Robert Redford Part 4

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Within a week, Nichols, and the production, perked up. "I saw what Bob was giving us. He had the farce experience from Sunday in New York. Sunday in New York. He could roll with the unexpected moments. And Bob was also a very funny guy when he was p.i.s.sed, and he was p.i.s.sed a lot in those days, so that was great electricity for Paul Bratter. Once Bob himself got those elements by the neck, he had the character, and he was off and running." He could roll with the unexpected moments. And Bob was also a very funny guy when he was p.i.s.sed, and he was p.i.s.sed a lot in those days, so that was great electricity for Paul Bratter. Once Bob himself got those elements by the neck, he had the character, and he was off and running."

Redford, though, thought the prep time was insufficient. He felt unready when the show opened out of town at the Bucks County Playhouse. Ashley, emotionally spent from overwork and the complexities of her love life, was exhausted before the show started. No one saw the approaching nervous breakdown that would put her out of the show within three months, and ultimately out of show business for half a decade. But it was Simon who fell apart after the first night. "He just disintegrated," says Nichols. "As far as he was concerned, we had on our hands the worst play ever written. He actually asked the theater manager that very question: 'Is this the worst play you've ever had?' In my opinion, apart from the fact that the third act didn't work, we brought the house down. All the laughs came on cue, and I knew Bob was the center of it. He'd tightened up enormously and, for the performance, gave it everything. I learned he was the kind of actor who inhabits inhabits the role, and so it was perfectionism that lifted Paul Bratter. Neil wrote an uptight character. Bob's eccentricity made him someone lovable." Redford believes that Paul Bratter was unquestionably his most successful theater role. the role, and so it was perfectionism that lifted Paul Bratter. Neil wrote an uptight character. Bob's eccentricity made him someone lovable." Redford believes that Paul Bratter was unquestionably his most successful theater role.

After Bucks County, there was a hiatus before the play would begin its pre-Broadway tour, at New Haven, in the fall. Redford returned to the Utah building site and resumed what he calls his "soul work." By August, the house was finished. "My whole psychological framework changed," he says. "Simply, the day-to-day work, carving stone, digging, seeing this house grow like a flower in the landscape, touched me very deeply. I already felt I belonged in the canyon, that it had a hold on me. Now I felt that what I had just accomplished was far more important than Broadway." Stan Collins, who knew the area well from childhood hikes, was impressed by the beauty and craftsmans.h.i.+p of the finished house. He also saw something beyond pride of owners.h.i.+p. "Bob definitely sensed a mission. The house was amazing, but it was a little too far up the canyon, a little too off the road, a little too inaccessible. You got the impression that he had a hidden hand, that there was more to this idea of building a house in Utah than met the eye."

When Redford rejoined the play in New Haven, he "behaved badly. I did not want to be there, and I did not cooperate. It was really tough on Mike, on everyone, and today I feel ashamed of how I was." Neil Simon had fixed the technical problem, boosting the third act by adding a love affair between Velasco and Corie's mother. A jolting review brought Redford to attention, a local critic remarking that "the play was fine, except for Redford, who couldn't be heard past the first few rows." Redford says, "It was true-I was lying down. I was spiritually still in Utah, so you might say I was on my way out the door." Over dinner Nichols inadvertently saved the day. They talked of the characters, of the personalities of the actors, of Ashley's troubles. "And then," says Redford, "Mike said something that connected me once again with Bratter, whom I'd lost. He said, 'You have the secret'-meaning, the answers to the character rested with me. I suddenly saw the power of my choice, that Paul Bratter could be whoever I wanted him to be. There wasn't any a.n.a.lysis beyond that. I made some actor decisions. I went onstage, and I just kept silent. Elizabeth delivered her lines, and I just smiled and looked at her. And it worked! She looked at me, waiting for the line...and she had to look again, waiting. The tone between us sharpened. Freshness and power came back into Bratter, and I was connected with acting again. The show was back on the road."

Nichols felt the need to confront Redford on another matter. "I became fascinated by the fact that he had no interest in his beauty. It was depressing, because he wanted to plaster his hair down and play the nerd. He had come to like Bratter again, but he felt himself playing against against Liz, and that confused him. She, after all, was supposed to be the object of desire." Once again over dinner the play was reenergized. Nichols says, "I told him, 'Look, I've had years of experience in a double act, and I've learned one thing: you cannot win the battle unless you accept that it's a battle.' Bob just nodded and we ended our meal. When we did the show that night, it was a completely different show. Liz became Liz, and that confused him. She, after all, was supposed to be the object of desire." Once again over dinner the play was reenergized. Nichols says, "I told him, 'Look, I've had years of experience in a double act, and I've learned one thing: you cannot win the battle unless you accept that it's a battle.' Bob just nodded and we ended our meal. When we did the show that night, it was a completely different show. Liz became invisible. invisible. He pulled out every trick and knocked her off the planet. That's when we really took off." He pulled out every trick and knocked her off the planet. That's when we really took off."



Ashley's affair with Peppard, she later said, added to the burden of years of overwork and derailed her emotionally. "I felt like a failure," she wrote in her memoirs. "I had a lot of energy and flash and was as adorable as I could be. But I wasn't any good and I knew it. I could tell that Redford knew it too, and every time I went out onstage it compounded my sense of inadequacy. The more I acted the worse it seemed to get." Nichols disagrees. "Certainly, as we headed for Broadway, she didn't slacken in terms of commitment. Bob challenged her, and she gave him a run for his money."

When they played in Was.h.i.+ngton, Richard Rodgers deemed the play "irresistible." Newsweek Newsweek declared it sublime. Redford, however, was in despair. He recalls, "What the reviews said to me was, This play is finished. It was done, it worked! So for me the work was over. I went to a bar to have a drink with Mike. He asked me what was wrong and I told him, 'I feel lonely onstage. It's the signal for me that something's wrong, that I'm not connecting.' I told him I couldn't go on with declared it sublime. Redford, however, was in despair. He recalls, "What the reviews said to me was, This play is finished. It was done, it worked! So for me the work was over. I went to a bar to have a drink with Mike. He asked me what was wrong and I told him, 'I feel lonely onstage. It's the signal for me that something's wrong, that I'm not connecting.' I told him I couldn't go on with Barefoot Barefoot because the critics had put the cap on it. He asked me to reconsider, and I told him honestly that I couldn't. And then he did a very smart thing. He said, 'All right, forget all that's been said tonight. Forget what the critics like. Forget that Richard Rodgers likes it. From now on it's a completely blank sheet of paper, it is no longer blocked out. Whatever we have is whatever because the critics had put the cap on it. He asked me to reconsider, and I told him honestly that I couldn't. And then he did a very smart thing. He said, 'All right, forget all that's been said tonight. Forget what the critics like. Forget that Richard Rodgers likes it. From now on it's a completely blank sheet of paper, it is no longer blocked out. Whatever we have is whatever you you want to do. Just take it and go with it. You are Paul Bratter. Play it whatever d.a.m.ned way you feel.'" want to do. Just take it and go with it. You are Paul Bratter. Play it whatever d.a.m.ned way you feel.'"

Nichols remembers the conversation as stressful but invaluable, both in securing a friends.h.i.+p and in developing their respective careers. "Bob taught me something. I wanted a play set in stone. He didn't. He wanted a play that was evolving every every night. Something that was always new. In my experience, very few actors would go that far. It's too energy consuming. That, I felt, was the mark of his integrity." night. Something that was always new. In my experience, very few actors would go that far. It's too energy consuming. That, I felt, was the mark of his integrity."

The results, momentarily, were disastrous. "It was a case of swinging too far to the left to counter the swing to the right," says Redford. "But it bonded us so tight and together we made the adjustments and straightened it all out."

The play became the toast of Broadway's fall 1963 season, opening on October 23 and garnering the biggest receipts of 196364 and a Tony for Nichols. Over the next two years it would earn $50 million, a 500 percent return for its investors.

Redford, Simon and Nichols were elevated to a kind of national stardom with the enormousness of Barefoot' Barefoot's success; so was Ashley, who appeared on the cover of Life Life in November, the week before she was admitted to a psychiatric ward at Payne Whitney. For Simon, after years of laboring in television, fame was bewitching. Nichols found it exhilarating. For Redford, national attention was wonderfully confusing. "I was suddenly Mr. Focus. Eleanor Roosevelt and Noel Coward dropped by. Natalie Wood came backstage. Bette Davis summoned me to her suite at the Plaza. For me, the best was Ingrid Bergman, who came backstage. When she was leaving, I went after her to say, 'Miss Bergman, I just wanted to tell you how great I think you are.' She smiled with the greatest charm and said simply, 'Do only good work.' It came with such sincerity that it stopped me dead in my tracks, and it felt like the most positive result of the whole business." in November, the week before she was admitted to a psychiatric ward at Payne Whitney. For Simon, after years of laboring in television, fame was bewitching. Nichols found it exhilarating. For Redford, national attention was wonderfully confusing. "I was suddenly Mr. Focus. Eleanor Roosevelt and Noel Coward dropped by. Natalie Wood came backstage. Bette Davis summoned me to her suite at the Plaza. For me, the best was Ingrid Bergman, who came backstage. When she was leaving, I went after her to say, 'Miss Bergman, I just wanted to tell you how great I think you are.' She smiled with the greatest charm and said simply, 'Do only good work.' It came with such sincerity that it stopped me dead in my tracks, and it felt like the most positive result of the whole business."

On November 22, in the middle of the hysteria for Barefoot, Barefoot, Redford was being wined and dined at the Four Seasons by agents from William Morris, who were enthusiastically discussing movie possibilities. As he was sandwiched between them in a crosstown cab, the news came on the radio that Kennedy had been a.s.sa.s.sinated. Redford stopped the cab and went walking. "I walked for hours, in shock like everyone else, but also recording the public reaction like a journalist." The night's performance of Redford was being wined and dined at the Four Seasons by agents from William Morris, who were enthusiastically discussing movie possibilities. As he was sandwiched between them in a crosstown cab, the news came on the radio that Kennedy had been a.s.sa.s.sinated. Redford stopped the cab and went walking. "I walked for hours, in shock like everyone else, but also recording the public reaction like a journalist." The night's performance of Barefoot Barefoot was canceled. The following night, and in the nights after, Redford noticed a strange phenomenon in the theater. "We'd had to adjust the text a little, to take out, for example, a jokey reference to me, Bratter, dying in the prime of my life. All that was understandable. But after a short period, I found the oddest thing. The sound of the audience laughter changed. It was subtle, but it was very marked. The laughter became raucous and harsh. And it never returned to the way it was before. It was as if innocence was gone from American audiences. At least, that's what it felt like." Redford, like many, later saw the a.s.sa.s.sination, and the following tragic deaths of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, as representative of a ground s.h.i.+ft in American att.i.tudes. "It was a terrible erosion of the belief system that had been in place since the Civil War. These were serial deaths of a president and national leaders at the hands of fellow Americans. This poked a finger in the chest of every American alive, saying, 'This country isn't the was canceled. The following night, and in the nights after, Redford noticed a strange phenomenon in the theater. "We'd had to adjust the text a little, to take out, for example, a jokey reference to me, Bratter, dying in the prime of my life. All that was understandable. But after a short period, I found the oddest thing. The sound of the audience laughter changed. It was subtle, but it was very marked. The laughter became raucous and harsh. And it never returned to the way it was before. It was as if innocence was gone from American audiences. At least, that's what it felt like." Redford, like many, later saw the a.s.sa.s.sination, and the following tragic deaths of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, as representative of a ground s.h.i.+ft in American att.i.tudes. "It was a terrible erosion of the belief system that had been in place since the Civil War. These were serial deaths of a president and national leaders at the hands of fellow Americans. This poked a finger in the chest of every American alive, saying, 'This country isn't the United United States. This is a coalition of interests, not all of which are in alignment. States. This is a coalition of interests, not all of which are in alignment. Let's think this through Let's think this through before it's too late.'" before it's too late.'"

Through late 1963 and into 1964, as Barefoot Barefoot ran, Redford continued to appear on television in quality shows, his favorite of which was an episode of ran, Redford continued to appear on television in quality shows, his favorite of which was an episode of The Virginian. The Virginian. He rationalized this work simply: it paid the bills, the $6,000 for He rationalized this work simply: it paid the bills, the $6,000 for The Virginian The Virginian coming in especially handy to help fund a new apartment on West Seventy-ninth Street. But he would only take parts he could learn from. "The criterion I applied was, What can I absorb from this? Who wrote it? Who's in it?" He accepted an episode of coming in especially handy to help fund a new apartment on West Seventy-ninth Street. But he would only take parts he could learn from. "The criterion I applied was, What can I absorb from this? Who wrote it? Who's in it?" He accepted an episode of The Virginian The Virginian called "The Evil That Men Do," written by Frank Chase and directed by Stuart Heisler, to work alongside Lee J. Cobb. "You couldn't go wrong studying him," says Redford. "Here was an actor who did it all, starting in the Group Theatre, doing stage, the cla.s.sics, movies, and now he was in television. He'd had a heart attack and had obviously slowed down, but I was keen to learn from him." After a particularly intense scene, in which Redford found himself stretching to impress the great man, Cobb took him aside: "I know what you're looking for, son, but you won't get it from me. I've paid my dues, done my work, and now I just want to be comfortable." called "The Evil That Men Do," written by Frank Chase and directed by Stuart Heisler, to work alongside Lee J. Cobb. "You couldn't go wrong studying him," says Redford. "Here was an actor who did it all, starting in the Group Theatre, doing stage, the cla.s.sics, movies, and now he was in television. He'd had a heart attack and had obviously slowed down, but I was keen to learn from him." After a particularly intense scene, in which Redford found himself stretching to impress the great man, Cobb took him aside: "I know what you're looking for, son, but you won't get it from me. I've paid my dues, done my work, and now I just want to be comfortable."

Redford's television career was soon over. The decision was made, he says, by television, not by him. The fifties, as the film historian Leslie Halliwell has pointed out, was television's Elizabethan age, a time when the medium offered interpretations of O'Neill, Shakespeare and Moliere and introduced the contemporary genius of playwrights like Reginald Rose (Twelve Angry Men) and Paddy Chayefsky (Marty). All that changed in the sixties when twenty-four-hour demand and sponsors' greed greatly diminished quality. What followed, said Halliwell, was "the age of the beer can, with America's anonymous network selection committees consciously gearing all their programs to the mentality of the fat little guy in the midwest who slumps in his armchair pouring Coors down his throat."

Redford wanted no part of it. Through the trials of the last five years and especially the ups and downs of Barefoot in the Park, Barefoot in the Park, he realized that acting per se truly interested him, that the attachment was honest and edifying. "But I wasn't sure that theater could sustain me, either. Like television, it was on the slide. The swing was toward the pop hit formula. I tried to look beyond Broadway for inspiration and found plenty to admire in actors like Richard Burton, Albert Finney and, especially, Paul Scofield, who enchanted me that year in he realized that acting per se truly interested him, that the attachment was honest and edifying. "But I wasn't sure that theater could sustain me, either. Like television, it was on the slide. The swing was toward the pop hit formula. I tried to look beyond Broadway for inspiration and found plenty to admire in actors like Richard Burton, Albert Finney and, especially, Paul Scofield, who enchanted me that year in A Man for All Seasons. A Man for All Seasons. But at that point, even in England, these great actors were being badly served. I felt, and still believe, that theater is the center of the universe for actors. It's intimate, and therefore it's a force for honesty. You sit and say to your audience, at arm's reach: 'Sit down, let me tell you my story. I am a salesman with a home and a family....' You earn their trust one by one. But I was a realist as much as I was an idealist. I knew I wouldn't be able to feed my family on the sc.r.a.ps thrown to me by Arthur Miller or Edward Albee, and I knew Neil Simon wouldn't produce a But at that point, even in England, these great actors were being badly served. I felt, and still believe, that theater is the center of the universe for actors. It's intimate, and therefore it's a force for honesty. You sit and say to your audience, at arm's reach: 'Sit down, let me tell you my story. I am a salesman with a home and a family....' You earn their trust one by one. But I was a realist as much as I was an idealist. I knew I wouldn't be able to feed my family on the sc.r.a.ps thrown to me by Arthur Miller or Edward Albee, and I knew Neil Simon wouldn't produce a Barefoot Barefoot every season. So I had to move on." every season. So I had to move on."

The cinema, after his meditations on The Treasure of the Sierra Madre The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, was always the good option and by the summer, he had a workable movie offer. Paramount, excited by Barefoot Barefoot's success, proposed a good project, Situation Hopeless...but Not Serious, Situation Hopeless...but Not Serious, with Alec Guinness. In one fell swoop, Rosenberg resolved the Sanderses' contract and Redford was free to proceed as he wished. The Paramount movie would be shot in Europe. "I got excited," says Redford. "Europe had thrilled me and I wanted to go back, to get that stimulation. It was serendipity again." with Alec Guinness. In one fell swoop, Rosenberg resolved the Sanderses' contract and Redford was free to proceed as he wished. The Paramount movie would be shot in Europe. "I got excited," says Redford. "Europe had thrilled me and I wanted to go back, to get that stimulation. It was serendipity again."

In October 1964 Redford left Barefoot Barefoot and flew to Munich with Lola and the kids. He started writing in his diary again, carefully logging the developing opportunity. The movie was based, he was pleased to record, on actor Robert Shaw's 1960 novel, and flew to Munich with Lola and the kids. He started writing in his diary again, carefully logging the developing opportunity. The movie was based, he was pleased to record, on actor Robert Shaw's 1960 novel, The Hiding Place, The Hiding Place, "a wonderful work" that had already been twice adapted for television, most recently as a "a wonderful work" that had already been twice adapted for television, most recently as a Playhouse 90 Playhouse 90 episode with James Mason and Trevor Howard. It is the story of two American airmen, Captain Hank Wilson and Sergeant Lucky Finder (Englishmen in the book), from opposite ends of the social divide, who are incarcerated in a bas.e.m.e.nt in n.a.z.i Germany by a storekeeper, Frick, who enjoys their company so much that he refuses to tell them the war is over. Guinness would play Frick; Mike Connors, star of the police television series episode with James Mason and Trevor Howard. It is the story of two American airmen, Captain Hank Wilson and Sergeant Lucky Finder (Englishmen in the book), from opposite ends of the social divide, who are incarcerated in a bas.e.m.e.nt in n.a.z.i Germany by a storekeeper, Frick, who enjoys their company so much that he refuses to tell them the war is over. Guinness would play Frick; Mike Connors, star of the police television series Tightrope, Tightrope, would be Finder; and Redford would play Wilson. The director was Gottfried Reinhardt, son of the famous Max. Reinhardt's wife, Silvia, was script consultant. "And there I had problems," says Redford, "because Shaw's original work was rock solid. Silvia danced around with it unnecessarily, as is the Hollywood custom, to validate her fee." would be Finder; and Redford would play Wilson. The director was Gottfried Reinhardt, son of the famous Max. Reinhardt's wife, Silvia, was script consultant. "And there I had problems," says Redford, "because Shaw's original work was rock solid. Silvia danced around with it unnecessarily, as is the Hollywood custom, to validate her fee."

Silvia's main redevelopment was to further Americanize the story, something Robert Shaw was reluctant to agree to. The drama was tilted toward comedy or, as the work was routinely described around Paramount, satire. Shaw's novel was a wry, serious narrative that The Times The Times of London had commended for its "high dramatic value." Redford's journal reveals fast-developing gloom. Ten days into shooting at the Bavaria Studios in suburban Munich, he wrote that the director was an overfunded boor, his wife a s.e.xually playful attention seeker. Worse, Guinness was "cold in manner, overcontrolled, [a man who] does it all by numbers." Today Redford says, "It was my first experience of working with English actors, who appeared, at that time, more involved with craft than movies. They worked 'out to in,' as opposed to 'in to out,' and that was hard for me. Alec was a good actor, but he had it all worked out for himself before he got to the set, which left nothing for the spontaneity I'd learned to love under Mike Nichols's direction. For me, as a new actor, the lack of opportunity to connect was demotivating." of London had commended for its "high dramatic value." Redford's journal reveals fast-developing gloom. Ten days into shooting at the Bavaria Studios in suburban Munich, he wrote that the director was an overfunded boor, his wife a s.e.xually playful attention seeker. Worse, Guinness was "cold in manner, overcontrolled, [a man who] does it all by numbers." Today Redford says, "It was my first experience of working with English actors, who appeared, at that time, more involved with craft than movies. They worked 'out to in,' as opposed to 'in to out,' and that was hard for me. Alec was a good actor, but he had it all worked out for himself before he got to the set, which left nothing for the spontaneity I'd learned to love under Mike Nichols's direction. For me, as a new actor, the lack of opportunity to connect was demotivating."

Mike Connors believed the problem was with the Reinhardts and their failure to come to grips with the material. "This type of yarn was Guinness's perfect territory," says Connors. "The story of the cellar with these captive 'pets' was pure Ealing comedy. It was fun! Alec understood that, but they didn't. Gottfried's failing was that he was not authoritative, he had no control over Guinness or any of us, and Silvia's problem was that her writing was pedantic. So they combined to drag us down."

What is clear to all in hindsight is that Situation Hopeless Situation Hopeless failed to gel as a comedy. It was a.s.sembled awkwardly, with little accent on the rhythms of wit. The acting styles clash. In all the long, sedentary dialogue sequences Guinness indulges in circus mode, while Redford and Connors give stock performances. "But it wasn't one of those productions where you could actively contribute," says Connors. "It was more a case of, 'Stand here, say this.'" failed to gel as a comedy. It was a.s.sembled awkwardly, with little accent on the rhythms of wit. The acting styles clash. In all the long, sedentary dialogue sequences Guinness indulges in circus mode, while Redford and Connors give stock performances. "But it wasn't one of those productions where you could actively contribute," says Connors. "It was more a case of, 'Stand here, say this.'"

While he socialized with Connors and his wife, Redford mostly preferred family evenings at the hotel in the Leopoldstra.s.se, playing with the kids. He would put them on each knee facing him and tell them the tale of the Three Little Pigs. In his diary he wrote, "During one of these [play] moments, time past came thundering into the present. I remember myself as a child, and my father, so vividly. I remember having the extraordinary ability to make him truly laugh. I knew his ticklish spot and hit it time and again. I could clearly again see him laughing till tears came into his eyes. This great bear who so dominated my childhood leaning back, his teeth bare to the gums, face contorted and beet red, nose bunched and wrinkled. And me pouring it on, going at it with such vigor and ham, all encouraged and feeling important. Those times were wonderful." They also provoked gloom, given the joyless "humor" of Silvia Reinhardt's script.

After the Christmas break, taken in Salzburg, Redford faced a few days of work to wrap the movie, then a return to New York. At Christmas, he says, he felt despondent. He had discovered a European tipple he liked too much-a juniper-flavored gin called Steinhager. What faced him back home was a void. "He really had no hard plans," says Mike Connors. "He told me he had an understanding that he'd probably do the movie version of Barefoot- Barefoot-if, indeed, they ever got around to doing it. 'Beyond that,' he said, 'who knows?'"

Meanwhile, Nichols, for his part, had decided he did not want to make the movie of Barefoot; Barefoot; he was eager instead to make his film debut with a modern masterpiece, Edward Albee's he was eager instead to make his film debut with a modern masterpiece, Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? In December, as a Christmas gift, he couriered the script to Germany. Redford read it in Salzburg and disliked it. "I knew the play," says Redford. "I didn't like it when I saw it at the Billy Rose Theatre in 1962. I thought Albee was magnificent. I thought the George and Martha, husband and wife, roles were the best. But the role I was being offered, the younger professor, Nick, just died in the text. I felt he started powerfully, but the author didn't know what to do with the character, and so he trailed off after the first half. I didn't want that part." In December, as a Christmas gift, he couriered the script to Germany. Redford read it in Salzburg and disliked it. "I knew the play," says Redford. "I didn't like it when I saw it at the Billy Rose Theatre in 1962. I thought Albee was magnificent. I thought the George and Martha, husband and wife, roles were the best. But the role I was being offered, the younger professor, Nick, just died in the text. I felt he started powerfully, but the author didn't know what to do with the character, and so he trailed off after the first half. I didn't want that part."

Rosenberg was shocked by Redford's decision to refuse the movie, as was Nichols. "I thought he could have invested some real magic in that role," says Nichols. "I thought he made a mistake then, and I still think he made a mistake."

By January, Rosenberg had alternatives in place: one was a movie offer from producer Alan J. Pakula at Warner Bros., the other a three-picture deal at Paramount, inclusive of a big-screen version of Barefoot in the Park. Barefoot in the Park. "In principle," says Redford, "I should have been ecstatic. But I loved being on the road in Europe. I loved connecting with Shauna and Jamie and discovering their personalities." In his diary, Redford acknowledged his "risky" decision making, stubbornly insisting on an extended New Year's family vacation in Europe, despite Rosenberg's pressure. "I look forward to getting to Spain," he wrote, "and to renting a villa where, hopefully, it will all end, the sleepless hours and the push, the nerves and the needless anguish." "In principle," says Redford, "I should have been ecstatic. But I loved being on the road in Europe. I loved connecting with Shauna and Jamie and discovering their personalities." In his diary, Redford acknowledged his "risky" decision making, stubbornly insisting on an extended New Year's family vacation in Europe, despite Rosenberg's pressure. "I look forward to getting to Spain," he wrote, "and to renting a villa where, hopefully, it will all end, the sleepless hours and the push, the nerves and the needless anguish."

On December 4, 1964, Redford's last television performance, in an episode of The Defenders The Defenders directed by Stuart Rosenberg and filmed during directed by Stuart Rosenberg and filmed during Barefoot, Barefoot, was aired on CBS. A month later he was in Majorca, family in tow, unemployed. "It was blissful as long as I could persuade myself that it would last," he remembers. During was aired on CBS. A month later he was in Majorca, family in tow, unemployed. "It was blissful as long as I could persuade myself that it would last," he remembers. During Barefoot, Barefoot, a full-page presentation of his paintings had appeared in the pages of the a full-page presentation of his paintings had appeared in the pages of the New York Journal American. New York Journal American. Now he tried to resume his art but found it next to impossible. "Writing seemed easier, so I kept a log of what I was seeing and feeling, and it served as my personal a.n.a.lyst. It was a devil's advocate. It allowed me to question myself." Now he tried to resume his art but found it next to impossible. "Writing seemed easier, so I kept a log of what I was seeing and feeling, and it served as my personal a.n.a.lyst. It was a devil's advocate. It allowed me to question myself."

The family traveled to Can Pastilla in an attempt to reawaken what he describes in his diary as "the richest experience I have ever had." But the marble villa he once lived in was neglected and overgrown, with a Coca-Cola billboard blocking its sea view. The Redfords moved west and found a blue-and-white villa perched on the cliffs at Port d'Alcudia. In the shade of Mediterranean pines, surrounded by bougainvillea (his favorite shrub), Redford walked the cliffs and mocked himself for his yearnings for "a Beatnik-type freedom."

Within days, he wrote in the diary, Lola had observed a major change in him. For the first time since they'd met, he was relaxing, happy to sit and idle by the fire. He was reading Saroyan; she, Aldous Huxley. On January 4, T. S. Eliot died, and the newspaper articles about his pa.s.sing, as well as the contemporaneous reports of Allen Ginsberg's street protest for the legalization of marijuana in New York, roused him. In his journal he wrote at length about American cultural values and his desire for a better understanding of what it is to be an American. T. S. Eliot represented "dignity and restraint" that had survived half a century-"He seems to have found the rare area between detachment and involvement"-while Ginsberg encapsulated everything that was wrong with the youth, "soaking his body in the Ganges, stalking the Far East" while becoming "confused, confusing and ridiculous." Redford says his viewpoint has changed: "I could not then hook into Ginsberg's work because, like him, it was too loudly desperate. It was about me, me, me. I preferred Gary Snyder or Robert Creeley. Ginsberg's was not the voice I was open to at that time."

Ginsberg's, though, was a critical new American voice at a time of ferment. Every American newspaper Redford got his hands on reported the convulsions at Berkeley, the Joan Baez rallies at Sproul Plaza, the helicopters tearga.s.sing students. It was, says Redford, a bewildering tapestry to unravel. On one hand, there was the clear progress of Johnson's Great Society with the landmark bills for civil rights and wilderness protection. On the other was military escalation in Vietnam and the Merry Pranksters. "I alternately felt that the place was in trouble or undergoing a terrific change. More than anything, the confused signals I was getting reflected the confusion inside myself. I had sympathy with the reformists, but I was involved with starting a career and raising a family, so I was, literally, elsewhere. On the other hand, this terrible ferment was a place of some attraction to me."

The day he read of T. S. Eliot's death, Redford also received a telegram from Meta Rosenberg summoning him home. In his diary, Redford recorded the "feeling of sickness in my stomach." Lola was eager to get back to New York so the kids could start school; he was not. In his diary he wrote hopefully of meetings in Paris with Francois Truffaut and Tony Richardson, both of whom had expressed interest in working with him. "But when I got down to it, I knew my fate was with Rosenberg and the Warners soundstage. I was the one who asked for that. I was the one who set those wheels in motion."

10.

Child's Play For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world. But don't worry. May we meet in the castle of lost souls, in the land of the black swan, otherwise known as the Prince of Darkness. Welcome, little captive, to the waterfall of sweet dreams."

In the elegant faux-Grecian splendor of a Brentwood mansion, Redford has finished speaking and is sprawled drunkenly on a plump Empire bed, a half-full gla.s.s of brandy in one hand and Natalie Wood, one of the biggest stars in the world, at his feet. This introduction to the world of Daisy Clover, the wide-eyed teenager on the brink of stardom, is scintillating, Shakespearean even, and delivered with a panache that immediately secures the characterization of Wade Lewis, a rising actor uncomfortable in his skin. Alan Pakula, the young producer of Inside Daisy Clover, Inside Daisy Clover, stood in the wings and watched Redford's true baptismal moment with sheer delight. "I thought, He's nailed it," said Pakula. "And he's pulled it off because he's just as uncomfortable as Wade Lewis." stood in the wings and watched Redford's true baptismal moment with sheer delight. "I thought, He's nailed it," said Pakula. "And he's pulled it off because he's just as uncomfortable as Wade Lewis."

The movie, written for Wood, who was coming off West Side Story, West Side Story, a winner of multiple Academy Awards, was a fable about the destructive power of s...o...b..z, a cogent, less romanticized version of a winner of multiple Academy Awards, was a fable about the destructive power of s...o...b..z, a cogent, less romanticized version of A Star Is Born, A Star Is Born, and it pivoted on Lewis. In the script, Daisy swaps carny life shared with her nutty mother for the cynical patronage of Raymond Swan, a Hollywood mogul. Swan promises to mold every move she makes-deciding even when she may cut her hair-to effect her stardom. But Lewis takes her off the rails with him instead, marrying her and ditching her. and it pivoted on Lewis. In the script, Daisy swaps carny life shared with her nutty mother for the cynical patronage of Raymond Swan, a Hollywood mogul. Swan promises to mold every move she makes-deciding even when she may cut her hair-to effect her stardom. But Lewis takes her off the rails with him instead, marrying her and ditching her.

Pakula had wondered about his partner Robert Mulligan's choice in casting Redford. "He wanted Bob more than I did, but when I saw this sinister side, I thought, He's perfect." The worry, said Pakula, was that this kid from Brentwood would play it like a spoiled brat. "But Bob had the smarts. He'd done the schoolwork, and he chewed up the faux Shakespeare like he'd seen it all, lived it all. As the scene moves on, as he asks Daisy if she would like to get drunk with him, and she says, 'Yes, on sweet sherry,' the savage arch of his brow, that sardonic double take, was the best cinema I'd seen all year."

Redford had met with Pakula and Mulligan, a hot partners.h.i.+p since their 1962 collaboration on To Kill a Mockingbird, To Kill a Mockingbird, backstage at the Biltmore the previous summer. They had the script from English critic Gavin Lambert, based on his own 1963 novel, and they had Wood, whom they'd recently collaborated with on backstage at the Biltmore the previous summer. They had the script from English critic Gavin Lambert, based on his own 1963 novel, and they had Wood, whom they'd recently collaborated with on Love with the Proper Stranger. Love with the Proper Stranger. Wood, a friend of Lambert's, dropped by at the Biltmore, too. Redford already knew her. They'd met at Van Nuys High, where the San Franciscoborn actress, already established, was fulfilling California's legal educational requirement while caroming from movie to movie. "She said she wanted me to do Wood, a friend of Lambert's, dropped by at the Biltmore, too. Redford already knew her. They'd met at Van Nuys High, where the San Franciscoborn actress, already established, was fulfilling California's legal educational requirement while caroming from movie to movie. "She said she wanted me to do Daisy Clover, Daisy Clover," Redford recalls. "She saw what I was trying to do with Paul Bratter, and she saw that I was all about taking a chance. And when I read Lambert's script, I I got it. Wade Lewis was gay, and I stalled. I told Pakula and Mulligan, 'No, I will not play this role, because I won't do it justice.' Natalie had the power after got it. Wade Lewis was gay, and I stalled. I told Pakula and Mulligan, 'No, I will not play this role, because I won't do it justice.' Natalie had the power after West Side Story, West Side Story, and she insisted they redraft it for me, to make it more interesting and easier for me to play. They did. So I said, 'Okay, I'll do it.'" and she insisted they redraft it for me, to make it more interesting and easier for me to play. They did. So I said, 'Okay, I'll do it.'"

Many, including Pakula, believed Lambert's story was a commentary on the life of Norma Jean Mortenson, the naif who became Marilyn Monroe. Lambert says the story was "fundamentally a woman's tale, about enchantment, exploitation and survival in Hollywood." For Lambert, whether Wade was gay or not was irrelevant. "What the story was about was how Daisy finds inner strength to overcome the abuses and regain herself, as she does in the end. Natalie was ideal for the character, because it was her life story. Daisy's mother didn't want her to be a star and Natalie's did, but otherwise it was similar."

Inside Daisy Clover, astonis.h.i.+ngly Natalie Wood's thirty-eighth movie, was originally a Columbia project developed to follow astonis.h.i.+ngly Natalie Wood's thirty-eighth movie, was originally a Columbia project developed to follow Love with the Proper Stranger. Love with the Proper Stranger. Michael Callan, the Columbia contract actor, was the first choice for Wade Lewis, but then Warners contracted Wood to make Michael Callan, the Columbia contract actor, was the first choice for Wade Lewis, but then Warners contracted Wood to make The Great Race The Great Race and bought out and bought out Daisy Clover, Daisy Clover, too. The switch allowed Wood to take control of new casting, and, apart from Redford, she chose Ruth Gordon to play her mother and Christopher Plummer for Swan. Rosenberg refused to entertain Redford's hesitation on this project. "She told me to get real," says Redford. A $6,500 fee was agreed on, small change compared with Wood's $33,000 a week, plus 5 percent of the gross. too. The switch allowed Wood to take control of new casting, and, apart from Redford, she chose Ruth Gordon to play her mother and Christopher Plummer for Swan. Rosenberg refused to entertain Redford's hesitation on this project. "She told me to get real," says Redford. A $6,500 fee was agreed on, small change compared with Wood's $33,000 a week, plus 5 percent of the gross.

Redford flew from Spain to New York at the beginning of February, saw the kids into nursery school, then traveled on to rehearsals in Los Angeles. On February 16 the first read-through took place at Lambert's Santa Monica home. Bronx-born Pakula, who had come to Hollywood via Yale, found much to talk about with Redford: "I'd been through Warners animation and produced theater plays and kissed a.s.s to do some movie directing, so our experiences were similar in many regards. I also knew enough to recognize the outsider. I'd known Jimmy Dean quite well, double-dating Pier Angeli's sister while Jimmy courted Pier. I knew the Jimmy Dean edge when I saw it, and I saw it in Bob. Natalie was the one who spotted him first, but I'd seen him do the Schary play, where he hadn't a lot to say, but he kind of growled, demanding attention. I'd auditioned him and pa.s.sed on him then. This time around I saw he could be the great outsider, like Tod Hackett awaiting the burning of Los Angeles in Day of the Locust, Day of the Locust, a guy with a big agenda. It's inside him, I thought. So, if he can get it out ...?" a guy with a big agenda. It's inside him, I thought. So, if he can get it out ...?"

Redford was disoriented by his homecoming. One moment, he says, he was barefoot in the Balearics, the next he was being feted at the best suite at the Beverly Wils.h.i.+re. "It was full-on Hollywood, a hint at a lifestyle I'd previously only observed as a very distant outsider growing up in the town. I was treated like royalty, by Warners' decree. The first morning, the room service guy came to serve me breakfast and laid it out and started giving me the weather report for the day-'Good morning, Mr. Redford. It is fifty-four degrees outside, but the forecast is fine. It will be eighty degrees by midday'-as if by rote. I said, 'Where are you from?' And he mumbled something, because my question wasn't in his 'script.' But I wanted to know where he was from. I didn't want bulls.h.i.+t, but I was going to get it. It took me ten minutes to get the details: that he was from Gary, Indiana. When I said I knew Gary, he just wanted to be out of there. I was overstepping. He had his role, and I had mine. I hated that game."

Lola and the kids flew out, and Redford rented an expensive family home on Rockingham for the duration, where Lola's brother and sister, Wayne and Betty, resided with them. "Bob was the new prince in town," says Wayne, who loved the nights out at Trader Vic's, the favored eatery. "They were on the learning curve themselves and found a lot of fun working out the dos and don'ts of etiquette." At one point, an invitation to a Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor party in Bel Air arrived. Wayne was excited, Lola noncommittal, Redford plain dismissive. "Work always preoccupied him," says Wayne. "Just work."

The movie was shot on the Warners lot, on location at Apple Valley and at the pier area of Santa Monica. "It was a milieu I knew like the back of my hand," says Redford, "and it should have been conducive to great work. As I saw him, Wade Lewis was mysterious, arrogant and charming, attractive to both s.e.xes, but he could not be captured. Mulligan and Pakula seemed to buy into my vision of the character. But Gavin wasn't buying. I liked Gavin very much, and I was told he'd based Wade Lewis on Monty Clift. I knew enough by then to understand that a whole generation of actors like Rock Hudson lived the lie. But I did not want to go there. What I opted for was something s.e.xually more subtle. I tried to depict an entirely different species: the insatiable hedonist, the guy who has the power and the appet.i.te and uses them to screw men, women, dogs, cats, anything. A complete narcissist. A guy like Caligula, who doesn't care." Lambert insists Redford misread his, Pakula's and Mulligan's intentions: "I wrote Wade as a gay man. Apart from the one relations.h.i.+p he had with Melora, the wife of the studio boss, he was unwavering in his gayness. I thought that Bob had accepted that, and Mulligan and Pakula certainly went for those undercurrents." But Redford was emphatic: "I wanted to experiment. I wasn't aware about the waves I was raising. I was selfish in developing what I thought was a more complex character, and probably not respectful of the intentions of such a special, important writer. In ways, it was like my experience with Lettin and The Seagull. The Seagull. I was insisting on doing it my way, and maybe not the way the writer or director had interpreted it." I was insisting on doing it my way, and maybe not the way the writer or director had interpreted it."

Wood clearly appreciated Redford's obduracy. In an interview she told Photoplay: Photoplay: "He's the most unbendable actor I know. He sticks to his principles when all about him are shedding theirs. He is unbribable by fame. He'd sooner starve than conform." "He's the most unbendable actor I know. He sticks to his principles when all about him are shedding theirs. He is unbribable by fame. He'd sooner starve than conform."

One incident during filming sealed the friends.h.i.+p between Wood and Redford. As they shot in a small boat off Santa Monica Pier, a sudden change in the wind direction cast them adrift in the Malibu current. Mulligan, on the unwieldy camera launch, attempted to leash the boat but snapped the retaining cables, breaking an a.s.sistant's leg. For twenty minutes Redford and Wood rode the squall, all the time moving farther out to sea. Wood, who hated the sea, panicked. Redford laughed her through it. "He was laughing so much, she surrendered and trusted him," said Mulligan. "Later, when he realized how precarious the situation really was, he sobered up. But that jock heroism impressed Natalie, and, as friends, they never looked back."

Rumors of an affair between them were rife on the set. Pakula observed "a natural connection that arose from mutual recognition of the rebel heart." According to Wood's personal a.s.sistant Howard Jeffrey, Natalie "fell head over heels for Redford" during the shoot, while accepting that "he not only looked like Jack Anderson, the all-American boy, but he lived like him as well." Redford admits to a great attraction to Wood and a closeness beyond friends.h.i.+p, "but I was aware very early on of the liabilities of intimacy with the women you act with. There are two industries: the film business and the parasite called the gossip industry, which can devour you. I loved Natalie's seriousness. She wasn't crazy like Monroe. She was the kind of girl who'd sit up all night writing notes: a trouper, the real thing. Nat and I became tight. When she married the agent Richard Gregson, I was her best man, and we stayed close until the end of her life" (with tragic irony, in a boating accident, off Catalina Island, in 1981).

Gavin Lambert, visiting the set, judged Redford, like Wood, an actor of instinct, not intellect. As the movie progressed, Lambert was surprised by Redford's intensity. Approaching a defining sequence, where Lewis interrogates himself in the dressing-room mirror before making love to Daisy, Redford sought out Lambert and insisted on his presence on the soundstage. "He felt it was critical to have me at hand," says Lambert, "undoubtedly because of the s.e.xual plurality of what he was portraying. But he really didn't need me. He sailed through it, and I thought, My G.o.d, his comprehension is precocious. You'd expect it from someone who has made forty pictures, not someone who's made two. At the same time, his skill wasn't an intellectual one. It seemed more what we'd call a natural gift."

After seven weeks of filming, Redford was happy to be back in Provo for the first blaze of the spring flowers. In his diary he wrote that he was on the run again, hiding away on his hill, happy to be reunited with Lola and forgetting the calendar. In April, just before he left Los Angeles, Wood proposed a role for him in her next project, a Tennessee Williams adaptation for Seven Arts and Paramount called This Property Is Condemned. This Property Is Condemned. Redford met with Wood's producer, Ray Stark, and disliked him. "He had the character of the mercenary merchant who will say anything to get his way but can never be trusted. He lived like a Roman emperor merely because he lived beneath the Hollywood sign." The script, a leftover from an abandoned Taylor-Burton project, was poor. "The only appeal was Natalie. The script wasn't authentic Williams. It was a hundred pages blown up from a twenty-minute one-acter about two kids remembering the Depression that Williams himself didn't like. Ray Stark threw every writer he had at it, from John Huston to Francis Coppola, but none of them managed to get over the fact that it was a one-act play." Redford met with Wood's producer, Ray Stark, and disliked him. "He had the character of the mercenary merchant who will say anything to get his way but can never be trusted. He lived like a Roman emperor merely because he lived beneath the Hollywood sign." The script, a leftover from an abandoned Taylor-Burton project, was poor. "The only appeal was Natalie. The script wasn't authentic Williams. It was a hundred pages blown up from a twenty-minute one-acter about two kids remembering the Depression that Williams himself didn't like. Ray Stark threw every writer he had at it, from John Huston to Francis Coppola, but none of them managed to get over the fact that it was a one-act play."

Rosenberg pressed Redford about maximizing his situation. Monique James reminded him that Louella Parsons was already formally announcing his arrival on the Hollywood star scene in the New York Journal American. New York Journal American. His name, suddenly, was vying for s.p.a.ce with Steve McQueen, Rock Hudson, Marlon Brando. The Brits were currently the toast of the town, with Sean Connery's James Bond and the Beatles dominating the media, but there was plenty of room for new Hollywood stars. Redford still dawdled. Then Wood informed him that she and Stark were in discussion with several interesting directors, among them Arthur Hiller, John Frankenheimer and Clive Donner, though none had been confirmed. Redford thought of his friend Sydney Pollack. Pollack had just completed his modest movie directorial debut, His name, suddenly, was vying for s.p.a.ce with Steve McQueen, Rock Hudson, Marlon Brando. The Brits were currently the toast of the town, with Sean Connery's James Bond and the Beatles dominating the media, but there was plenty of room for new Hollywood stars. Redford still dawdled. Then Wood informed him that she and Stark were in discussion with several interesting directors, among them Arthur Hiller, John Frankenheimer and Clive Donner, though none had been confirmed. Redford thought of his friend Sydney Pollack. Pollack had just completed his modest movie directorial debut, The Slender Thread, The Slender Thread, and had an option contract with Paramount. and had an option contract with Paramount.

Wood frowned. "Sydney Pollack? Who's he?"

"He's the new hot guy. You don't know about The Slender Thread The Slender Thread? Have they been hiding him from you?"

Wood called in Pollack for an interview.

Pollack's progress in Los Angeles and New York had been as serpentine as Redford's, but he had won an Emmy for television directing, and The Slender Thread, The Slender Thread, a true-life story of a suicide hotline made for Warners, was gathering good notices. "We were b.u.t.terflies emerging together," said Pollack. "There was this dark, depressive state we shared when we got together, and we were getting together a lot at that time. Night after night we drank and debated. We drove back and forth to Provo in his Porsche. We never stopped talking. A lot of the people around us were intellectuals. But we were autodidacts; we did it ourselves. We loved drama. We loved fantasy. We liked the idea of the Method but we hated the fad. For me, Kazan was king. But, like Bob, I hated all the pretentious existential heaviness. Basically we were on the same page and so all the time we shared seemed productive." a true-life story of a suicide hotline made for Warners, was gathering good notices. "We were b.u.t.terflies emerging together," said Pollack. "There was this dark, depressive state we shared when we got together, and we were getting together a lot at that time. Night after night we drank and debated. We drove back and forth to Provo in his Porsche. We never stopped talking. A lot of the people around us were intellectuals. But we were autodidacts; we did it ourselves. We loved drama. We loved fantasy. We liked the idea of the Method but we hated the fad. For me, Kazan was king. But, like Bob, I hated all the pretentious existential heaviness. Basically we were on the same page and so all the time we shared seemed productive."

"Long before Sydney directed me," says Redford, "the director-actor dynamic was in play. It was a dialogue that could switch either way, real productive interactivity based on our curiosity about the world and a desire to put new spins on conventional platforms. Out of that bond came This Property. This Property."

On Wood's say-so Pollack was a.s.signed the job. While James Bridges labored on a new script and everyone waited, Rosenberg found the perfect project to fill the gap: Sam Spiegel, the producer of David Lean's. .h.i.t Lawrence of Arabia, Lawrence of Arabia, wanted Redford for Columbia's wanted Redford for Columbia's The Chase, The Chase, to be directed by one of New York's most eminent emerging television directors, Arthur Penn to be directed by one of New York's most eminent emerging television directors, Arthur Penn. Spiegel, well educated in Europe and exiled by Hitler, was on his way to establis.h.i.+ng his reputation as the world's most successful independent producer, maker of Spiegel, well educated in Europe and exiled by Hitler, was on his way to establis.h.i.+ng his reputation as the world's most successful independent producer, maker of On the Waterfront, The Bridge on the River Kwai On the Waterfront, The Bridge on the River Kwai and and Suddenly, Last Summer. Suddenly, Last Summer. Spiegel's reputation was founded on the literacy of his stories, his discernment in casting and the sheer size, ever growing in scale, of his productions. The script for Spiegel's reputation was founded on the literacy of his stories, his discernment in casting and the sheer size, ever growing in scale, of his productions. The script for The Chase The Chase was by Lillian h.e.l.lman, who had adapted Horton Foote's fifties play about mob rule. Redford read it and couldn't put it down. Superficially about a redneck murder hunt, it was layered with character insights and strong on metaphor. The story revolved around small-town Texan Sheriff Calder, under pressure in his community to find Bubber Reeves, who has escaped from prison. The oil-rich Val Rogers controls much of town life, and his son, Jake, is on edge because he has been having an affair with Anna, Reeves's wife. Calder attempts to bring Reeves in unharmed, against the will of Rogers as the scurrilous mob instincts rage. was by Lillian h.e.l.lman, who had adapted Horton Foote's fifties play about mob rule. Redford read it and couldn't put it down. Superficially about a redneck murder hunt, it was layered with character insights and strong on metaphor. The story revolved around small-town Texan Sheriff Calder, under pressure in his community to find Bubber Reeves, who has escaped from prison. The oil-rich Val Rogers controls much of town life, and his son, Jake, is on edge because he has been having an affair with Anna, Reeves's wife. Calder attempts to bring Reeves in unharmed, against the will of Rogers as the scurrilous mob instincts rage.

Redford felt the script had the same power The Treasure of the Sierra Madre The Treasure of the Sierra Madre possessed. It was, clearly, less an entertainment than a commentary on human behavior. He was also stimulated by the extraordinary creative elements Spiegel had a.s.sembled. He had enjoyed Penn's prodigious possessed. It was, clearly, less an entertainment than a commentary on human behavior. He was also stimulated by the extraordinary creative elements Spiegel had a.s.sembled. He had enjoyed Penn's prodigious Playhouse 90 Playhouse 90 work and the string of stage triumphs that included work and the string of stage triumphs that included Two for the Seesaw Two for the Seesaw with Henry Fonda and with Henry Fonda and An Evening with Nichols and May, An Evening with Nichols and May, and he was aware of Penn's movies, and he was aware of Penn's movies, The Left Handed Gun, The Left Handed Gun, about Billy the Kid, and about Billy the Kid, and The Miracle Worker, The Miracle Worker, about Helen Keller, both penetrating studies of parent-offspring relations.h.i.+ps that examined the integral violence in human relations.h.i.+ps. Most attractive was the casting: Robert Duvall, Angie d.i.c.kinson, Jane Fonda, E. G. Marshall and-best of all-Brando. "I was invigorated by the prospect of sharing screen time with Brando because I regarded him as an artist, like Robards," says Redford. "I was also open to whatever education he might give me by a.s.sociation." about Helen Keller, both penetrating studies of parent-offspring relations.h.i.+ps that examined the integral violence in human relations.h.i.+ps. Most attractive was the casting: Robert Duvall, Angie d.i.c.kinson, Jane Fonda, E. G. Marshall and-best of all-Brando. "I was invigorated by the prospect of sharing screen time with Brando because I regarded him as an artist, like Robards," says Redford. "I was also open to whatever education he might give me by a.s.sociation."

The part on offer to Redford was Jake Rogers, the son of the oil magnate. Redford called Meta Rosenberg. "I'll do the film, but I want to play Bubber Reeves," he told her.

Rosenberg was shocked. "You're out of your mind," she told him. "That's the small part. That's the guy on the run who we hardly see till the end."

"But it was the better part," says Redford today. "It carried the movie, because Bubber's fate determines the moral values of the community. Bubber makes the movie's point. The role was also the renegade, done-down kid, and that was easy for me, since I'd considered myself an outsider to convention for a lot of my teens." Rosenberg reluctantly called Spiegel, who conceded and cast James Fox as Jake instead.

Arthur Penn had seen Barefoot Barefoot on his friend Mike Nichols's recommendation. "Bob came to read at Sam's house," said Penn, "and he was super confident. I was wary because on his friend Mike Nichols's recommendation. "Bob came to read at Sam's house," said Penn, "and he was super confident. I was wary because Barefoot Barefoot left no impression on me. I was prejudiced, too, because the guys I preferred were the Actors Studio people. And I was also prejudiced because I thought he'd be better as Jake, despite what he wanted. But I was smitten. More than anything it was his physical impact. He was right. He automatically fulfilled the role of Bubber Reeves, the convict, because Bubber, for me, was a representational figure who symbolized the purity that was lost after Kennedy's a.s.sa.s.sination. He becomes a golden martyr. And Bob, the golden, confident guy, was exactly right for it." left no impression on me. I was prejudiced, too, because the guys I preferred were the Actors Studio people. And I was also prejudiced because I thought he'd be better as Jake, despite what he wanted. But I was smitten. More than anything it was his physical impact. He was right. He automatically fulfilled the role of Bubber Reeves, the convict, because Bubber, for me, was a representational figure who symbolized the purity that was lost after Kennedy's a.s.sa.s.sination. He becomes a golden martyr. And Bob, the golden, confident guy, was exactly right for it."

In Foote's play, Reeves is a convict bent on revenge against the sheriff who locked him up. Lillian h.e.l.lman softened him, and Penn decided to introduce a strong parallel between Reeves's fate and the killing of Lee Harvey Oswald. "It seemed natural to me," he said. "There was a fortuitous intersection of recent events in American life and elements in h.e.l.lman's script. The murderer-patsy, the Texan locale and the statewide bloodl.u.s.t hooked in my mind with the national paranoia after Dallas. I thought about how Oswald had never been legally tried, that it was the court of public opinion that got him. Then The Chase The Chase became a commentary on our gun culture. Reeves is someone who's been abused and fallen off the edge of society. When he escapes from the state prison farm and a man is accidentally killed, the small-town community that bred him wants him dead because he's the target for their life rage. That became very poignant to me." h.e.l.lman's final script disappointed Penn, however, "because it seemed more obsessed with the fetish behavior of too many minor characters-though it was still laden with potential." became a commentary on our gun culture. Reeves is someone who's been abused and fallen off the edge of society. When he escapes from the state prison farm and a man is accidentally killed, the small-town community that bred him wants him dead because he's the target for their life rage. That became very poignant to me." h.e.l.lman's final script disappointed Penn, however, "because it seemed more obsessed with the fetish behavior of too many minor characters-though it was still laden with potential."

Jane Fonda, cast as Bubber's wife, Anna, was curious about Redford and keen to work with him. She was a year younger than he, and her own relations.h.i.+p with acting had been b.u.mpy. She had reluctantly tried it at Va.s.sar before deciding, like Redford, instead to study art in Paris. The pa.s.sion to act finally took hold when she played alongside her father in a production of The Country Girl The Country Girl in his hometown, Omaha. She was still, she says today, "pathologically hesitant," until Lee Strasberg persuaded her into the Actors Studio and onto Broadway in a couple of so-so plays. Henry Fonda's friends.h.i.+p with Josh Logan led to her being cast in the movie version of in his hometown, Omaha. She was still, she says today, "pathologically hesitant," until Lee Strasberg persuaded her into the Actors Studio and onto Broadway in a couple of so-so plays. Henry Fonda's friends.h.i.+p with Josh Logan led to her being cast in the movie version of Tall Story, Tall Story, her debut, but it took another few movies, among them her debut, but it took another few movies, among them Sunday in New York, Sunday in New York, before Stanley Kauffman in before Stanley Kauffman in The New Republic The New Republic was acknowledging her skill and "the hum of magnetism

Robert Redford Part 4

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