Countdown to Sundance London: Robert Redford profile
Compiled by Jack Foley
ROBERT Redford is an American actor, director, producer, environmental activist, philanthropist and businessman.
His expansive career boasts a range of roles in over 50 films, an Academy Award for Best Director, and founder of the Sundance Film Festival.
His performances in theatre, television, and film have rightfully given him mega-star status, and it is his continued involvement in the movie industry as both an actor and director that continues to bring prestige and distinction to the annual festival commemorating independent filmmakers across the United States.
In honour of this year’s upcoming Sundance London Film Festival, taking place between April 25 and 28 at the O2, here is a brief – and certainly not exhaustive – look back at some stand-out moments from Redford’s long, and continuing, film career.
Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid (1969)
Starring alongside Paul Newman – and effectively sparking a life-long friendship – this film cemented Redford as a bankable movie star in the breakthrough role of the titular Sundance Kid.
The role would end up having a major influence in his later life, founding the Sundance Institute and the Sundance Film Festival in Utah and naming it after his character.
Directed by George Roy Hill, the film currently holds the record for the British Academy Awards (BAFTAs). It won for picture, actor (Redford), actress (Katharine Ross), direction (Hill), screenplay, cinematography, film editing, sound and score.
The Sting (1973)
This blockbuster crime caper again teamed up the dynamic duo of Redford and Newman, this time playing a pair of con artists in 1930’s Chicago.
Redford received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role, and the film remains one of the top 20 highest grossing movies of all time when adjusted for inflation.
Once again directed by George Roy Hill, Redford’s character (Johnny Hooker) is supposedly named after blues legend John Lee Hooker. Ironically, Jack Nicholson turned down the role of Hooker before Redford changed his mind and decided to play it.
The Way We Were (1973)
Proving his versatility as an actor, Redford co-starred alongside Barbra Streisand in this hugely popular period drama about two lovers who try to sustain a complicated relationship throughout the years.
The role further cemented Redford’s leading man reputation and added good old-fashioned romance to his lengthening list of genres.
Directed by the late Sydney Pollack, the film almost didn’t star Redford as producer Ray Stark approached Ryan O’Neal when first-choice leading man procrastinated about taking the role of Hubbell Gardner.
All The President’s Men (1976)
Scripted by Butch Cassidy writer William Goldman, this landmark film paired up Redford with Dustin Hoffman as famed reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein attempting to uncover the truth about Watergate.
With Redford as co-star and executive producer, the film attempted to create a realistic portrayal of journalism and reflected his off-screen concern for political causes.
To prepare for their roles, Redford and Hoffman hung out in the Washington Post newsroom for several weeks, observing reporters and attending staff meetings.
It also features a cameo from Frank Wills, the security guard who discovered the break-in at the Watergate complex, playing himself.
Ordinary People (1980)
Taking a seat behind the camera instead of in front of it, Redford’s directorial debut was a critical success winning a number of Oscars including Best Director. The film follows the disintegration of an upper class American family and stars Donald Sutherland and Mary Tyler Moore.
Based on the novel by Judith Guest, Redford decided to do the film because the story’s family reminded him of his own in the way it talked around issues.
It also marks thre film debuts of both Timothy Hutton and Elizabeth McGovern.
Indecent Proposal (1993)
Forever remembered as the movie where Robert Redford offered Woody Harrelson a million dollars for one night with Demi Moore, this film gave Redford one of his most popular and recognized roles.
Playing the corrupt millionaire who uses bribery to test people’s morals, Redford’s performance made the movie one of the year’s biggest hits.
Ironically, the film was originally designed as a star vehicle for Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, with Warren Beatty taking the part of the millionaire. Porn star Randy West was Redford’s body double.
The Company You Keep (2012)
Most recently, Redford directed and co-starred in this political thriller centered on a former activist who goes on the run after a young journalist, played by Shia LeBeouf, discovers his identity.
Marking the first film with Redford as both director and actor, it has so far won two awards from the Venice Film Festival.
It also boasts one of the most impressive ensemble casts in recent memory. Aside from the leading duo, there’s Susan Sarandon, Julie Christie, Richard Jenkins, Chris Cooper, Nick Nolte, Brit Marling, Terrence Howard, Stanley Tucci, Anna Kendrick, Sam Elliott, Stephen Root and Brendan Gleeson (to name but a few).
Sundance Film Festival – Founder
No list of accomplishments would be complete without Redford’s founding contribution to the Sundance Institute in 1981, and consequently the Sundance Film Festival, Sundance Cinemas, Sundance Catalogue, and the Sundance Channel, all in or around Park City, Utah.
The Sundance Film Festival is now one of the most prestigious events in the movie industry, giving independent filmmakers from around the world a chance to showcase their works. Redford’s continued involvement and support brings respect and admiration to any Sundance project – even all the way across the pond at Sundance London.
Sundance London is taking place from April 25-28, 2013 at The O2, London. Visit the website