BURT REYNOLDS: born February 11, 1936
Originally published February 11, 2015.
If this project highlights one thing about me, it’s that I have many influences. I can be obsessive and passionate, and I often consume art the way a starving person eats. I consume giant portions ravenously, unaware of whether or not I’m even getting full. For me, there are lessons to be learned from everyone, and so no amount of information or exposure feels unnecessary. As a result, I don’t have a lot of shallow passions – things I enjoy simply for enjoyment’s sake. Things generally need to have meaning to me in order to catch my attention. So it’s odd to people when I tell them that one of the most formative artists in my life was Burt Reynolds. To many people, Reynolds was the epitome of lightweight cinematic marketing. Sure, the world loved his movies, but the world loves the Kardashians and Domino’s pizza, as well. To most people, Reynolds was a paragraph in a much-larger, broad book of 1970s cinema. And while blockbuster special effects films and independent cinema and anti-heroic narrative would go on to become the standards for cinema, by the start of the new millennium, Reynolds would be relegated to a cinematic footnote. His career was primarily straight-to-video fare, his personal finances became a mess, and at age 78, Reynolds was auctioning off his personal belongings just to make ends meet. It was an ignominious ending for – I would argue – one of the better talents in the history of cinema. We came to know Burt Reynolds in the 60s and 70s because he decided to follow his own path; by the new millennium, he was paying the price for waling that path. Yet, despite all of the humbling moments and all of those difficult consequences, Burt Reynolds still feels like the kind of person we all should emulate.
- A Grantland.com story about Reynolds’ current drama teaching