Steven graduated Cum Laude from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mass Communications, focusing on film studies, journalism and theatre arts. Dubbed a "prolific" writer by Hollywood icon Kenneth Johnson (The Incredible Hulk, V, The Bionic Woman, Alien Nation), Steven has been honored by the Arkansas College Media Association for his story writing prowess. He has also received recognition for his dramatic writing from the Eerie, Shriekfest and Screamfest horror film festivals. Publications include: Carroll County News, Saline Courier, Forum, Echo and Moroch.
Robert Redford is more than a thespian, he’s a legend.
Many film fans first became acquainted with actor Robert Redford when he appeared in the motion picture “Barefoot in the Park” (1967) starring alongside Jane Fonda, but Redford had already performed 10 years on Broadway and television. And for those who hadn't seen or heard of him, Redford became a household name in 1969 with his breakout role in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”
For over 60 years, Redford played every character imaginable from the naïve and hopeful protagonist in “The Great Gatsby” (1973) to the headstrong and worldly Denys in “Out of Africa” (1985) to the despicable but surprisingly likeable billionaire John in “Indecent Proposal” (1993).
In addition to his many acting credits and accolades, some of Redford’s best work came from behind the camera. As a director, Redford helmed a number of memorable Hollywood titles including “Ordinary People” (1980), “A River Runs Through It” (1992), “Quiz Show” (1994) and “The Horse Whisperer” (1998) among so many others. And his tireless efforts, as the founder of The Sundance Institute, helped propel the love and production of independent movies.
Here are 5 things you should know about Robert Redford:
1. Redford Bullied His Way into Acting
During his first months attending drama school at the American Academy, an introverted Redford found himself teamed with a fellow acting student, and Redford’s classmate chose a scene from Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons” (1947) for them to perform in class. Redford claimed he was sullen and withdrawn, at the time, and his partner seemed a bit of a misfit.
As the boys rehearsed, Redford realized his partner wasn’t listening to anything he said. And thespians learn listening is crucial when it comes to the acting craft. Nonetheless, the boy mouthed Redford’s lines to himself which not only puzzled Robert, but it sparked his anger. Finally, they took to the stage to perform, but the boy continued to focus on his own lines and not Redford.
Livid, Redford yanked the boy out of his chair — a fact Robert is not proud of — and sent him careening across the stage. Rather than chastising Redford, the instructor witnessed passion in the performance and implored Robert to stick with his pursuit of the art. “And I think this was the beginning of acting for me,” Redford said.
2. Redford Was Almost Too Funny to Play The Sundance Kid
In the mid to late 1960s, Redford wasn’t yet an established name in Hollywood, and 20th Century Fox wanted a recognizable, bankable actor to co-star alongside Paul Newman in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (1969). The film, which was once titled “The Sundance Kid and Butch Cassidy,” began with Newman attached to the project as Sundance and Marlon Brando as Butch. Steve McQueen was also in the mix before thirty-year-old Redford’s involvement.
Once Redford was finally considered by 20th Century, the studio insisted he play Butch. However, Redford felt drawn to the role of Sundance. Even after meeting and hitting it off with director George Roy Hill, Redford discovered the studio was adamant he portray Butch because of his comedic work on Broadway.
However, it was Newman who was won over by Redford. Once Paul and Robert met, and after Roy Hill and writer William Goldman failed to sway the studio’s mind, Newman went to bat for his soon-to-be co-star and lifelong friend. And in the end, 20th Century gave into Newman’s demands: Robert plays the Sundance Kid. “I will be forever indebted to him for that,” Redford said.
3. Redford Said No to ‘The Way We Were’
Singer and actress Barbra Streisand wanted Redford to play the part of Hubbell Gardiner in “The Way We Were” (1973) from the very beginning, and director Sydney Pollack fought to get him onboard for Streisand, but Robert wasn’t enamored after reading the original script. The screenplay presented Hubbell as a one-dimensional, pretty boy.
Pollack persisted, but Redford felt the character needed more development. And it was Robert who came up with the idea that Hubbell’s fault was self-awareness. Gardiner knew he was perceived by his looks, but he wanted to be more than someone who skated through life on his handsome features. The idea was intriguing to Sydney, and the director offered to rewrite the script in said direction.
As a result, screenwriter Arthur Laurents worked closely with Sydney to reshape the script, and Redford agreed to portray the lighthearted, writer Gardiner alongside Streisand’s ambitious and politically centric Katie Morosky. Despite rumors Streisand was “murder” to work with, Redford and Streisand’s chemistry availed the movie’s success. “I like her immensely,” Redford said. “And I loved working with her because she’s got so much to give.”
4. Redford Garnered Two Oscars
With an acting career — Broadway, television and film — spanning over six decades, Redford’s reputation as a prolific performer is without question. However, Robert never won an Academy Award for a specific film he performed in. But his lifelong work in the arts certainly didn’t go unnoticed by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Redford’s first and only Oscar nomination for Best Actor came courtesy of his portrayal of Johnny Hooker in “The Sting” (1973), in which he once again worked alongside Newman, but he has been nominated a total of five times in four categories: Best Director twice for his work in “Ordinary People” (1980) and “Quiz Show” (1994), once for Best Picture in “Quiz Show” and once for the Lifetime Achievement Award (2002).
At the 1981 Academy Award ceremony, Redford won his first Oscar as the director of “Ordinary People." In 2002, his good friend and colleague Streisand presented him with the statuette for Lifetime Achievement as The Entertainer — theme song from “The Sting” — resonated amidst the massive applause roaring through the auditorium.
5. Sundance Wins, Roy Hobbs Loses
When it came to starring in “The Natural” (1984), it was a means for Redford to fulfill a lifelong dream. Robert wanted to be a professional baseball player. Unlike “The Way We Were,” Redford desired to play the part of Roy Hobbs from the very beginning. He enjoyed director Barry Levinson’s work on “Diner” (1982), and Levinson was Redford’s introduction to the world of Hobbs.
Despite the magic and wonder of the man dubbed The Natural, and the film’s main character’s feats and exploits with his bat Wonderboy, Roy Hobbs was not Redford’s favorite film role. According to an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Harry Alonzo Longabaugh aka the Sundance Kid remained tops for the accomplished actor.
Sadly, this was not the first time Roy Hobbs lost. While the character was victorious at the conclusion of the film, as he hit the game-winning homerun, Hobbs failed spectacularly in the book. The 1952 novel of the same name by Bernard Malamud leaves readers heartbroken as their hero strikes out against pitching ace Herman Youngberry, and the Knights lose the game.
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