Billy Redden (born 1956) is an American actor, best known for his role as a backwoods, mountain boy in the 1972 film Deliverance. He played Lonnie, a banjo-playing teenager of the country in north Georgia, who played the noted "Dueling Banjos" with Drew Ballinger (Ronny Cox). The film was critically acclaimed and received nominations for awards in several categories.
At the age of 16, he was selected for a role in Deliverance from his school in Georgia by the director John Boorman to portray a banjo-playing "local" during the film's famous "dueling banjos" scene. Boorman felt that Redden's skinny frame and large head, and almond shaped eyes made him the natural choice to play the part of an "inbred from the back woods." Because Redden could not play a banjo, he wore a special shirt which allowed a real banjo player to hide behind him for the scene, which was shot with carefully chosen camera angles that would conceal the player, whose arms were slipped around Redden's waist to play the tune.
Redden next appeared in Tim Burton's 2003 film Big Fish. Burton was intent on getting Redden, as he wanted him to play (really?) the role of a banjo-playing "welcomer" in the utopian town of Spectre. Burton located Redden in Clayton, Georgia, where he was part-owner of the Cookie Jar Café, and also worked as a cook and dishwasher.
In 2004, Redden made a guest appearance on Blue Collar TV, playing a car repairman named Ray in a "Redneck Dictionary" skit. He represented the word "raisin bread" (as in "Ray's inbred"). He played a banjo in the skit.
In 2009, Redden played again his usual role (The banjo man) in Ace Cruz's film Outrage: Born in Terror.
In 2012, 40 years after the release of Deliverance, Redden was interviewed in association with a documentary, The Deliverance of Rabun County (2012). It explored the feelings of people in Rabun County four decades later about the 1972 film. Redden said that though Deliverance was the best thing that happened to him, he never saw much money from the movie:
|“||I'd like to have all the money I thought I'd make from this movie. I wouldn't be working at Walmart right now. And I'm struggling really hard to make ends meet.||”|
Noting some locals objected to the stereotypes in the movie, Redden said that the people in Rabun County were good people:
|“||We're not a bad people up here, we're a loving people. Rabun County is a pretty good town. It's peaceful, not a lot of crime going on, just a real peaceful town. Everybody pretty much gets along with everybody.||”|
- Deliverance (1972) - Lonnie
- Blastfighter (1984) - Banjo Man (uncredited)
- Big Fish (2003) - Banjo Man
- Outrage (2009) - Banjo Man (final film role)
- Potempa, Philip (October 19, 2008). "Burt Reynolds and 'Deliverance' boy reunited ". The Times of Northwest Indiana.
- Welles, Cory (August 22, 2012). "40 Years Later, Deliverance Causes Mixed Feelings in Georgia". Marketplace. American Public Media.
- Billy Redden on IMDb
- Blake Spurney (News Editor) (October 7, 2004). "Another celebrity appearance for Rabun star (Archived 27 Dec 2004)". Archived from the original on December 27, 2004.