He won the role over 4,000 other actors. He had no previous interest or experience in acting. Atkins starred in his first film at the age of nineteen years, which gained him a brief burst of fame.
The romance adventure remake The Blue Lagoon, opposite Brooke Shields, was released in 1980 and became a huge box office success. The movie cost $4.5 million, but has grossed over $58 million.
The Blue Lagoon still remains a classic of romantic fantasy and adventure. Atkins appeared fully nude on screen at a time when male frontal nudity in films was rare.
The role allowed him to show off his swimming abilities, innocent good-looks and he was established as a teen idol. After the success of the film, Atkins was recognized and mobbed everywhere. Female fans literally tore off his clothes.