The Man Who Played Banjo in Deliverance

Deliverance was released in 1972 with banjos being an important element. One particularly memorable scene features Ronny Cox and Drew being challenged to a banjo duel by an outsider; this scene stood out amongst all others throughout the movie.

The young boy playing the banjo in this film was actually from Rabun County, Georgia, and regularly gave Deliverance tours as a source of income. Additionally, he appeared in 1984’s Blastfighter film.

Billy Redden

Many are familiar with the 1972 movie Deliverance, starring Ronny Cox and Jon Voight, due to its famous scene featuring a mentally challenged teenage boy playing banjo that became part of popular culture. But not many realize that Billy Redden (a local from Rabun County in northeast Georgia) who plays this part was actually just 15 at the time of filming!

The actor was chosen because of their natural talent in playing banjo and ability to capture the character’s unwitting, inbred look using makeup techniques. Although incredibly popular among viewers of the movie, they did not receive much money from it or any residual income; thus leading to a campaign aiming at rectifying that injustice.

Lance Frantzich of Los Angeles-based storyteller group The Storytellers has established a GoFundMe page for actor James Redden. According to Frantzich’s account, Redden has fallen on hard times and needs help paying his medical bills; already the campaign has raised over $10,000 and appears close to its goal.

Not much is known about what happened to this actor after appearing in Deliverance, though he appears in two more movies by Lamberto Bava and Tim Burton: Blastfighter (1984) and Big Fish (2003) respectively. Additionally, he can be seen in Outrage: Born In Terror (2009).

He only appeared briefly in the film, yet has become an iconic cult figure among banjo enthusiasts. He still regularly makes appearances with his banjo at festivals and events across America.

Redden made three additional movie appearances following his breakout role in Deliverance; however, his acting career proved short. Instead of working full-time as an actor he provided tours of filming locations and worked at a cafe to support himself; additionally he played banjo in two additional movies: Blastfighter and Outrage: Born In Terror.

Ronny Cox

Deliverance’s “Dueling Banjos” scene is one of the most iconic in cinematic history. Both its song, originally composed in 1954, and film have become immensely popular; many don’t realize, however, that the man playing banjo in both was actually an actual backwoods boy from north Georgia!

Billy Redden of Rabun County was chosen by John Boorman specifically because of his “backwoods look”. Additionally, Billy was an adept musician, playing both guitar and singing.

Redden quickly rose to fame following the release of his movie in Clayton, GA, making many guest appearances on television shows and appearing as a lead role in a short-lived family drama. He even performed with a band at theaters and folk music festivals before eventually landing a role on St. Elsewhere and continuing acting career by appearing in Beverly Hills Cop I and II films.

Cox was successful as an actor but still desired a musical career. After experimenting with acoustic instruments, his musical career quickly blossomed: signed to a record label, released his self-titled album; however, public perception caused his music career to fizzle out when they perceived him simply as another actor trying his luck at music.

In 2003, he made an appearance in Tim Burton’s Big Fish as the “Banjo Man.” Since then he has made appearances in multiple television movies and miniseries as well as playing banjo at concerts around the country.

Recently, it came to light that the real-life banjo player who played Billy in Deliverance has fallen into debt and needs help getting back on his feet financially. Lance Frantzich of The Storytellers in Los Angeles created a GoFundMe campaign in his support, raising over $6,000 from over 500 donors since its start.

Burt Reynolds

Burt Reynolds enjoyed an acclaimed stage career that paralleled his prolific film work. From starring roles to being nominated three times for an Academy Award as Best Actor (Deliverance (1972 being his breakthrough role).

Following the success of his film debut, Reynolds went on to star in numerous other movies such as Navajo Joe, 100 Rifles, Sam Whiskey and White Lightning. Additionally, he enjoyed an extended run in television sitcom Evening Shade (1990-94) as Woodward “Woody” Newton.

Reynolds made his acting debut at Palm Beach Junior College (now Palm Beach State College). After earning the Florida State Drama Award, he moved to New York and worked as a musical theater performer until 1956, when he won an acting part in Team and Sympathy’s Broadway production.

Warner Bros. approached Weissberg in 1972 with a request to record a banjo track for Jon Voight, Ned Beatty, and Ronny Cox’s movie Deliverance starring Jon Voight, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox. Weissberg agreed and recorded his cover of Arthur Smith’s 1954 song “Fuedin’ Banjos”, making its way into Deliverance as one of its signature scenes with Cox dueting with local backwoods boy Lonnie; Steve Mandell played his arrangement while Weissberg produced and engineered his track recording session.

Reynolds quickly took to the banjo and gained inspiration from legendary players such as Jerry Douglas. He managed to capture its essence while developing a signature style. Furthermore, he learned music theory and wrote songs.

Redden made his acting debut in Deliverance and quickly gained fame, inspiring many banjo players. Before his passing away in 2014, Redden lived quietly at home in Rabun County, Georgia; nevertheless he remains popular among Deliverance fans and is active within the banjo community; having made appearances at conventions as well as playing for fans directly.

John Boorman

John Boorman is a distinguished director whose career spans five decades. During that time he has directed over fifty feature films – such as Point Blank, Hell in the Pacific, Deliverance, Zardoz and Excalibur – working with notable actors like Lee Marvin, Toshiro Mifune and Marcello Mastroianni; in addition to TV programs and stage plays.

He is best-known for directing the 1972 movie Deliverance, featuring Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty, and Jon Voight in its unforgettable rural Georgia setting and iconic scene where one character beats another with a whip. Deliverance remains one of cinema history’s most influential works and has received multiple awards and nominations over its four decade of release.

The movie was shot along the wild and rugged Dan River in Rabun County, Georgia, using local residents as actors for many key roles in the production. To capture its true essence, production team made multiple trips to Rabun County to get acquainted with its atmosphere; actors even got to spend time with residents to understand their customs better.

Billy Redden was cast as 15-year-old Billy in the iconic dueling banjos scene from “Tin Men.” His large head, skinny frame and unusual eyes made him an ideal candidate. Although Billy had no knowledge of playing banjo, his director believed he could pass for someone from backwoods America – wearing special clothing to disguise arms while filming was done using carefully chosen camera angles; music for this scene was provided by professional player using different technique than was shown on screen.

Redden soon went on to appear in several more films after Deliverance was released, but his acting career wasn’t particularly fruitful. Instead, he became a guide for tours along the river where Deliverance was shot, as well as appearing in a documentary about Rabun County where he hails from. Recently however, Redden has been struggling financially due to medical bills and debts; thus leading a group of bluegrass musicians to launch a GoFundMe campaign on his behalf.