"Every film I've ever done is about some part of America," says Robert Redford. "But most of it is in what I would call 'the gray zone.' I like the idea of ending films with a question: Don't wrap it all up, just leave it open-ended."
Heading for the Mountains
"I just wanted to be in the mountains. I wanted to be away from Los Angeles because I felt it was going to the dogs," says Redford, photographed Dec. 6 at Eaves Movie Ranch in Santa Fe, N.M., of his teen years.
A ‘Bold’ Script
Although the two had met at Sundance, Redford and his All Is Lost director J.C. Chandor didn't really get to know each other until Chandor sent the actor his 31-page script, which had no dialogue and required an actor willing to work without any other cast and spend weeks immersed in water. "That was the first thing that I liked," says Redford of the sparse screenplay. "Wow! I mean, this is really bold. And then once we talked, I said, 'This is a chance for me to go back to my roots and really be an actor.' By taking away dialogue, taking away voiceovers, taking away special effects, it was pure cinema the way cinema used to be."
Chandor says the All Is Lost crew marveled at Redford's commitment. When most of them got up each day, they'd look out and see him swimming in the hotel pool. "It was an intense schedule and a short schedule," explains Redford. "I'd be so exhausted, I would wake up and just be stiff. I had to loosen my body, so I would take a few laps in the pool."
Redford on Paul Newman
"We became friends and our friendship turned out to be very similar to our relationship in both Butch Cassidy and The Sting," Says Redford. "I really do miss him because he was an extraordinary human being." Such relationships have been rare for Redford. "I have been too busy to have many close friends. It's my fault, the lack of maintenance."
Goodbye to Sundance?
Redford tells THR he wants to "shed" some of the trappings that have consumed his life — the endless work, the producing as well as directing, the maintenance of three homes (in Santa Fe, N.M., Utah and Napa Valley, Calif.) — and maybe even Sundance. It's hard to believe, but after 30 years he may be prepared to move away from the institution that has best defined his independent nature. "Sometimes you have to change the guard," he says, "and that includes me."