Nationality: American. Born: Charles Robert Redford, Jr. in Santa Monica, California, 18 August 1937. Education: Attended Van Nuys High School, California; University of Colorado, Boulder; Pratt Institute, New York; American Academy of Dramatic Arts, New York. Family: Married Lola Jean Van Wagenen, 1958 (divorced), children: Shauna, David James, Amy Hart. Career: Made his Broadway debut in Tall Story , 1959; made guest appearances on numerous TV series, including Hallmark Hall of Fame, Maverick, The Virginian, The Defenders, Twilight Zone, Alfrted Hitchcock Presents, Route 66, The Untouchables, Naked City, Perry Mason, Playhouse 90 , and The Deputy , 1960–64; made his film debut in War Hunt , 1962; appeared on Broadway in Barefoot in the Park , 1963, and in the film version, 1967; directed the film Ordinary People , 1980; set up Sundance Institute for young filmmakers, 1980; also owner of the Sundance ski resort in Provo, Utah; and is a dedicated conservationist. Awards: Most Promising Newcomer-Male Golden Globe, for Inside Daisy Clover , 1965; Best Actor British Academy Award, for Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here, Downhill Racer , and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid , 1970; World Film Favorite-Male Golden Globe, 1975; World Film Favorite-Male Golden Globe, 1977; World Film Favorite-Male Golden Globe, 1978; Best Director Academy Award, Directors Guild of America Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures, National Board of Review Best Director, Best Director-Motion Picture Golden Globe, for Ordinary People , 1980; Cecil B. DeMille Award-Golden Globe, 1994; Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award, 1996. Address: 1223 Wilshire Boulevard #412, Santa Monica, CA 90403, U.S.A.
War Hunt (Sanders) (as Private Ray Loomis)
Situation Hopeless, but Not Serious (Reinhardt) (as Hank); Inside Daisy Clover (Pakula) (as Wade Lewis)
The Chase (Arthur Penn) (as Eubber Reeves); This Property Is Condemned (Pollack) (as Owen Legate)
Barefoot in the Park (Saks) (as Paul Bratter)
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (Hill) (as SundanceKid); Downhill Racer (Ritchie) (as David Chappellet); Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here (Polonsky) (as Cooper)
Little Fauss and Big Halsy (Furie) (as Big Halsy)
The Hot Rock (Yates) (as Dortmunder); The Candidate (Ritchie)(as Bill McKay); Jeremiah Johnson (Pollack) (title role)
The Way We Were (Pollack) (as Hubbel Gardiner); The Sting (Hill) (as Johnny Hooker)
The Great Gatsby (Clayton) (title role)
The Great Waldo Pepper (Hill) (title role); Three Days of the Condor (Pollack) (as Turner)
All the President's Men (Pakula) (as Bob Woodward, + co-pr)
A Bridge Too Far (Attenborough) (as Maj. Cook)
The Electric Horseman (Pollack) (as Sonny)
Brubaker (Rosenberg) (title role)
The Natural (Levin) (as Roy Hobbs)
Out of Africa (Pollack) (as Denys Finch-Hatton)
Legal Eagles (Reitman) (as Tom Logan)
Do You Mean There Are Still Real Cowboys? (Blair—for TV)(as narrator)
Yosemite: The Fate of Heaven (doc) (as narrator); To Protect Mother Earth (doc) (as narrator)
Havana (Pollack) (as Jack Weil)
Incident at Oglala (Apted—doc) (as narrator, + exec pr); Sneakers (Robinson) (as Martin Bishop/Martin Brice)
Indecent Proposal (Lyne) (as John Gage)
Up Close & Personal (Avnet) (as Warren Justice); Wild Bill: Hollywood Maverick (Robinson—doc) (as himself)
Anthem (Gabel, Hahn—doc) (as himself)
Enredando sombras (Aray, Birri—doc) (as himself); Independent's Day (Zenovich—for TV) (as himself)
Forever Hollywood (Glassman, McCarthy—doc) (as himself)
The Milagro Beanfield War (+ co-pr)
A River Runs through It (+ ro as narrator, co-pr)
Quiz Show (+ pr)
The Horse Whisperer (+ ro as Tom Booker, pr)
The Legend of Bagger Vance (+ co-pr)
Promised Land (Hoffman) (co-exec pr)
Some Girls ( Sisters ) (Hoffman) (exec pr); 84 Charlie Mopic (Duncan) ("thanks to")
The Dark Wind (Morris) (co-exec pr)
King of the Hill (Soderbergh) (exec pr)
The American President (Rob Reiner) (co-pr); The Brothers McMullen (Burns) ("special thanks")
Grand Avenue (Sackheim—for TV) (exec pr); She's the One (Burns) (exec pr)
Slums of Beverly Hills (Jenkins) (exec pr); A Civil Action (Zaillian) (pr); No Looking Back (Burns) (exec pr)
How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog (Kalesniko) (exec pr)
The Outlaw Trail , New York, 1978.
Interview with N. Arnoldi and M. Ciment, in Positif (Paris), October 1972.
"Sydney Pollack: The Way We Are," interview with Patricia Erens, in Film Comment (New York), September-October 1975.
Interview with M. Cosandaey, in Cineaste (New York), vol. 16, nos. 1–2, 1987–88.
Interview with Stephen Schaefer, in Film Comment (New York), January/February, 1988.
Interview with Jill Kearney, in American Film (New York), March 1988.
Interview with Allan Hunter, in Films and Filming (London), July 1988.
"Redford Talks: Our Man in Havana Breaks His Silence," interview with Neil Gabler, in New York , 10 December 1990.
"Weird Wild and Woolly; Welcome to the Offbeat World of Robert Redford," interview with Nicole Burdette, in Harper's Bazaar , October 1992.
"Redford Runs Deep," in Radio Times (London), 6 February 1993.
Interview with Hal Rubenstein, in Interview (New York), September 1994.
Interview with Anthony DeCurtis, in Rolling Stone (New York), 6 October 1994.
"People No Longer Believe That Television Tells the Truth," interview with Andrew Duncan, in Time Out (London), 18 February 1995.
Scenario (Rockville), Summer 1995.
"Question Time," interview with Tom Charity, in Time Out (London), 22 February 1995.
Interview with P. Troy, in Journal: Writers Guild of America, West (Los Angeles), December 1995-January 1996.
Fuller, G., "Redford's Resolve," in Interview (New York), January 1997.
"Robert Redford," interview with T. McCarthy, in Premiere (New York), June 1998.
Spada, James, The Films of Robert Redford , Secaucus, New Jersey, 1977; updated ed., 1984.
Bardavid, Gerard, Robert Redford , Paris, 1980.
Downing, David, Robert Redford , New York, 1982.
Jeier, Thomas, Robert Redford: Seine Filme, sein Leben , Munich, 1984.
Crowther, Bruce, Robert Redford , Tunbridge Wells, Kent, 1985.
Durant, Philippe, Robert Redford , Paris, 1985.
McKnight, Stephanie, editor, Robert Redford , London, 1988.
Clinch, Minty, Robert Redford , Sevenoaks, Kent, 1989.
Callan, Michael Feeney, Robert Redford: the River and the Road , London, 1999.
Life (cover story) (New York), 6 February 1970.
Eyles, Allen, "Robert Redford," in Focus on Film (London), Winter 1972.
Cieutat, Michel, "Robert Redford, ou la nostalgie du passé simple," in Positif (Paris), May 1974.
Chevallier, J., "Portrait Robert Redford," in Cinéma (Paris), May 1980.
Haskell, Molly, "Gould vs. Redford vs. Nicholson," in The Movie Star , edited by Elisabeth Weis, New York, 1981.
Perry, G., "Sundance," in American Film (Washington, D.C.), October 1981.
Current Biography 1982 , New York, 1982.
Hanson, Steve, Patricia King Hanson, and Pat H. Broeske, "Ruling Stars," in Stills (London), June/July 1985.
Hibbin, S., "Robert Redford," in Films and Filming (London), March 1986.
Thomson, David, "Ordinary Bob: Can Robert Redford Ever Explode?," in Film Comment (New York), January/February 1988.
Thompson, A., "Sundance," in Sight and Sound (London), Winter 1988–89.
Alion, Y., "Robert Redford," in Revue du Cinéma (Paris), September 1990.
Caputo, Philip, "Robert Redford: Alone on the Range," in Esquire (New York), September 1992.
Clark, John, "Robert Redford," in Premiere (New York), October 1992.
Weinraub, Bernard, "Robert Redford Speaks His Mind on Truth, Justice, and Hollywood," in New York Times , 4 May 1992.
Nilsson, Ole Steen, "Rentable Robert Redford," in Kosmorama (Copenhagen), Spring 1995.
Brodie, J., "Redford Begins Dance With Political Tune," in Variety (New York), 20/26 January 1997.
Ulmer, J.M., "The Seniors," in Premiere (New York), February 1998.
Rayner, R., "Existential Cowboy," in The New Yorker , 18 May 1998.
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The price of popularity with the moviegoing public often is diminished stature with the critics. Such is the case with Robert Redford, whose exquisite all-American handsomeness has decorated movie screens since the early 1960s. After several years working on stage and as a guest actor in television series episodes, he debuted in War Hunt , a little-seen, low-budget war film. He slowly built up his career throughout that decade, earning his first commercial success by recreating his Broadway role as the stuffy lawyer in the Neil Simon comedy Barefoot in the Park. At the end of the 1960s, he became one of the world's top movie stars and box-office attractions with his fame-solidifying appearance opposite Paul Newman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Newman and Redford are similar in that both are among the beautiful people whose fortunes are in their faces. But Newman, unlike Redford, has chosen not just to play ornaments in glossy Hollywood star vehicles. From Somebody Up There Likes Me in 1956 through Twilight in 1998, Newman has played a wide range of interesting, challenging, deeply complicated characters. Meanwhile, Redford's characters have been confined to a fairly narrow spectrum. He rarely has played unsympathetic types, two exceptions being the arrogant opportunists in Downhill Racer and Little Fauss and Big Halsy. Instead, nearly all of his roles have been charming heroes, or handsome icons who rarely display emotional fireworks. Extremes of anger or romantic ardor are uncommon in his work. Rather, his characters remain dispassionate as they become involved in the dynamics of the story. They are like athletes who look good on the playing field, and are admired by the fans as they play their games, but whose inner workings remain known only to their coaches or fellow players. Even when his character is flawed (the idealistic, naively deluded candidate who compromises his integrity in The Candidate ) or victimized (the tragedy-tainted baseball phenom in The Natural ), Redford's overriding image is that of a Golden Boy. For this reason, recognition as a truly great actor (as opposed to truly great movie star) always has eluded him. The quintessential Redford-as-handsome-icon performance is found in The Way We Were. Here, his character is not so much a person as an object, a larger-than-life divine blond being to be admired by Barbra Streisand. Streisand has the meaty role, that of the ethnic, committed political activist who undergoes the bulk of the character development. Redford is essentially a male Bo Derek—a shallow Joe College who is called upon to do little more than be beautiful.
In all fairness to the actor, however, it must be noted that he came to stardom in an era in which more and more major male movie stars were essentially character actors whose charisma compensated for their lack of classic good looks. By maintaining his stardom, Redford almost singlehandedly kept alive the image of the movie star as a diamond-bright alloy of glamour, celebrity, and erotic allure. He was able to accomplish this by exercising firm control over his career. Since Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid , Redford has selected parts that he feels are compatible with his established screen persona, thus ensuring his popularity with movie audiences. He also has chosen to work with such directors as Michael Ritchie, George Roy Hill, and Sidney Pollack, who seem to best understand that persona, and know how to successfully convey it on-screen.
Perhaps Redford has been at his best playing opposite Newman, in Butch Cassidy and The Sting. Newman's presence seems to loosen up Redford, and their on-screen chemistry is the key ingredient which makes both films such satisfying entertainments. In these films, Redford adds a pleasingly wry wit to his characterizations. And in his better screen moments, he is effectively able to hint, via subtle nuance, at a more complex psychology hidden beneath his surface presence.
In recent years, Redford has transcended his identity as an actor. In the 1980s, he established the Sundance Institute for young filmmakers, with his Sundance Film Festival, a showcase for the year's newest independent films, evolving into one of the motion picture industry's higher-profile events. He also entered the directing arena in 1980, winning an Academy Award for his maiden effort, Ordinary People. It remains an impressive drama examining the brittle reality beneath the veneer of an outwardly typical upper-middle-class American family that has been torn apart by tragedy.
Unfortunately, none of Redford's subsequent directorial efforts have matched Ordinary People. The Milagro Beanfield War is set in a picturesque New Mexico town, mostly populated by poor and powerless Hispanics, that is about to be swallowed up by "progress" in the form of a fat-cat land developer. The result is at best pleasant and entertaining, enhanced by lyrical, wryly humorous moments, and at worst unnecessarily melodramatic. A River Runs through It is a much-too-taciturn drama about the relationships and opposing forces within another American family, this one an outdoors Montana household. Despite its wide acclaim, Quiz Show , an allegorical drama about the television quiz show scandals of the late 1950s, is wrought with oversimplifications and misstatements of fact.
The Horse Whisperer is perhaps Redford's best post- Ordinary People film, a sound, sensible drama about a young teenage girl and her horse, both of whom are traumatized after a horrible accident. The girl's mother, a worldly but never-quite-satisfied New York magazine editor, brings the two out west for the down-home therapy dispensed by the title character, a sage, weathered Montana rancher (played by Redford). At its core, The Horse Whisperer may be linked to Ordinary People and A River Runs through It as a story of the invisible walls that separate and alienate the members of an American family, with a spotlight on young people whose innocence is tainted by fate. In The Horse Whisperer , the antidote to this rift involves embracing a lifestyle that is simple, direct, and no-nonsense—one that, in fact, reflects on Redford's own passion for the American West.
A sense of social responsibility exists within Redford's more recent cinematic projects, from the subjects he has chosen for the films he has directed to his involvement with the Sundance Institute and his narrating and executive producing Michael Apted's Incident at Oglala. The latter is a potent documentary presenting evidence of the railroading of Leonard Peltier, the American Indian Movement activist convicted of killing a pair of FBI agents in 1975 at South Dakota's Pine Ridge Reservation. A number of Redford's earlier films work as examinations or exposes of inequities within the American system. The Candidate and All the President's Men deal with the seamy side of American politics. Brubaker uncovers corruption within the penal system. The Electric Horseman is a tract against crass commercialism and the exploitation of nature.
As one school of thought maintains, Redford's looks have been his albatross, limiting the directions in which a sizable talent might otherwise have taken him. Meanwhile, others argue that he is merely a competent actor with exceptional physical appeal. What remains indisputable is that, unlike hundreds (if not thousands) of other pretty boy actors, Redford has been no flavor of the month, a hot item one day and a has-been (or never-was) the next. He has maintained his stardom over several decades, which in and of itself is quite an accomplishment.
—Fiona Valentine, updated by Rob Edelman