I never write an article from the first person. Today however, I make an exception. Growing up in the 1980s, my heroes were Sally Field, Kris Kristofferson, Ernest Borgnine and Burt Reynolds. Today, we lost one of those, my first acting inspiration, the genius that was Mr Burt Reynolds.

Burt was the original jock, a man who could have played professional football, only a knee injury keeping him away from glory. He spent years working in restaurants while playing the odd theatre and TV role, before being spotted and taken on board for recurring roles in series such as Gunsmoke and Hawk.

He was an actor who personified the confidence and comedic appeal of everything people wanted during my former years. A genius who could switch between the silliness of Cannonball Run and the horror of Deliverance, the coolness of Smokey and the Bandit to the pathos of Hooper. Don’t forget he was the top grossing Hollywood star from 1978 to 1982. While on holiday in Skegness, I played with Matchbox cars and Burt was always the hero in the Trans Am, while cheaper cars played Branford, Junior and Little and Big Enos.

In the late 80s and early 90s, he struggled to get a decent role, until 1997, when he received an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Jack Horner in Boogie Nights. Also, let’s not forget he turned down the role of Han Solo in Star Wars and John McClane in Die Hard.

Having spent many years with poor health, he was about to star in Tarantino’s next movie, Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, until his untimely death yesterday.

Burt Reynolds was more than an actor, he was an icon. He was everything that a young boy in the 80s looked up to. His smile, along with his films, will always be with us.

By Colin Lomas

I first watched The Company of Wolves at the age of 8. It gave me a lifelong love of the cinema and an utter terror of everything else.