In an interview published only hours before his death, Burt Reynolds made it clear he had no interest in slowing down, even at 82 years old. In fact, he felt the roles he was being offered in the past few years finally gave him an opportunity to take risks.
"I'm really proud of the work I'm doing," Reynolds told the Fort Myers Florida Weekly. "You have to be given the parts before you can take the chances. I'm being given the parts now."
Reynolds made five movies released in 2017 alone. He also starred in the boxing movie Shadow Fighter in March, and finished filming Defining Moments, which hits theaters in December.
One of the movies he made last year that earned good reviews was The Last Movie Star, in which Reynolds played an aging movie star coming to terms with his age. The movie also starred Chevy Chase and Ariel Winter, and was written and directed by Adam Rifkin.
"For the first time I got to show vulnerability," Reynolds said of the film, which was filmed in 2016. "It was a good exercise for me as an actor."
Reynolds had so much fun making the movie with Chase that they both signed on to make an untitled project together. He also signed on to star in Quentin Tarantino's all-star movie Once Upon A Time in Hollywood and another project called The French Cowboy. Reynolds died just weeks before filming was supposed to start on the Tarantino movie, sources told The Hollywood Reporter.
The star told Florida Weekly he has met with directors who praised him for branching out and taking more serious roles. But he disagreed.
"I'm not branching out. I'm getting better parts," Reynolds told Florida Weekly.
When Reynolds was not making movies, he was teaching acting students at the Burt Reynolds Institute of Film & Theatre in Jupiter, Florida.
"As a teacher I feel like I'm really at my best," Reynolds said.
"My uncle was not just a movie icon; he was a generous, passionate and sensitive man who was dedicated to his family, friends, fans and acting students," Reynolds niece, Nancy Lee Hess, said in a statement. "He has had health issues, however, this was totally unexpected. He was tough. Anyone who breaks their tailbone on a river and finishes the movie is tough. And that's who he was."
Defining Moments hits theaters on Dec. 25.
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