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Robert Redford tells TODAY why he won't watch his own movies

The reason dates back to his childhood, when the actor hung out with a "rowdy" bunch of friends, the actor told TODAY's Willie Geist.
/ Source: TODAY

Robert Redford is an Academy Award-winning director and Oscar-nominated actor, but a childhood memory may be the reason he's reluctant to watch his own movies.

"When I was a kid growing up in Los Angeles, it was kind of a rough neighborhood and we were kinda rowdy bunch, and we'd go to movies and we would make fun of the movies we were watching, you know?" Redford told TODAY's Willie Geist. "I guess I must have seen myself sitting in the audience, looking at myself. And that might have been one of the reasons [I don't like watching my own movies]."

Robert Redford on TODAY
Robert Redford on TODAYTODAY

He's more than happy to keep making them, however, as he did with "A Walk in the Woods," in which he stars with Nick Nolte. Geist recently chatted with both actors about what led them on this path.

Based on the 1998 memoir with the same title, "A Walk in the Woods" is a true story about Bill Bryson (Redford) who reunites with his old buddy Stephen Katz (Nolte) 30 years after they traveled together to attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail from start to finish — almost 2,200 miles.

The original plan was for Paul Newman, Redford's "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" co-star, to play opposite him in the movie, but when Newman passed away and various directors and screenwriters dropped out, the project stalled. But Redford kept it alive.

"If you persevere, if you really believe in something strongly enough, you just keep at it until it happens," he said.

In the end, Nolte actually was "better suited" for the role, according to Redford. "I thought it would be fun to work with him 'cause I can say some things about Nick that he can't say about himself," Redford added with a laugh. "He's a good actor and he's smart and completely undisciplined."

Nolte said he jumped at the opportunity, but what he wasn't prepared was the actual hiking — made more difficult with injuries to his hip and knee.

"I did know that was going to happen. I knew [Redford] was in shape. And I thought, 'That's great. I'm not in shape,'" Nolte said with a laugh. "In fact, I was probably 50 pounds heavier."

Redford said Nolte never complained about the hiking or walking on the Appalachian Trail, which itself plays a role.

"[The trail] was meant to be a character in the film that you feel," Redford said. "If it's not a character in the film, then you don't feel what these guys are going through, you know?"

When Nolte was asked if a younger version of himself would have taken on the 2,200-mile trek, he replied, "No. LSD was enough."

Geist asked the actors what they hoped audiences would think or feel after watching "A Walk in the Woods," whose themes transcend adventure to contemplate friendship and aging. Perhaps Redford's childhood friends were on his mind when he answered.

"Well, I guess first of all, [I hope] they don't boo at the screen," he said, laughing. "[I hope] that they walk away feeling like they've seen something that isn't that available anymore on the screen."

The movie is slated for a wide theatrical release Wednesday.

Follow writer Chris Serico on Twitter.