Macon County canoe expert remembers working on movie with Burt Reynolds

Macon County canoeing expert Doug Woodward helped tell a tale of "Deliverance." It was one of the blockbuster hits of 1972, a backwoods thriller filmed along the Chattooga River. One of the main characters was an up-and-coming star named Burt Reynolds. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

The entertainment world and so many fans are still mourning the loss of a great one ... Burt Reynolds, who died of a heart attack Thursday at the age of 82.

Reynolds' claim to fame started with a terrifying vacation story filmed in north Georgia.

A Macon County canoeing expert helped tell a tale of "Deliverance." It was one of the blockbuster hits of 1972, a backwoods thriller filmed along the Chattooga River.

One of the main characters was played by an up-and-coming star named Burt Reynolds.

Doug Woodward's not a screen actor, but played a key role in "Deliverance." He was a technical adviser and stunt double in the summer of 1971 on what was a demanding movie.

"We did work hard for two weeks in some of the roughest rapids on the Chattooga," Woodward said.

"There's Reynolds," he said, pointing to a photo from the time.

Woodward's also a camera buff, who took plenty of his own shots of the action and the actors. He has quite a few shots of Reynolds, some between takes, including one of a lunch break along the banks of the Chattooga.

Woodward said Reynolds didn't spend a lot of time with the crew.

"He tended to keep to himself, or perhaps to the women that always followed him around," Woodward said with a laugh.

And with his 8mm camera, Woodward captured some rare home movies, including evidence of one of those female fans looking on.

He also has proof that Reynolds did his own stunts, including shots of the scene where Reynolds' character was catapulted from a canoe.

And there is a shot of Woodward in the bow of one of the canoes, paddling as a stunt double for actor Ned Beatty.

Woodward even did some of what real actors have to do--sit with a makeup artist.

It all happened in the summer of '71, now a fond memory of a movie and a brush with Burt Reynolds.

"I wouldn't say that we ever had a friendship that you would speak of, but certainly that association for a period of our lives, why, was something to be remembered," Woodward said.

Asheville Pizza and Brewing is honoring Reynolds next week with a special one-time screening of "Smokey and the Bandit" at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

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