Rabun County, Georgia resident Billy Redden was 15 when he was discovered at a casting call in Clayton, Georgia and offered the part of the inbred banjo-playing boy in the 1972 Burt Reynolds sodomy classic Deliverance. You might think being known as the guy who played an inbred, Yankee-fear-of-hillbillies personified (with make-up to accentuate his unusual features) might make for a rough patch of teen years (like dubious fame did for, say, Jake Lloyd). I always wonder how awkward the casting process is for characters whose function it is to look weird and get ridiculed by other characters.
But to hear Redden tell it in a video interview from last year (below), it didn’t make no never mind.
INTERVIEWER: How’d that change your life, that scene?
REDDEN: It didn’t make no difference.
In the interview, Redden says he “works maintenance at Wal-Mart, pickin up trash and that kinda stuff.”
Redden’s IMDB profile says that for a time Redden gave “Deliverance Tours” along the Georgia river where the film was shot. After Deliverance, Redden didn’t appear in another movie until Tim Burton’s Big Fish. Burton located Redden working in the Cookie Jar Cafe in Clayton, Georgia. Since then, Redden had a bit part on Blue Collar TV as an inbred car mechanic who played the banjo.
Redden wasn’t a fan of Reynolds: “Burt didn’t want to say nothing to nobody,” Redden told The New Yorker years later. “He wasn’t polite. And he made us look real bad–he said on television that all people in Rabun County do is watch cars go by and spit.” [BoingBoing]
Yes, how dare Burt Reynolds stereotype you, guy who works at Walmart.