Christopher Atkins was a high school senior with no acting experience when he landed the role as the shipwrecked teenage heartthrob Richard in "The Blue Lagoon." The 1980s classic turned him into an overnight star, and in this clip from "Oprah: Where Are They Now?" he talks about the highs and lows of overnight fame.
"I didn't know anything about movies, and I was just one of these kids in this huge, huge long line," Atkins says about his "Blue Lagoon" audition. After landing the part opposite a young Brooke Shields, he says the cast was swept off to film in Fiji.
"The conditions during the filming were very rustic," Atkins recalls. "When we got there, there was no water on the island and there was really no place to live."
Aktins says they spent the first two weeks living on a boat and getting into character. "I was 18 and Brooke Shields was 14, and the director wanted us to be attracted to each other," he says. "He stuck a picture of her over my bunk on the boat when I was first there so I could start becoming attracted to her. He said it will come out in your eyes, it will come out in real time on film.
"Brooke and I had a little bit of a romantic, innocent sort of romance in the very beginning of the film," Atkins says. "It was very nice -- we were very, very close friends, put it that way."
After the film debuted, Atkins says he couldn't go anywhere without being mobbed by fans. "I mean, my hair was pulled, my shirt was ripped -- it was the last thing I would have ever in a million years thought that my life path would have gone."
Though fame opened many new doors, Atkins learned they could close just as quickly. "I did have the lead role in 'Footloose,'" he says. "I was in the middle of my partying days and I got called in to go meet on the movie, to meet everybody, and I went in and acted like an idiot. [Laughs] And they just kind of scratched their heads, and they didn't want to deal with a mess like that. And I lost the role."
"And of course, that role set Kevin Bacon off -- which I'm glad, because Kevin Bacon's a phenomenal actor I'd love to work with someday," Atkins says. "But at the same time, that could have been my next 'Lagoon' type of movie, which would have been fantastic for me."
"Oprah: Where Are They Now?" airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on OWN.