Marking the 40th anniversary of Smokey and the Bandit, silver screen legend Burt Reynolds appeared as the guest of honor at the Rome International Film Festival (RIFF).
He was also there to promote his new film, Dog Years, in which he plays a washed-up former star who can’t come to grips with the fact that his glory days are over.
As attested throughout his pre-festival press conference, Reynolds holds a special affinity for the state of Georgia as a whole. The most successful films of his career, including Deliverance, The Longest Yard and Smokey and the Bandit, were all shot here, and he is often lauded as one of the fathers of the now-booming Georgia film industry.
Sporting a black, sequined suit and rose-tinted sunglasses, Reynolds deflected much of the credit to Georgia Film Commission co-founder, Ed Spivia, and then-Georgia governor, Jimmy Carter. “He wasn’t a politician, he was just a nice man,” Reynolds said of Carter. “His brother was a little strange, but that’s all right.”
When asked about his own role in putting Georgia film on the map, Reynolds said, “I don’t know if I had a big part in it, but I like to think I had some part in it. Every time somebody wants to make a movie with me, I always say, ‘Can we shoot it in Georgia?’ I just love coming here. I love the people here.”