Robert Redford, whose professional acting career launched over 55 years ago with a handful of high-profile theater and television guest appearances before rocketing to film success with Inside Daisy Clover and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, has revealed his intentions to retire from acting in a new interview with his grandson, Dylan, hosted at the Walker Art Center’s website.
“I’m getting tired of acting,” Redford said within the conversation. “I’m an impatient person, so it’s hard for me to sit around and do take after take after take. At this point in my life, age 80, it’d give me more satisfaction because I’m not dependent on anybody. It’s just me, just the way it used to be, and so going back to sketching—that’s sort of where my head is right now. So, I’m thinking of moving in that direction and not acting so much.”
Redford will continue to direct and champion independent voices within his Sundance Film Festival. He also has two acting projects that are still in the works — a “love story for older people who get a second chance in life” titled Our Souls at Night with Jane Fonda, and “a lighter piece with Casey Affleck and Sissy Spacek” called Old Man with a Gun. “Once they’re done then I’m going to say, ‘Okay, that’s goodbye to all that,’ and then just focus on directing,” he said.
This isn’t the first time that Robert Redford has wanted to focus on something other than acting in his life. “I started out as an artist when I was 18 or 19 years old. I wanted to get out of this country and experience different ways of seeing the world. So I went to Europe, but I went as an artist. I was increasing my skill set and exploring storytelling through painting,” he recalled. “Doing that, I realized how much I loved it. Later, when I became an actor, I suffered for four or five years not being sure I wanted to be in that business because I so wanted to be an artist. I just wanted to paint and sketch and tell stories by drawing. Then I realized: why can’t I combine the two?—which led me to be a director,” he relayed.
Ordinary People was Redford’s first venture into directing. “I didn’t know the technical language of filmmaking, so I said, ‘Okay, I’m going to do my own storyboard,’ because I had to explain to the crew and the technical people what I wanted. I knew what I wanted it to look like, so I would sit down and draw it for the cameraman or the production designer. Once I did that I realized: I’m not losing the artist side of me. I’m pulling it together with the performing side,” he explained.
The 26-film retrospective Robert Redford: Independent/Visionary spans Redford’s long career and concludes this week at the Walker Art Center.