Burt Reynolds' family issued a statement on his death Thursday. The Smokey and the Bandit star was 82 years old.
"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 to The Hollywood Reporter.
"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. My uncle was looking forward to working with Quentin Tarantino [In Once Upon a Time in Hollywood] and the amazing cast that was assembled," Hess continued.
In May, Reynolds was cast as George Spahn, the 80-year-old man who owned the ranch where the Manson Family lived.
Once Upon A Time in Hollywood is set in 1969, with Leonardo DiCaprio as a former Western TV star and Brad Pitt as his longtime stunt double. DiCaprio's next-door neighbor happens to be Sharon Tate, played by Margot Robbie in the film. Other members of the cast include Damian Lewis, Luke Perry, Emile Hirsch, Dakota Fanning, Al Pacino, Scoot McNairy and Lena Dunham.
Although Reynolds was struggling with his health, he never stopped working. In March, he appeared in the boxing movie Shadow Fighter. His next film, Defining Moments, will be released in December.
Reynolds appeared in more than 180 TV shows and movies during his career, which started in 1958. He became a household name during the 1970s and early 1980s with films like Deliverance, Smokey and the Bandit, The Cannonball Run, Stroker Ace, Best Friends, City Heat, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and Hooper.
Reynolds later won a Golden Globe and earned an Oscar nomination for Boogie Nights.
In his final interview, given to Florida Weekly, Reynolds said he was really proud of his recent work, particularly the film The Last Movie Star. It was shot in 2016 and earned critical praise after its release.
“I’m really proud of the work I’m doing,” Reynolds says. “You have to be given the parts before you can take the chances. I’m being given the parts now.”0comments
Reynolds added, “For the first time I got to show vulnerability. It was a good exercise for me as an actor.”
Photo credit: GAB Archive/Redferns/Getty Images