EXCLUSIVE: Burt Reynolds Regrets Iconic 1972 Nude Centerfold: 'I Was Very Young and Very Stupid'

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More than four decades later, Burt Reynolds is speaking out about why his infamous naked Cosmopolitan photoshoot is "one of the biggest mistakes" of his life.

"I regret doing it. I wish I hadn't," the 79-year-old actor told ET of the 1972 centerfold. "It was a long time ago. I was very young and very stupid and it did not change my career to the better."

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The iconic photo shows Reynolds reclining on a bearskin rug completely nude with only his left wrist, tucked between his legs, blocking his privates.

Along with the sheer embarrassment surrounding the image, the two-time Golden Globe winner said that he felt the photo also hurt his chances at winning an Oscar following the release of the 1972 classic thriller Deliverance. Reynolds blames the pic for his performance, as well as those of co-stars Jon Voight and Ned Beatty, being overshadowed.

"Definitely all of us had a chance if I hadn't done something stupid like that," Reynolds said.

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So why did he do it in the first place? Reynolds admitted it took many drinks to get him to agree to pose in that position.

"It was a cold day I regret to say," he said. "I sent out for some booze and had a few more vodka and tonics and eventually I thought it was just swell. I was having just a swell time."

That photo was just one setback in his storied career that has included countless highs and lows. While he was once one of Hollywood's highest-paid stars, the legendary actor has been plagued by bankruptcy rumors, which he says are not true, and his love life has frequently been the topic of tabloid fodder.

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Reynolds has been married twice (he split from Judy Carne in 1965 and divorced Loni Anderson in 1994), and he recently said that Sally Field, who he dated in the '70s before breaking up in the '80s, is the "love of [his] life," even though they haven't been together for decades.

Now, he has a new woman in his life, Rhonda Stearns, who Reynolds admitted is "a lot younger." Reynolds met Stearns in an acting class he teaches in Florida.

"She was one of my students," Reynolds said. "She's just a great gal -- a lot of fun, not in the business."

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But, when asked if he would ever get married again, Reynolds gave a definitive, "No."

His new book But Enough About Me: A Memoir is available now.