THE LEGEND OF BURT: A LOOK AT SOME OF BURT REYNOLDS' MOST MEMORABLE MOMENTS
For CHARGE! Network - Freelance
Here at CHARGE!, we take our hat off for one thing, and one thing only... Okay. We may not be as cool as the Bandit, so it’s actually for Burt Reynolds marathons like the one airing here on the network this Father’s Day. What a better way to spend a Sunday, than BBQing and partaking in some of the deeper Reynolds cuts. As a primer for the marathon, let’s explore the man, the myth: the Reynolds.
Burt Reynolds is awesome. Debatably, he’s a certain generation’s Steve McQueen. He notoriously can be difficult to work with and has a reputation for his bluntness. There are few people in the world that can conjure the same mystique that Reynolds’ reputation seems to carry. In fact, short of Bill Murray or David Hasselhoff, I’m hard-pressed to think of an actor from the 70’s and 80’s who can hold a candle to the notoriety of the Reynolds persona.
While we could never forget his memorable turn as the Bandit or his ragtag team of fellow inmates in The Longest Yard, did you know that he was once a part-owner of a USFL pro-football team based out of Tampa Bay? Or that he once was offered the role of James Bond and turned it down? Reynolds has had quite a few memorable off-screen moments that have heightened his own folklore.
Here are just a few of note:
Ask Me What I Am
Let’s start with Burt Reynolds’ turn as a musician. Before Bruce Willis became Bruno, before Eddie Murphy reminded us that his girl liked to Party All the Time, Reynolds tried his hand at the 1970’s country cowboy music craze. “Flying kites. Pillow fights. Lay me down to sleep nights,” kicks off the auto-biographical 1973 musical album. A nostalgic beat poem about his childhood followed by a spoken word story of getting into trouble and learning lessons. Serenading the woman to whom he eventually would lose his virginity. Settling down and realizing he can’t shake the world and coming to grips with his mortality. Interestingly enough, his memoir is almost a response to this album entitled, “But Enough About Me.” You can pick up the full album for a few bucks on vinyl. Or give it a listen on YouTube as you read the rest of this article.
My memories of Cannonball Runas a film are few and far between. It’s been quite a while since I’ve watched the film from start to finish. But my memory of the blooper/gag reel, which ran alongside the end credits, is absolutely as crystal clear as recalling my ABCs. Frequently I still refer to necklaces as “bleeds” to blank stares from those not as familiar with the reel. The blooper reel was and still is notorious. Reynolds particularly wasn’t a fan of the film. And there was a slew of production issues that plagued the film behind the scenes. But watching this gag reel gives the illusion that Cannonballwas one of the most entertaining film sets. Even if there are undercurrents of frustration between Reynolds and Dom DeLuise accentuated by over-foley sound effect slaps.
I Double Dare You To Hit Me
One of the Burt Reynolds moments that has vexed me for years is his fight with Marc Summers on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in October of 1994. Was it staged? Was it real? Truth be told, it’s a little suspect that the stagehands had banana cream pies at the ready. Summers recollected the event in 2017suggesting that it was all unplanned, and a result of Reynolds being in a funk from his book tour and divorce. Was there bad blood between the two of them that boiled over in front of a live audience? Or was it the result of two large personalities colliding? Upon rewatching, it seems as if Reynolds is standoffish toward Summers right from the start. Be the judge yourself and watch the tale of the tape below.
The Bandit Special Edition Trans Am
Unveiled at the 2016 New York Auto Show, The Bandit’s famous Trans Am made a brief and very limited comeback just in time for Smokey and the Bandit’s 30th Anniversary. Only 77 of the special edition cars were made, each of them signature editions featuring Reynolds’ John Hancock on the dash. But the return of the Black Trans Am is not what’s notable. No, that’s reserved for the amazing featurette created to announce the cars by builder Trans Am Depot. Reynolds growls and grunts at the top of the short promo piece which unveils the car in several sexy beauty shots. The co-founders and builders of SE Trans Am speak from the heart. While Reynolds’ poetic soundbites almost sound like they’re from an interview completed for something unrelated. Quipping things like, “Well, you got it. Whether you want it or not.” And lamenting how much trouble he got in because he was, “a little more than frisky.” The last thirty seconds are trademark Burt Reynolds. They’re not to be missed.
Behind the Wheel of Another Classic Movie Car
Reynolds might be most identifiably coupled with his 1977 Pontiac Trans Am from Smokey and the Bandit. But in 1987, the film Malone(airing during the Father’s Day marathon here on CHARGE!, which I personally am excited to watch) an attempt was made to marry Reynolds with another classic: a 1969 Ford Mustang. In the opening sequence of the film, Reynolds’ character is fleeing from his old life in the classic car. He eventually runs out of fuel and is forced to push it in to a refueling station. And, while the car didn’t have the same effect on Reynolds fans as the Trans Am did, it certainly made a mark elsewhere in film history, being the car of choice for Keanu Reeves’ John Wick, Ice Cube in xXx: Return of Xander Cage, John Cusack and Thomas Jane in Drive Hard, and almost every notable television show of the 1970s.
Of course, this moment isn’t actually Reynolds himself, but the heightened caricature developed by Norm MacDonald. In 1999’s Saturday Night Live parody of Celebrity Jeopardy, MacDonald returned to cameo on the show that had infamously let him go. MacDonald enhanced Reynolds’ quirks like his penchant for smacking on gum, talking tersely and irreverently, and forever engrained the nonsensical name Turd Ferguson into all our pop culture brains. It was one of the few impressions that MacDonald performed while on SNL. In fact, according to MacDonald in a Howard Stern interview, he created the Celebrity Jeopardy sketch three years earlier, just to get his impression of Reynolds on the air.
EDGE OF TOMORROW
"The Enhanced Body"
Written for Warner Bros. Pictures - Freelance
AN EXO-SUIT FOR AN ENHANCED BODY
Augmentation to Fashion Superhumans
Mankind has continuously seemed to have a fascination with the enhancement of their physical form to give them heightened abilities. Shoes that promise you’ll run faster and jump higher. Energy drinks that promise to give you a boost in agility for an extra five hours. Science fiction has latched onto this notion and taken the desire to be better to the next level: making a Six Million Dollar Man, giving Ellen Ripley a Power Loader to combat Aliens, and building the mammoth jaegers to fight in Pacific Rim.
In the upcoming Tom Cruise film Edge of Tomorrow, the next level of this concept is revealed. Soldiers in the film are fitted with cybernetic Exosuits that they have nicknamed “jacket technology.” These suits give human soldiers the edge over their alien opponents by allowing them to punch harder, jump higher, and have the firepower of a heavy artillery vehicle literally strapped to their back.
The suits are brutal, dangerous, and make the soldiers of Tomorrow absolutely deadly.
THE STRENGTH OF TEN
“This isn’t CGI. The audience feels the weight of these machines.”
- Tom Cruise
“You don’t wear the Exosuit, the Exosuit wears you.”
- Bill Paxton
The Exosuits in Edge of Tomorrow thrust soldiers into battle quite literally. The mechanized and armored suits provide stability and protection for falls from great heights, allowing paratroopers to drop into combat without the aide of a parachute. Once they’re on the battleground, soldiers within this “jacket technology” are armored from the enemy’s weaponry and from melee attack. They can sprint at an increased rate and leap like Superman to have the mobility and dexterity of the quickest of combatants. This increased physicality is ironic as the real-life suits worn by the actors on set were actually incredibly heavy. Since battles within the suits would be so physically demanding, they couldn’t be made from lighter weight plastic materials because there could be zero fragility to their design. They had to be hardened and tough and ready to undergo strenuous filming scenarios.
In order to move gracefully in her heavy suit, Emily Blunt employed a wide variety of tactics to strengthen her body. “I did gymnastics, yoga, weight training and a lot with a weight vest on, just to feel what it would be like to run with the suit,” says Blunt. To Blunt, the extra effort was worth it for her performance, “I think you can always tell when something’s created with CGI, and I think this action looks so real because it was. We were doing it.”
“You become a human bulldozer with machine guns.”
- Bill Paxton
“You start to really enjoy the power of the suit.”
- Emily Blunt
In Edge of Tomorrow there are three very distinct types of Exosuits that the humans utilize to fight the enemy, each with very specific roles on the battlefield.
Comprising the majority of the army are grunts, the infantry that marches en masse to complete the mission parameters. Fitted with basic Exosuits, grunts have a common machine gun strapped to one arm and a grenade launcher on the other. Grunts have the purpose to fight more as a group, rather than an army of one.
Where the grunts lack firepower to cut down a path, tanks pack quite a punch. Heavily armored to protect the soldier inside, a tank only has one primary weapon: a large electromagnetic railgun strapped onto the back. Tanks are the big guns on the field but because of their cumbersome nature don’t have the same mobility as a grunt.
Rounding out the Exosuits are the dogs. If grunts and tanks comprise the rest of the army, the dogs are their Green Beret-like special forces. Taking the railgun technology from the tanks and strapping two miniaturized versions of them to each shoulder, the Dog suits are ready to make the enemy hurt. The guns are affixed to the dogs’ backs in an “angel-wing” configuration, butterflying up and out to either side of their shoulders. The guns also swivel to allow them fire around a full 360 degrees of their location. Their suits are fast, agile, and a genuine threat to anyone that dares face them.
BUILT FOR BATTLE
“Building the Exosuits alone took four to five months.”
- Doug Liman, Director
It was incredibly important to Edge of Tomorrow director Doug Liman that the film remain grounded and that the Exosuits be closer to science fact rather than science fiction. Bringing them to life would take an elaborate collaboration between the costume department, props, and stunt department of the film.
Conceptually, the Exosuits were inspired by real technology being explored for the near-distant future. “Our Exosuits take cues from actual developments that the military is doing,” says Production Designer Oliver Scholl. “In developing these exoskeletons, we’re going back to more traditional forms and shapes that convey real mechanics and hydraulics, rather than slick engineering.” For that reason, the suits had to be functional. Every one of the 650 components in each Exosuit had to move fluidly and with purpose. To assemble over a hundred real Exosuits for filming, the production had to build their own factory at the Leavesden Studios headed by Exosuit modeller Pierre Bohanna. “At their peak, the team was producing over 650 castings of components a day,” says Bohanna of the massive team that worked around the clock to make sure each soldier had an Exosuit.
“The Exosuit has been something we’re all incredibly proud of,” says Costume Designer Kate Hawley. “It’s such a complicated process, and I have to say so much goes to Pierre and his engineers for making that work.”