February 16, 2009 12:00 PM

The irony is not lost on Christopher Atkins. In 1980, at age 19, he became a Hollywood star as a scantily clad castaway in The Blue Lagoon. Now, at 47, he makes his living building swimming pools, often lagoon-like, in Hollywood. “You have to do what you need to do,” says Atkins, whose rugged blond looks have held up well with age. “If you look at life as an adventure, when the good, bad and ugly hits you, you’ll still get through it.” That sense of perseverance has come in handy now that Atkins, along with six other former heartthrobs, is trying for another taste of fame on the VH1 reality series Confessions of a Teen Idol. “It is kind of my turn again,” Atkins says. “Somewhere in the back of your mind, you wonder, do you still have it?”

Atkins lost it in his early 20s when, newly married, he found himself with few acting offers, nearly bankrupt, and in rehab for alcohol addiction. Now sober 22 years, and divorced in 2007 from model Lynne Barron, he has no regrets. “I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s who I am today,” says the proud father of college students Grant, 23, and Brittney, 21. Atkins hopes his reality stint will mean less time with chlorine and more time onscreen. “Nowadays I joke about how I want to relive the ’80s,” he says. “But this time, I want to remember them!”

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