Monthly Inspiration: Robert Redford
I was talking with a group of people recently about our inspirations. Everyone agreed upon most of the usual suspects (Tarantino, Scorsese, Kubrik, etc), but somebody in the group brought up Robert Redford (imdb.com).
Redford is an actor, director, and producer. I grew up watching him in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (imdb.com), Jeremiah Johnson (imdb.com), and The Sting (imdb.com); and the direction in The Horse Whisperer (imdb.com) and The Legend of Bagger Vance (imdb.com) are truly stunning. But, with all his 54 years of experience in this industry, what I find most inspirational is his attitude.
A few years ago I saw him speak at the San Francisco International Film Festival and it was one of the turning points in my career. Up to that point I had wanted to move into the camera department, but hadn’t committed to it yet. Is openness about his own career and about following your true passions is a big reason why I made the leap.
The other reason seeing him speak was so amazing was because of his reaction to the students in the audience. I’m a big proponent to the “sharing knowledge” trend that is happening within the industry now; and Redford was more than happy to answer questions from up-and-coming filmmakers. While many well known actors and directors may scoff at the newbies, his attitude was right on track to propel people (such as myself) into a career in film.
Robert Redford’s acting career spans over 5 decades, and every genre and style you can think of. He’s one of the most versatile actors I can think of. His acting credentials are littered with some of the biggest films of every flavor. Whether if it’s westerns (Jeremiah Johnson, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid), sports (The Natural (imdb.com)), war drama (A Bridge Too Far (imdb.com)), or even romance (Up Close and Personal (imdb.com)) Redford constantly delivers solid performances.
While his directing career isn’t as long as his acting career, it’s just as awe inspiring. He’s worked with some of the best actors of all time, on some of the most life altering films. He started with Ordinary People (imdb.com) in 1980, and it scored him Best Director at the 81′ Oscars. From there he went on to work with Brad Pitt (imdb.com) on A River Runs Through It (imdb.com) in 1992. He’s worked with Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep (Lions for Lambs) (imdb.com); Matt Damon, Will Smith, and Charlize Theron (The Legend of Bagger Vance); and with Shia LaBeouf (The Company You Keep)(imdb.com). His directorial repertoire is just as diverse as his acting, and winning best director your first time out is nothing short of an inspiration.
It might be needless to say, but I’m a big fan of Robert Redford. But, my enjoyment of him as an actor and director goes beyond just fandom. I remember watching The Legend of Bagger Vance over and over in high school; and it was the first film that I looked at shot-for-shot in film school. The way he tells stories is riveting and his acting skill is legendary, combined with his openness and positive attitude to newbies in the business is what makes him an inspiration for me. I can only hope to have half the career he has.