A charming con artist, Robert Redford became a Hollywood star over 50 years ago. In the Western comedy “Zwei Banditen” (1969, original title: “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”), he attacked the railroads and the banks with Paul Newman. Intoxicated, but still with the charismatic and breathtaking smile, Redford retreated into “A crook …
A charming con artist, Robert Redford became a Hollywood star over 50 years ago. In the Western comedy “Zwei Banditen” (1969, original title: “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”), he attacked the railroads and the banks with Paul Newman. Grizzled, but still with a charismatic and stunning smile, Redford politely drew his gun as old bank robber Forrest Tucker in “A crook & gentleman” (2018). “I thought it would be wonderful if my last film was quirky, upbeat and funny,” Redford said in 2018 after the premiere at the film festival in Toronto, Canada. Tucker had fun in his rascal life. The star told the “San Francisco Chronicle” that he himself had had a rebellious side from a young age and always felt like an outsider.
Redford retired? Not quite yet. The actor and director, who turns 85 on Wednesday, has been persuaded to make another appearance. In the superhero show “Avengers: Endgame” (2019), he showed his villainous side as Agent Alexander Pierce. But now the Hollywood star is serious. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine in April, Redford said he never fails to work in front of or behind the camera. He now leaves this work to others. At 81, he was still in the spotlight with Jane Fonda. The Venice Film Festival awarded the two film veterans the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in 2017. There they also presented the love drama “Our Souls at Night”. “I really wanted to work with Jane again before I died,” Redford flattered to reporters at the time.
His rise to the Hollywood star team has been rather bumpy. Redford was born in Santa Monica, California, on the outskirts of the movie metropolis. Son of a milkman, he grew up in simple circumstances. A sports scholarship allowed him to enter the University of Colorado. Young Redford hitchhiked across Europe, sold painted pictures, and eventually made some detours to a drama school in New York City. After films like “Barefoot in the Park” starring Jane Fonda and the western comedy “Two Bandits”, the handsome actor with steel blue eyes, angular face and blond hair quickly became an on-screen idol by the end of the decade. 1960s. On screen, he shone in love, for example with Mia Farrow in “The Great Gatsby” (1974) or alongside Meryl Streep in the award-winning melodrama “Out of Africa” (1985).
His personal life has kept Redford out of the headlines. At 22, he married future historian Lola Van Wagenen, and the parents of four children divorced in 1985. His eldest son died at the age of five months. Her James, also a filmmaker, died of cancer last October at the age of 58.
Redford celebrated the second marriage in Hamburg. There, in 2009, he said yes to his longtime German friend, the painter Sibylle Szaggars. An avid ski, rider and hiker, Redford has lived for decades in a country house in Utah, far from Hollywood. In 1980, he founded the Sundance Institute in the Rocky Mountains, which today is America’s largest film festival for independent productions. Redford sees his mission as nurturing critical young voices.
As a liberal model, he liked to take a position on screen or in the director’s chair. As the main actor in the election satire “Bill McKay – The Candidate” he became political as early as 1972, then in the drama “Die Unbrechlichen” (1976) with Dustin Hoffman as the “Watergate” sniffer of the “Washington Post” , the Richard Nixon shot down. Redford has also been seen in East German cinema with great success in films such as “The Clou”, “Those Years in Hollywood” or “The Electric Rider”, in which he played a worn out former rodeo rider. In the survival drama “All Is Lost”, he was in great shape at the age of 77. He played a sailor who drifts alone on his yacht that leaks into the ocean. During filming, he went to his physical limits. The hoped-for Oscar nomination for “All Is Lost” surprisingly didn’t come in 2014.
Redford has had his only chance to win as an actor to date alongside Paul Newman in the crook comedy “The Nail” (1973). During his long career, the star won only one Oscar trophy, in 1981 as the director of “A Completely Normal Family”. A consolation: in 2002, the Academy of cinema awarded him the Oscar of honor for the work of a lifetime.
According to his own statements, in retrospect, he would hardly want to change anything in his life. Is there something he regrets? “No, I would do everything, including the mistakes that are part of it, it’s part of the process of life,” the actor and director said in an interview with the German news agency when he made his ninth work in 2013, the political thriller “The Company you keep – The Grant File”, introduced. So he has no regrets? “Nothing professionally, maybe in private, but I won’t tell you.”
In April, he quickly answered the “Rolling Stone” question about the rules of personal life that were most important to him. “Take a long walk and take a long sip of good tequila.” (dpa)