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Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins | Source: Getty Images
Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins | Source: Getty Images

What Happened to Christopher Atkins, 44 Years after 'The Blue Lagoon'

Milla Sigaba
Jun 11, 2024
10:35 A.M.
  • Christopher Atkins shot to fame with his breakout role in "The Blue Lagoon."
  • Following his rise to stardom, the actor faced significant personal and financial challenges.
  • Today, Christopher Atkins shares glimpses of his life on social media, receiving praise from fans for looking good at 63.
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Christopher Atkins during the filming of "The Blue Lagoon," circa 1980. | Source: Getty Images

Christopher Atkins during the filming of "The Blue Lagoon," circa 1980. | Source: Getty Images

Christopher Atkins rose to fame for his role as Richard Lestrange in "The Blue Lagoon," co-starring Brooke Shields. However, the money problems the actor faced at the peak of his career were soon followed by alcohol addiction. The young star also grappled with feelings of jealousy toward Brooke Shields' continued success.

Despite these hurdles, Christopher Atkins has celebrated over two decades of sobriety. Today, the former actor gives his followers a look at his life away from Hollywood, with fans remarking that he looks even better now than he did as a teenage star.

Christopher Atkins, circa 1980. | Source: Getty Images

Christopher Atkins, circa 1980. | Source: Getty Images

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Christopher Atkins' Rise to Fame

Growing up in Rye, New York, Atkins initially harbored dreams of becoming a professional baseball player. However, his dreams were cut short by a degenerative cartilage condition.

The condition, known as chondromalacia, led to the teenager undergoing many knee surgeries. With his baseball career sidelined, Atkins found success modeling. He posed for Seventeen magazine and Gloria Vanderbilt jeans. "Those were some happy days," Atkins reminisced, reflecting on his early modeling career.

18-year-old Christopher Atkins, circa 1979. | Source: Getty Images

18-year-old Christopher Atkins, circa 1979. | Source: Getty Images

However, the future young star was working as a sailing instructor when the director of "The Blue Lagoon," Randal Kleiser, discovered him. "He had never acted before," Kleiser recalled. Despite this, Kleiser saw potential in the young man's natural charisma and rugged good looks, qualities perfect for the role.

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So, at just 18 years old, Atkins landed one of the lead roles, beating out 4,000 other hopefuls. Filming "The Blue Lagoon" took Atkins and Shields to the picturesque Turtle Island in Fiji, where they spent three months shooting the movie.

Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins in New York, circa 1980. | Source: Getty Images

Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins in New York, circa 1980. | Source: Getty Images

Despite the movie's romantic story, the teen idol recalled their relationship as purely platonic. This was because of Shields' young age at the time. "We hung out and had a good time together," he said, emphasizing the friendly bond they formed on set.

In 1980, "The Blue Lagoon"— featuring William Daniels — captivated audiences worldwide following its release. The film's exotic setting and romantic plotline made it an instant hit, catapulting Atkins and Shields to fame.

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Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins on the set of "The Blue Lagoon," circa 1980. | Source: Getty Images

Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins on the set of "The Blue Lagoon," circa 1980. | Source: Getty Images

Personal Life After "The Blue Lagoon": Love, Struggles, and Family

After the immense success of "The Blue Lagoon," Atkins' personal life saw many ups and downs. He had a four-year relationship with actress Cynthia Gibb. But, it wasn't until 1984 that he found true love.

The actor found it while filming a show for the Playboy channel in Australia. It was there he met Australian model and former Playboy centerfold Lyn Barron. The two quickly connected and got married six months later, choosing to settle in Los Angeles.

Christopher Atkins and Lyn Barron at Robin Leach's Christmas Party on December 2, 1984, in West Hollywood, California. | Source: Getty Images

Christopher Atkins and Lyn Barron at Robin Leach's Christmas Party on December 2, 1984, in West Hollywood, California. | Source: Getty Images

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However, their early years together were far from easy. Atkins faced a severe financial crisis when he found his former manager, Mick Schneider, had stolen up to $500,000 from his clients.

This left Atkins nearly bankrupt. This overwhelming stress led to an alcohol-related breakdown in 1986. Reflecting on this challenging time, Atkins said, "There is nothing worse than having your whole life pulled out from under you."

Christopher Atkins at Connie Stevens' Third Annual All-Male Celebrity Fashion Show and Luncheon to Benefit Windfeather on June 8, 1986, in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

Christopher Atkins at Connie Stevens' Third Annual All-Male Celebrity Fashion Show and Luncheon to Benefit Windfeather on June 8, 1986, in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

He checked himself into rehab to address his addiction and began the arduous journey of recovery. Despite these setbacks, Atkins managed to stay sober for years and worked hard to rebuild his life and career. Decades later, he opened up about his envy toward his co-star Brooke Shields' continued success after "The Blue Lagoon."

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During his battle with addiction, the actor struggled to land gigs and saw his fame dwindle. "Absolutely. I was jealous. I kept wishing, I guess, or [was] jealous that I wasn't in an 'A' movie again. Do you know what I mean?" he candidly shared.

Christopher Atkins and Brooke Shields in New York, circa 1980. | Source: Getty Images

Christopher Atkins and Brooke Shields in New York, circa 1980. | Source: Getty Images

Atkins' supportive wife highlighted the strength they found as a family unit, which played a pivotal role in her husband's recovery. "He managed to pick himself up and turn it around. [...] We've really worked hard at it," she said.

Christopher Atkins and Lyn Barron with their children at the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle's "Coming Out of Their Shells" Rock & Roll Tour on November 21, 1990, in Universal City, California. | Source: Getty Images

Christopher Atkins and Lyn Barron with their children at the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle's "Coming Out of Their Shells" Rock & Roll Tour on November 21, 1990, in Universal City, California. | Source: Getty Images

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The couple, parents to a daughter and a son, credited laughter and strong family bonds for their resilience. "The Blue Lagoon" remained a source of amusement, particularly the scene where Atkins' character gets hit in the head with a coconut, which became a family joke.

Both of their children have since followed in their father's footsteps to some extent. Their son grew passionate about baseball. Meanwhile, their daughter became an actress, starring in three British TV films, one written by Atkins.

Chris Atkins with his family at the premiere of "The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle" on June 24, 2000, in Universal City, California. | Source: Getty Images

Chris Atkins with his family at the premiere of "The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle" on June 24, 2000, in Universal City, California. | Source: Getty Images

Post-Marriage Life: Sobriety, Separation, and New Beginnings

In 2007, Atkins celebrated a significant milestone: 22 years of sobriety. However, this period also marked a turning point in his personal life as the actor and his wife decided to separate.

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Reflecting on their time together and the challenges they faced, Atkins said, "I wouldn't change a thing. It's who I am today." After they separated, Atkins entered into relationships with two women.

Kristy McNichol and Christopher Atkins at the Celebrity Meet & Greet to Benefit The Breast Cancer Fund on January 13, 2007. | Source: Getty Images

Kristy McNichol and Christopher Atkins at the Celebrity Meet & Greet to Benefit The Breast Cancer Fund on January 13, 2007. | Source: Getty Images

One lasted seven years and the other four. Despite these long-term relationships, by 2021, the star of "The Blue Lagoon" found himself single once more. At 60 years old, Atkins shared his candid thoughts on dating with Page Six.

The actor expressed that he was single and ready to mingle. When asked about the type of woman he was interested in, Atkins didn't hold back. "Very sexual," he quipped. In addition to his sexual openness, Atkins said he needed someone who could handle his "spontaneous craziness."

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Recent Years: Revisiting "Blue Lagoon," Family, and New Adventures

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In 2015, "The Blue Lagoon" celebrated its 35th anniversary. To commemorate this milestone, Atkins returned to Turtle Island in Fiji, where a significant portion of the film was shot.

This trip was an emotional walk down memory lane for Atkins, who documented his return on Instagram. Fans flooded the comments section with admiration. "Do you NEVER AGE?!! Soooooooo handsome!" one person commented. Another typed, "So hot", and a third shared, "You look 100% hotter than you did way back then."

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Four years later, in 2019, Atkins made a big change. He left Hollywood and moved to Connecticut to be near his elderly mother, Bitsy. She was struggling with memory issues. However, by 2021, the actor had a new plan in place.

After quietly dating Byron Bay businesswoman Justine McIllree, the daughter of former Australian modeling icon Janice Wakely, Atkins revealed he would be relocating to Australia.

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"I adore Australia and have visited at least 20 times. I'd love to settle in Noosa," he shared. Since then, Atkins has continued to share glimpses of his life on social media, maintaining a connection with his fans.

Earlier this year, he posted a picture celebrating his birthday, another enjoying a hike in the woods, and a third snap captured the former actor spending time with his grandchildren. "Well…you are the fun grandpa, that's obvious," one fan shared.

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Another typed, "Lovely boys, lucky you." Another heartwarming post showed Atkins with his grandson, eliciting comments such as "Grandpa's eyes!!!" "He looks as great as you Christopher !!!!!!" another social media user shared, and a third typed, "Looks a lot like you!!🙂."

These updates offer a window into Atkins' life today, highlighting his enduring charm and the deep connections he maintains with his family and fans.

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