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 one of the principal actors. Although the film was critically acclaimed and was nominated for awards in several categories, it ultimately did not win any.
Redden was born in Rabun County, Georgia. At the age of 15, he was selected for a role in Deliverance during a casting call at Clayton Elementary School in Clayton, Georgia. The filmmakers chose Redden for the banjo boy, described as inbred and intellectually disabled in the novel on which the movie was based. Redden does not suffer from either condition; his distinctive look was enhanced using special makeup.
Redden plays the instrumental “Dueling Banjos” opposite actor Ronny Cox on guitar. The scene is noted for foreshadowing the film’s theme: exploring unknown and potentially dangerous territory. Redden did not play the banjo. A local musician, Mike Addis, reached around from behind Redden; his playing was disguised using careful camera angles.
This is the actual scene where Lonnie the in-bred banjo boy, has a dual with Drew (Ronny Cox) on his Banjo, famously known as “The Dueling Banjo’s”.