Burt Reynolds: A star who struggled with drugs, a broken marriage, and separation from his beloved son
The actor's addiction to painkillers started in 1984 when a goofed-up stunt scene left him with a broken jaw during the shooting of City Heat.
Burt Reynolds, the richest and biggest movie star in the world in the early 1980s, saw one of the darkest periods of his life right after he started shooting for the movie City Heat in 1984 with Clint Eastwood. The subsequent years saw him separating from his then-wife Loni Anderson and losing the custody of his beloved son Quinton. The actor's struggle with drugs and the subsequent downward spiral is well known, however, the main cause of his addiction is rarely focused upon. His battle with painkillers began with a fight scene on the first day of City Heat's shooting, when he met with an accident.
During a fight scene in the movie, the man opposite him was supposed to use a prop chair to hit Reynolds' head, however, he accidentally picked up a steel chair instead and smacked the actor on the head, leaving him with a broken jaw. The actor, in a 2012 interview with Piers Morgan, revealed that the accident was when his struggle with drugs began. At first, he took the painkillers to relieve the constant pain, and gradually it became a habit.
Unbeknownst of his own problem at the time, Reynolds, who had begun dating a young, blonde bombshell, actress Loni Anderson, married her in a hushed ceremony. The actors after attempting to conceive eventually decided to adopt and brought home a son whom they named Quinton. Reynolds, in the interview, said that he loved his son with all his life and constantly reminded him of his affection — something the actor could not get from his own father.
However, a few years down the line, the cocktail of painkillers Reynolds had been taking began affecting his professional and personal life. His behavior had reportedly become erratic, he would get enraged too soon, and some began calling him a "diva" in the acting world. Reynolds, by this time, was hooked to painkillers. He reportedly became something of a recluse and saw a dark time in his professional life, with his films no longer working at the box office.
Reynolds' married life also began unraveling with reports of infidelity on both sides. The couple's separation became public and ugly when Reynolds went on 'Good Morning America: Evening Edition', and publicly revealed intimate details of his married life, saying that he and Anderson did not have sex anymore. He even challenged his wife on television for a lie detector test, claiming if she dared to take the test, her alleged multiple affairs would be outed. The actor accused Anderson of cheating on him, claiming he had witnessed it. However, at this time, Reynolds was also seeing someone, but he claims this was after he became aware of his wife's cheating.
After a very public and dramatic divorce filing, Reynolds was left in shambles because the one person he cherished the most — his son Quinton — was ordered to live with his mother. This was a huge blow to the star.
Reynolds', after his loss, relied heavily on pain killers he had been taking in dangerous amounts. "I lost everything. The drugs should have killed me," he said.
During the interview, he recalled an incident when he decided to get his act straight. One day, he looked at himself in the mirror and asked: "Is this the kind of father you want your son to remember you as?" and that very day abandoned all the drugs. "My son was the best movie I ever made," the actor added.
Reelz 'Burt Reynolds: Life Stories with Piers Morgan' premiered Tuesday on September 3.