Atkins had no previous interest or experience in acting, but an agent he knew persuaded him to audition for The Blue Lagoon. Atkins won the role over 2,000 other actors. In the film, he and co-star Brooke Shields played two teenaged cousins living alone together in a tropical paradise after being marooned there as children. Released in 1980, the film grossed over $58 million with a production cost of $4. 5 million but received a negative critical response. Atkins appeared nude (including frontal nudity ) in the film, and spent much of the film wearing a loincloth.