Burt Reynolds was a highly influential actor who starred in “Gunsmoke,” “The Longest Yard,” “Smokey and the Bandit,” “Hooper,” “Boogie Nights,” and “Cannonball Run II.”
He was voted the world’s No. 1 box office star for five years in a row from 1978 to 1982. Some even consider him a “sex symbol” of that time period. During the 1980s, he was at the absolute peak of his career.
Why did a Clint Eastwood movie almost completely derail Burt Reynolds’ acting career?
Burt Reynolds plays Mike Murphy, a private investigator. Meanwhile, Eastwood plays Police Lieutenant Speer. The two were once partners but had a falling out that led them to become bitter enemies. A murder forces the two rivals to come together again.
Burt Reynolds On-Set Accident
On the very first day of filming, Burt Reynolds was a part of a major incident on-set. There was a fight scene where someone breaks a chair over Reynolds’ head. The prop was supposed to be constructed in a way that it would fall apart easily after barely coming in contact with the actor.
However, the actor working with Reynolds picked up the wrong chair and smacked him with a heavy-duty metal chair instead. He was “caught on the jaw” and had a “blinding headache and ringing in my ears.”
Unfortunately, his jaw was completely lopsided. It was difficult for him to speak and chew, which led him to a liquid diet and rapid weight loss. He took pain pills throughout the project.
It really impacted the next few years of his career. Eventually, he discovered he had a temporomandibular disorder. It has to do with the joint that connects a part of the jaw with the skull. It ultimately impacts balance and sensory perception.
The solution was to realign all his teeth. That wasn’t until all his bottom teeth were sawed off as a first step in finding a solution.
Personal Life and AIDS Rumors
On-screen Reynolds was a funny, playful, and macho character in his widely successful films. Off-screen he had quite a different reputation. He was a playboy, a heavy drinker, a drug addict, a publicly troublesome romantic life, and a pretty gnarly temper.
According to The Washington Post, Burt Reynolds hit director Dick Richards while they were filming “Heat” in 1986. This cost him $500,000 to settle and put him in a bad place with Hollywood executives.
His injury started rumors that he had AIDS. It was at a time when people did not understand what AIDS is as much as we do now. He was heavily medicated and lost more than 60 pounds from his sturdy and strong 200-pound body.
While his jaw condition brought his career down, so did his reckless behavior, personal troubles, and public messy divorce with Hollywood icon Loni Anderson.
His comeback came with the movie “Boogie Nights.”