As I watched Bert Reynolds being interviewed about his memoir But Enough About Me by Steve Colbert on The Late Show, I had to reflect on the interview that I didn’t get with him. A WIS-TV news photographer and I had driven from Columbia, South Carolina, home of WIS-TV, to Tallulah Gorge on the Chattooga River in North Georgia and Western South Carolina to do a TV news feature on the movie “Deliverance.”
James Dickey, author of the novel and co-author of the screenplay for the movie, and I had become friends following a 30-minute TV interview I did with him in Columbia. He was Poet in Residence at the University of South Carolina. I told him I wanted to do a piece on the movie, and he said he’d set it up for me and I could interview the stars, etc.
When we arrived we were met by the director James Boorman. He told me it wouldn’t be possible to interview Reynolds because he was down on the river filming some action scenes and that the terrain was too rugged and it would take too much time for us to get to where they were shooting. I had no intention of leaving empty-handed after that long drive from Columbia, so I asked him for an interview. He said something like, “Oh, you don’t want to interview me. The public doesn’t know me. How about Jon Voight? He’s here.” Of course I would want to interview Jon Voight. He was as big a star as Reynolds as far as I was concerned.
Voight wasn’t so sure that he wanted to do an interview with me. I told him, “Well, all right. But, we drove all the way from Columbia to do this. James Dickey told me that I could get interviews if I came. I guess we can just go back without anything.”
“Oh, all right, Dick. Don’t get down on your knees,” he said with a smile. After the interview, which went very well, he told me why he was reluctant at first to do it. He said he knew that Bert Reynolds was great at ad libbing on TV talk shows like The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and he wasn’t sure he could compare well with him. I told him the interview was quite good and that I was glad to meet him because I had just seen him in Midnight Cowboy and thought his performance was outstanding. He had a Texas accent in the movie. I told him he did that accent very well and asked where he grew up. He thanked me and said he grew up in New York.
As far as the director was concerned, if I had known then what I know now about the fist fight he had gotten into with Dickey over the screenplay, I would have pushed harder for an interview. Wikipedia says they made up and became good friends. It also says Boorman was co-author of the screenplay but wasn’t credited.