TODAY   |  October 15, 2013

Robert Redford: My new film is ‘pure cinema’

The legendary actor and director tells TODAY about his new film, “All Is Lost,” in which he plays a nameless man who gets lost at sea, and explains how he’s managed to stay centered in an industry that tends to objectify movie stars.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> redford. he is an actor known for classic rolls in butch cassidy and the sun dance kid and all the president's men and won an oscar for directing ordinary people . his newest movie is an adventure at sea featuring redford as a single nameless and nearly wordless character. take a look.

>>> robert redford , good morning, nice to have you here.

>> hi, matt.

>> when's the last time you excepted a roll in a movie that had a script of 30 pages?

>> this year.

>> very little dialogue and the good news is you don't have a lot to memorize. the challenging part is this is all you. it's you on screen alone, in silence, tight shots of your face. what were the challenges?

>> yeah, i'm surprise the audience still stayed.

>> it's incredibly compelling. what i loved about the story is for all the years you have been doing sun dance , the film festival , all the up and coming and aspiring film makers you've been around, this is the first time that one of them actually said mr. redford , would you be in my movie.

>> that's right. he didn't call me mr. redford but he said would you be in my movie and i thought, well, that's interesting. all the people i supported over the years, nobody has ever come forward and asked me to be in the film. i would have taken it just because he asked.

>> why do you think that is? do you think it's like the pretty girl in high school everybody assumes she is already going to the prom or too busy to say yes.

>> no, i never related to the pretty girl in high school .

>> come on. really? that wasn't in your frame of reference at all?

>> not my frame of reference.

>> this character is nameless. the audience never learned his name and we don't know really anything except a little of a letter in the beginning or comments made about his back story. so as an actor i was always told that's what you need to get your arms around a character. to know a little bit. what did you cling to?

>> i loved it. i loved it because to me it was more pure cinema . it wasn't reliant on specific effects or digital. it wasn't going to be heavy in postproduction. it was just pure. i love that. as an actor i like the idea of there not being any interference between you and the experience of the audience. dialogue, voice overs, things like that. that was rare and for me it was extremely attractive. i was drawn to that. i loved it.

>> i was read a little bit about your other reasons for taking it. you like these situations, robert, when incredible circumstances strike someone and it gets so dyer that a lot of people would simply quit yet some people don't. they percesevere.

>> you hit it. at what point do you keep going when others would have stopped. when the odds are impossible and you say i can't go any further so i won't and then other people just keep going than for no other reason than just to continue and that's always fascinated me.

>> you are getting a lot of great reviews for this movie. let me read you something. i'll embarrass you.

>> i'm already embarrassed.

>> a film critic wrote "all is lost" is amazing, deeply moving, and harking back to an age when the best mainstream films might be the best pictures america made. it's an adventure and an epic with one person, robert redford . do you like reading things like that?

>> no.

>> why?

>> they're embarrassing.

>> you don't have a big ego after all of these years?

>> well, i must or i wouldn't be in this business. but there's areas that i stay away from them. that's one of them.

>> let me embarrass you again then.

>> you're doing great.

>> thank you. there was a time when if you asked people in this country to write a list of sex symbols and you say give me three choices you would have fallen at the top of every single list written. what was that time like for you as an actor and a person?

>> you know, i'll tell you what it was like. i got really nervous early on when there was overreaction to something i had done, something i wasn't expecting and i got really nervous about what my life would be if i played into that. so i put three signs up for myself about the word object. one was you're being treated like an object. that's the first stage and the second stage is if you aren't careful you'll start to behave like an object and the third and final stage is you will become an object. so those were my cautionary tale. avoid that. don't look back. don't look in your rear-view mirror or career as anything that gained momentum overtime. just focus on the future and don't look back.

>> when you do look at your career now without looking back too much and you look at an oscar for ordinary people and a lifetime achievement oscar and no individual acting oscar and people are saying this movie might be the movie, would it be important to you?

>> not necessarily. awards don't come into my mind. they never have. i'm surprised when they come but that's not what is on my mind. i always liked the climb up. that's the exciting part. not standing necessarily on the top.

>> well, i had a chance to watch this last night and the performance is extraordinary.

>> did you stay with it? you're a sailer, right?

>> i'm not a sailer but i have a boat and i found myself thinking a lot about the solitude and putting myself in your characters position. it's incredible. nice to see you.

>> nice to see you.

>> come back and see us.