SXSW Interview: Burt Reynolds on the 70s and his new documentary

It may not be Smokey and the Bandit but close, Burt Reynolds, now 80, returns to screen in Jess Moss’ The Bandit.

A intimate documentary showcasing Reynolds’ relationship with Hal Needham, the director of Smokey and the Bandit, a legendary stuntman, and lifelong pal to Reynolds. Larry Heath caught up with the man himself.

If you’re looking at a film made in the 70s, what advice would you give to a younger Burt Reynolds?

Well, there was a whole bunch of different rules in the 70s, we had to follow. But I’m not so sure, that the language of now, in films, makes it better. I think we couldn’t say what was said now, and I’m blown away by what they did get away with saying. Ya know,  I guess it changed with time… whatever it is. My son’s 27,  and I’m not too crazy about the films he loves (laughs).

What does it mean for you to have Hal’s story told … after what seems too long for the story to be told.

Well, I’m surprised and flattered that anybody’s interested in me now. I’ve been up and down the mountain. I always tell young actors you’ve got to learn to get up cause their gonna knock you down, probably four or five times. After awhile they probably won’t knock you down anymore because you’re too good at it.

Do you think he’ll enjoy the film?

I think they all will, yeah. It’s a fun film. You’ve got (Jackie) Gleason, you can’t lose.

Thank you so much for your time and congratulations on the film.

The Bandit screened at SXSW. To find our more about the film, and to see if there are any more SXSW screenings, head here.