Grown up Test: Burt Reynolds

Ruth Huntman / 23 June 2016

The legendary actor, speed freak and sex symbol was known for his affairs with leading ladies. He’s now 80 but how old is he in his head?

How old are you in your head? Try our online Grown-up Test quiz and find out

How do you feel about being called a sex symbol? 

I cringe. When you have that label, your IQ drops way down in people’s eyes. I thought someday I’d be so old it wouldn’t worry me. But it still does.

You once posed naked for Cosmopolitan

I’ve always regretted it as it damaged my image. I think it cost Ned Beatty and Jon Voight an Oscar nomination for Deliverance. A low point was when I checked into a hotel and found myself imprinted on the sheets.

Who would play you in a film of your life? 

I’d pick George Clooney, but he wouldn’t get the part because he’s too handsome and too good.

How troublesome are you? 

I’m still proud of dumping tons of horsesh*t on the National Enquirer's huge Christmas tree at their HQ in 1985. They’d been writing crap about me for years, so my pilot and I loaded my helicopter with manure, flew over and watched it cascade down the tree!

When did you last break the law? 

Yesterday, I got caught for speeding. I was a lot over the limit, that’s all I’m saying. I’ve been speeding all my life.

What makes your heart sing? 

Thinking of my time with Dinah Shore. And my greatest regret was when she and I parted ways. I’ve never found anyone like her since.

When did you last forget what you went upstairs for? 

About an hour ago. I forget things all the time, but it doesn’t bother me.

What did turning 80 mean? 

I know it’s a cliché, but I don’t think about it.

What makes getting older easier? 

To always have friends around me that make me feel younger. And keeping my sense of humour.

Twitter - yes, no, or what? 

I’m sorry? I really don’t know what you’re talking about...

What song gets you on the dance floor? 

‘Someone to Watch Over Me’ by the Gershwins. It tears me up every time.

What do you collect? 

Books. I have a huge library. It’s also great for making me look more intelligent.

The oddest thing a fan has sent you? 

A lady started sending me letters, which went from sweet to sexy then… pubic hair!  She must be bald and very cold down there as I think she came from Alaska.

Your first car? 

An old Chevy I nicknamed ‘Ol’ Rusty. My father was chief of police in our town and he found it. Instead of scrapping her, he gave her to me when I’d just turned 16. I loved her and she did well by me.

When are you happiest? 

Whenever I’m with my son Quinton. He lives in LA so unfortunately I don’t get to be with him enough. He’s grown up to be a lovely, unspoilt young man.

Who would you most like to say sorry to? 

I don’t think I ever did something to hurt someone on purpose. But I guess Sally Field.

Best thing you’ve ever done? 

I teach acting every week and I feel like a proud papa – I love it.

Tell us a secret about yourself? 

I can’t, there’s nothing left!

Biggest fashion mistake?

Every time I have to wear a tuxedo. On the red carpet I always looked like I’d left something out …and I usually did. Bow ties were always a disaster. I could never tie them so had to wear those stupid clip-ons that had a way of moving so by the time I walked into an event it was upside down or round the back. But I always had these terrific ladies who came to help me fix it, so I started to think maybe it was a good idea to always screw it up!

Plane or ship?

Neither. I like really fast cars where possible. Unless I’m with a beautiful lady, then I prefer something very slow and quiet.

What makes your heart sink?

The horrible things that have been written about me and some of my partners. But I learnt to laugh at it all and have a dig at myself before others get in first.

What do you wear around the house?

Nor much! I live in Florida and it’s very hot so I live in shorts and T-shirts.  It would be nice to be naked but I don’t want the poor mailman to be subjected to the sight of that.

What decade are you most nostalgic for?

Well, the Seventies were very good to me. But I liked them all. I’m not that crazy about now because I’m a senior citizen. But it helps to be in the movies because you are always ten years younger than in real life, but I can’t get away with it any more.

Which talent do you wish you could possess?

Playing the guitar like my friend Willie Nelson. I’ve tried to learn but I’m just not good at it.

What is your longest friendship?

Mo Mustaine, a guy I’ve known since school and still see every week. We’ve never had a cross word and I told him that if he’d have a sex change it would be the perfect relationship.

What’s your most prized possession?

My friends.

Best award you’ve ever received?

I just got a Lifetime Achievement award from the Stuntmen’s Association. It’s the first time they’ve given it to an actor and it’s much more important to me than any acting award. I was so touched and delighted I wanted to tie to the front of my car hood, but I thought that might be pushing it.

Greatest lesson your parents taught you?

That it’s possible to have a love affair that lasts forever. They were together 65 years. It’s something I always wanted for myself and still do.

What was your first teenage kiss?

A girl called Anne who gave me a ‘wow!’ kiss I wasn’t expecting. It was at a party where we played spin the bottle. Instead of kissing in front of everyone we did it in a room so I could make a real meal of it!

Preferred epitaph?

‘He had fun and he tried to make every relationship last forever.’

What’s the biggest lesson life has taught you?

Hang on to your friends as long as you can. When you get to my age it seems I’m losing someone every week and that’s so hard.

Have you kept any memorabilia from your movies?

I have some of the cars from Smokey and the Bandit, including an old Trans Am. They remind me of the laughs we had making it.

Verdict: Still getting speeding tickets and flirting, just as he was in the Seventies: we reckon in his head he’s the age he was in Smokey – 41!

But Enough About Me by Burt Reynolds and Jon Winokur is out now.

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