‘Let’s get something straight. I don’t see myself as beautiful’: Robert Redford on being shy, his leading ladies and never watching his own films


The actor says ‘they beat the hell out of me’ to nail his latest role as a lone sailor battling the elements. It’s the performance of a lifetime – could it be the one to land him that elusive Oscar?

Robert Redford posing for a photo between takes on Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid

Maybe when you play Death on ‘The Twilight Zone’ at the start of your career, mortality doesn’t faze you.

‘It’s all part of the deal,’ Robert Redford deadpanned.

He didn’t think about dying while he was making his new movie about it, J.C. Chandor’s melancholy mariner’s tale, ‘All Is Lost.’ He thought about enduring.

‘I’m interested in that thing that happens where there’s a breaking point for some people and not for others,’ he said over morning coffee recently in the deserted Owl Bar at his resort here in Sundance Utah.

‘You go through such hardship, things that are almost impossibly difficult, and there’s no sign that it’s going to get any better, and that’s the point when people quit. But some don’t.’

That’s also what drew him to an earlier story: his 1972 tale about a 19th-century mountain man battling the wild, ‘Jeremiah Johnson,’ shot on Mount Timpanogos where we were sitting.

‘You just continue,’ Redford said. ‘Because that’s all there is to do.’

Like Chandor’s talky 2011 Wall Street drama, ‘Margin Call,’ set on the day a Lehman-type firm struggles not to go under, the taciturn ‘All Is Lost,’ is an existential horror story about trying to survive the worst moment of your life – in this case a crippled boat at sea – as panic rises.

Redford has made a career of playing what he calls ‘intrinsically American guys’ going up against implacable forces:

He battled the banks and Pinkertons in ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,’ Indians and grizzlies in ‘Jeremiah Johnson,’ a superficial political system in ‘The Candidate,’ the Irish mob in ‘The Sting,’ the CIA in ‘Three Days of the Condor’ and ‘Spy Game,’ Richard M. Nixon in ‘All the President’s Men,’ big business in ‘The Electric Horseman,’ and, his most formidable adversary, Barbra Streisand, in ‘The Way We Were.’

Hollywood is no country for old men.

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