BY DEBBY CARROLL
Chances are you like Robert Redford. You probably have seen and enjoyed several of his movies. Maybe you respect his decades of advocacy on behalf of the environment. Perhaps you admire his championing the work of indie filmmakers with the Sundance Film Festival.
The point is, you probably like Redford because, simply put, there’s a lot to like there. And, we haven’t even mentioned the swoon worthy looks!
“I don’t see myself as beautiful. I was a kid who was freckle-faced and they used to call me ‘hay head.’”
As it all began with movies, let’s start there with his early films. The first was Tall Story in 1962 (Also Jane Fonda’s first film), but the first one to earn him notice was Inside Daisy Clover (1965), for which he won a Golden Globe as best new star. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid hit the screen in 1969 spurring endless years of debate about who was hotter, Redford or Paul Newman. The blockbuster hit The Sting in 1973, earned him his first Academy Award nomination. All the President’s Men in 1976 put him on the star map for sure and spurred a lifelong fascination with journalism.
It was not about Watergate or President Nixon. I wanted to focus on something I thought not that many people knew about: How do journalists get the story?
With acting chops in fine shape, Redford went on to directing with Ordinary People (1980). It won four Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director. Redford just kept on rolling with more directing gigs and multiple acting roles, which he shines in to this day at age 81.
And, into tomorrow, apparently, as he latest film project, Our Souls At Night, debuts in theaters and on Netflix in September. If you loved Redford and Jane Fonda as a couple in Barefoot in the Park (1967), you’ll be so happy to see them reunited 50 years later! Fonda says she’s made four films with Redford and has basically fallen in love with him each time. We know just how she feels!
“I don’t think about when it’s going to stop and what you do before it stops. You just keep moving.”
While Redford keeps his personal life somewhat private, he’s been married twice and had four children and seven grandchildren. He grew up in a working-class neighborhood in Los Angeles. He reports being a “rambunctious” kid who had trouble settling down at night so his dad would tell him a bedtime story. It was a tradition he later continued with his own children so storytelling was woven into the fabric of his life. As a young man he wanted to be an artist but ended up in acting. His need to express himself creatively is probably what ultimately led him to directing as well as acting.
Redford’s won awards too numerous to list but they include Kennedy Center Honors, National Medal of the Arts, Audubon Medal, and an honorary degree from Brown University. He’s long been quite active politically, supporting many causes including environmentalism, LBGTQ rights, and the arts. He’s also supported political candidates on both sides of the aisle.
“It’s an honor putting art above politics. Politics can be seductive in terms of things reductive to the soul. I’m not a left-wing person. I’m just a person interested in the sustainability of my country.”
Perhaps his most well-known arts project, outside of his own films, is the Sundance Film Festival. Founded by Redford and others in 1978 as the U.S. Film Festival, it was a way to attract filmmakers, particularly independent filmmakers, to Utah. It now takes place in Park City, Utah annually and provides awards and resources for filmmakers, writers, and composers. Even if you don’t see yourself as an indie film aficionado, you’ve probably heard of or seen some of the many films to come out of Sundance. The hits include Reservoir Dogs, Garden State, Little Miss Sunshine, The Usual Suspects, sex, lies, and videotape, Clerks, Hoop Dreams, and many more.
“People say I’ve gone against Hollywood, but I’ve tried to be independent within Hollywood, tried to be my own person.”
“I’ve been involved with the environment for years, and I always will be. People need to wake up. The climate’s changing. Water doesn’t reach its destination anymore. We need to realize that this planet is home to all of us. There’s not a lot one person can do alone, but I will sleep better at night knowing that I did whatever I could.”
Redford recently told his grandson he’d likely retire from acting after wrapping up his two most recent films. We’re hoping that’s not the case and have a feeling we’ll all be reading about Redford’s accomplishments for a long time.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Debby Carroll