The late actor's "Last Movie Star" director tells TooFab the Hollywood legend regretted posing for the groundbreaking photo for a very specific reason.
Burt Reynolds may be wearing a giant grin in that iconic nude Cosmopolitan centerfold he posed for in 1972, but the late actor truly "hated" it and "regretted it," according to his friend and "Last Movie Star" director Adam Rifkin.
The Hollywood icon has never been shy about that, frequently expressing his disdain for it in interviews over the years, however, Rifkin told TooFab Friday morning that the actor confided in him the real reason he's so bitter about it.
"Yeah, he hated that. He said he felt that that lost him a nomination for the movie 'Deliverance,'" Rifkin said. "Because 'Deliverance' came out and was getting great reviews, and then the Cosmo thing came out and it blew up. He felt people suddenly didn’t take him seriously as an actor."
The 1972 adventure thriller about a group of men on a Cahulawassee River rafting trip that turns into a nightmare when they encounter a couple of dangerous hillbilly moonshiners. Reynolds played skilled bowman Lewis in the critically acclaimed adaptation of James Dickey's novel, but was left out of the three Oscar nominations it received, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Editor. Reynolds' single Oscar nomination would finally arrive in 1998 for his supporting role as a porn director in "Boogie Nights," a movie the actor said he hated and had no interest in ever watching.
"He said he did the Cosmo thing because he thought it would be funny, and he said it just changed the course of everything for him and he regretted it," Rifkin continued while reflecting on his experience working with the movie legend, who passed away Thursday in a Florida hospital after suffering a heart attack at the age of 82.
In previous interviews, Reynolds was never very specific when expressing regret for the nude photo shoot. In 2016 he told Business Insider, "I think 'Deliverance' suffered because of it," but didn't elaborate on how.
"What an egomaniac that would do something like that," he told Katie Couric in 2017, and added, "I didn’t have to do that. But people thought you had to do it because it, you know, caused a little fuss and all that and I enjoyed that, but I didn’t enjoy doing it."
"I didn’t know there was going to be a commotion about it," he told Steve Harvey this past March while making the press rounds to promote "The Last Movie Star." The indie drama, currently streaming on Amazon Prime, ended up being his final role as a leading man, although Rifkin told TooFab that the actor was "in demand" in Hollywood again as a result of his fine performance.
Like it or not, the image of Reynolds' naked, tan and hairy body confidently sprawled across a bear skin rug has been cemented in pop culture history. In fact, Ryan Reynolds -- who is not related to Burt -- parodied it for the creative "Deadpool" marketing blitz, and used it to pay tribute to the deceased "Smokey and the Bandit" star on Twitter Thursday.
The Washington Post took it a step further, writing a lengthy analysis about how the picture "changed the way we thought about sex."
He is making history, but you’d never know it from his expression.
The 1972 photo — Cosmopolitan magazine’s first male centerfold — was a radical statement: that women had desires that deserved not just to be acknowledged, but to be catered to. Its publication sparked a sort of revolution in women’s magazines. Looking back after Reynolds’s death Thursday, the centerfold has a powerful legacy. It captivated readers, challenged ideas about sexuality and spawned a wave of new publications.
Reynolds, who told Conan O'Brien he was "so drunk" and "plastered" during the historic shoot, wrote in his memoir "My Life" that he did not agree to do it to make any kind of social statement.
"I wish I could say that I wanted to show my support for women’s rights, but I just thought it would be fun,” Reynolds wrote, and added he was surprised by the reaction from women once it hit stands.
"Standing ovations turned into burlesque show hoots and catcalls," he wrote. "They cared more about my pubes than they did the play."