For more than 50 years, Robert Redford has been at the top of his game, whether as an actor, Oscar-winning director (Ordinary People), producer or at Sundance, the festival and institute he founded. He won an honorary Oscar for his work with Sundance in promoting independent film, and that is where he met director J.C. Chandor, whose first film, Margin Call, premiered at the festival. But none of the many young directors whose films got big breaks at Sundance actually ever dared to ask Redford to be in a movie. That is, until Chandor brought him All Is Lost. The result is an extraordinary tour de force performance in which Redford is the only actor on screen, playing a man trying to survive after his sailboat springs a leak. Incredibly, Redford has only been nominated for an acting Oscar once in his career, 40 years ago for the lighthearted The Sting. Betting odds are that All Is Lost is going to bring him his second best actor nom.
AwardsLine: What attracted you to such a physically and mentally challenging role?
Robert Redford: It was an opportunity for me to go back to my roots as an actor. That was how I began in this business, and it brought me great joy. As you move through your life, you create opportunities, and if you see new opportunities, you take them. Directing and producing, or creating opportunities for other filmmakers, feels great, but you’re not aware of how it’s taking you further and further away from what your basic joy is—to act. This gave me that in a very big way because of the kind of role it was. Then there is that other thing that happens when you just go in—and it’s impulse—where you say, “I’m going to trust this.” That happened for me with J.C. We met, and very quickly, I thought, “Let’s just do it.” (more…)