In the new issue of Closer Weekly, on stands now, Burt Reynolds shares a behind-the-scenes secret from 1977’s Smokey and the Bandit.

Burt tells Closer he wanted Sally Field to be his leading lady in the movie, but the studio initially said no.

“I was told she was not sexy — she was the Flying Nun,” Burt recalls exclusively to Closer. “I told them, ‘Trust me, talent is sexy. She is talented and sexy.’”

He was right, of course. Fueled by Burt and Sally’s chemistry, the car-chase comedy raced to the top of the box office when it was released in May 1977 — topping Star Wars!

Forty years later, it remains a beloved favorite among fans, with anniversary screenings taking place nationwide.

“It stands the test of time — it’s a funny picture,” Burt tells Closer, and he gives much of the credit for the film’s success to his co-star: “I fell in like with Sally.”