EXCLUSIVE: Burt Reynolds Talks Dark Period After Sally Field Breakup and Combating AIDS Rumors

by Zach Seemayer 6:51 AM PST, November 17, 2015
Playing EXCLUSIVE: Burt Reynolds Talks Dark Period After Sally Field Breakup and Combating AIDS Rumors

In his day, Burt Reynolds was one of the biggest actors in Hollywood and had a reputation as a ladies' man, linked with quite a few stars -- including his Smokey and the Bandit co-star, Sally Field.

In Reynolds' new memoir, But Enough About Me, the 79-year-old star reveals that he still misses Field, adding that she was "the love of my life."

ET's Brooke Anderson sat down with Reynolds, where he opened up about his feelings for the 69-year-old two-time Oscar winner.

WATCH: Burt Reynolds Says That Women Cost Him the Most, Still Misses Ex Sally Field 'Terribly'

"I do miss her. I think she was one of the most underrated actresses, you know?" he shared. "She was the best actress I ever worked with."

The decade after Reynolds and Field split was a dark one for the star. In the '80s, rumors swirled that Reynolds was "dying of AIDS" after he lost a significant amount of weight in a short period of time. 

According to Reynold's memoir, the weight loss was caused by an addiction to prescription pain killers, which he developed after a jaw injury. However, as rumors that he was dying gained traction, the actor said he could only think of one way to combat the speculation.

"I just kept working," Reynolds recounted. "I thought the only way to make these rumors go away is to keep working... it really was an awful period."

WATCH: Burt Reynolds Looks Strikingly Frail While Attending His First Comic Con

In 1988, Reynolds' darkness seemed to ebb when he married actress Loni Anderson. However, their relationship quickly fell apart and they divorced after five years.

According to Reynolds, the biggest challenge in their relationship was that "she liked to spend money."

"I really couldn't afford her," Reynolds said, adding that his marriage to Anderson cost him "everything I had."

Now, with the release of his memoir, Reynolds is looking back over his life and taking stock of what he hopes to leave behind.

WATCH: Burt Reynolds' Ex-Wife Reveals Why She's Selling Everything He Gave Her

When it comes to his legacy, the consummate professional knows exactly what he wants people to remember about him: "He worked hard, he was always on time and knew his lines, and he tried really hard to be a good guy."

Watch Reynold’s full sit-down interview with Entertainment Tonight on Tuesday. Check here for local listings.

Reynold's new book, But Enough About Me, comes out Nov. 17.