Of all of the risks Burt Reynolds has taken in his 50-plus year acting career, doing his own stunts in the iconic “Deliverance” was, “by far the most dangerous thing I’d ever done, or that any of us have done. They keep talking about a remake, but I don’t think you could find four actors crazy enough to do it.”
Three years ago, Jupiter’s own movie star shared with The Palm Beach Post those memories of the physically grueling and particularly hazardous shoot, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of that John Boorman classic. They resonate now for a different reason — Reynolds’ receipt earlier this month of a prestigious award recognizing his stunt work on his various projects, including “Deliverance.”
He was given the Richard Farnsworth Diamond Lifetime Achievement Award by the Stuntman’s Association of Motion Pictures at their gala at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles. He became the first actor to be honored by that organization.
The award, named after the late Oscar-nominated stuntman and actor, shone light on Reynolds’ experience at doing his own often dangerous stunts, including potentially fatal canoe shots in “Deliverance.” Reynolds said at the ceremony that being honored alongside stuntmen was one of “the highlights of my life.”
During the celebration of that movie’s anniversary, Reynolds remembered that none of the actors, including him, were “white water experts,” but that “in spite of the danger, or maybe because of the danger, it was the most fun I ever had.”
That fun came in spite of several accidents and injuries while shooting in Georgia, including the time he cracked his tailbone “going over the falls. It was pretty stupid. I thought it would just shoot me out, but it was like being shot out of a torpedo … I got into the canoe a fit 30-year-old, and came back as a stumbling old nude man, (because) the water ripped every bit of my clothing off,” he says.
“I asked John Boorman, ‘How did it look?’ and he said ‘Like a dummy going over the falls.’ ”