was happy that it was the two of us together,” the legendary actor told AOL of the Jesse Moss-directed doc about the friendship between him and his infamous stuntman, Hal Needham. “I thought he was — and he was — the best stuntman that ever lived.”
The Bandit, which gives an inside glimpse to the making of the 1977 Needham-directed, Reynolds-starrer Smokey and the Bandit, highlights the duo’s deep friendship and premiered last week at the 2016 fest.
When asked about his iconic April 1972 Cosmopolitan spread, Reynolds readily admitted his reluctance to being the first male nude centerfold in the magazine: “I wish I hadn’t done that. I really do.
“It was really stupid. I don’t know what I was thinking,” he continued of his scantily clad photo shoot, in which he lay atop a bearskin rug with a cigarette pressed between his smirked lips. “Probably, knowing me, it was like, ‘You won’t do that, you chicken,’ or something and I went, ‘Well, that’s all I had to hear,’ of course. I said, ‘Yeah, I will.’
“As long as it was only a certain amount of pubic hair showing, then I was all for it,” the 80-year-old actor said of his younger self who opted to pose in the naked shot. “The only rules I had was I wanted a lot drinks before because I was a little bit, well, I have to be truthful, I was totally zonkered when we did the picture. And that stupid smile, that’s what it is,” he said before reenacting the grin.
“Knowing Hal, he not only was amazing in so many ways, but he had a tremendous ego, which I loved,” Reynolds said of his late friend and colleague, who died at the age of 82 in 2013. The actor revealed that the two “never” fought, there was “never” any competition between them and that they simply were “two guys that thought that the other one was great and at the same time we were happy just to have a mirror there.”
After Needham’s wife kicked him out of the house, the stuntman bunked at Reynolds’ home for five years. “We never, ever had a cross word that entire time,” he said.
Asked if he misses Needham, Reynolds didn’t skip a bit: “Oh, all the time. Yes.”
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