The movie portion of the 45th Telluride Film Festival got underway in style with this afternoon’s Patrons screening (a “sneak preview” for those who paid $4,900 for a pass) of Fox Searchlight’s The Old Man and the Gun. Star Robert Redford says it will be his last as an actor — but not as a director, which seems to be lost in media reports.
The film, which has its world premiere here in the Colorado Rockies, is a true story about Forrest Tucker who robbed 90-plus banks, got caught 17 times and escaped 17 times. Redford, who also is a producer, said with ironic understatement, “I just thought it was a great story.” The veteran star, who was last in Telluride for his one-man movie All Is Lost in 2013, said he wanted to do this role because the main character was actually “happy” — he loved doing what he did even if it was on the criminal side of the law. The movie clearly captures that spirit in a breezy 90 minutes or so.
Redford, who missed the intro to the film at Telluride’s Werner Herzog theatre due to late travel, did make it halfway through the post-screening Q&A (to a huge standing ovation), joining co-stars Casey Affleck and Sissy Spacek (both excellent), director David Lowery (who previously helmed Disney’s Pete’s Dragon with Redford) and David Grann, who authored the New Yorker story the movie is based on. He praised all of them, spoke of how he has wanted to make this story for a long time, the appeal of playing “outlaws” for him (think the Sundance Kid) and the big question: Is he really going to quit acting?
“I think I also said, ‘Never say never,'” Redford said to big applause from the packed audience. “The truth is I really do feel it is time for me to move into retirement [from acting]. I think I’ve been doing this since I was 21, and I have put my soul into it, and I said to myself, ‘That’s enough. Why don’t you quit while you are a little bit ahead? Don’t wait for the bell to toll, just get out.’ So I felt my time had come and it was time to move into at least semi-retirement. I couldn’t think of a better project to go out on than this film.”
From the reaction of the audience clearly they agreed, but still want more on screen from Redford.
Searchlight releases The Old Man and the Gun on September 28. Check out the trailer here.