Maybe you know him from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, or maybe you’re a bit younger and know him from Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Regardless, Robert Redford has long been one of the most accomplished stars of Hollywood. Whether it was film, television, or theater, Redford’s acting has gained a large audience, but he’s always been far more than just an actor.
He has produced and directed a number of classics, as well as kickstarting various independent filmmakers’ careers. If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about Redford (or if you’re Redford himself and you want to enjoy a victory lap by reading about yourself), continue scrolling to find out more!
1. Three Notches on Your Belt
As of May 2019, Redford has acted in two films which won the Academy Award for Best Picture (The Sting and Out of Africa) and directed another one (Ordinary People).
2. Teach a Man to Fish…
Most actors have stories about the dodgy ways they were initially paid (or not paid at all) for their first gigs. In Redford’s case, his first professional acting job was an appearance on a game show. Incredibly, he was never given his $75 acting fee, and was instead compensated with an expensive fishing rod. This makes us wonder if this inspired him to direct A River Runs Through It years later!
3. Is That Ironic? Or Just a Coincidence?
When Redford was 13 years old, he won an award for athletics, and the prize was presented to him by none other than Richard Nixon. Nixon, of course, would go on to be the Vice President of the United States, and later its President. Redford went on to star in the film All the President’s Men, which followed the work of two journalists to expose the corruption of the Nixon Administration, resulting in Nixon’s resignation as President.
4. A Star is Born
Redford was born on August 18, 1936, in Santa Monica, California.
5. We’ll Go Far
During his studies at Van Nuys High School, Redford was classmates with a young man named Don Drysdale. Sports fans might recognize that name; he was a pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers and later became a sports commentator.
6. Fair Play
Redford was known to do many of his own stunts on film sets, but if stuntmen were hired with the production, he insisted that they would continue to be paid, no matter how many of his own stunts he did.
7. Why Learn to be Right-Handed?
Speaking of stunt work, Redford did all of his own rodeo stunts on the film The Electric Horseman. Not only that, Redford is left-handed, but went through the trouble to portray his character as right-handed. He’s actually had to do this several times in his film career, a recent example being the film All is Lost.
8. For Film Hipsters
Redford is responsible for the Sundance Film Festival (named after one of his most famous characters). Founded in 1978 by Sterling Van Wagenen, the head of Redford’s production company, the festival is aimed towards screening and promoting independent films, as well as the people behind said films. Today, Sundance is the biggest independent film festival in the US.
9. What Took So Long?
It’s safe to say that The Sting was one of the most lauded and successful films of Redford’s career. However, of all the people who saw it since it was first released in 1973, Redford himself allegedly didn’t see the film until 2004!
10. Worthy of a Time Capsule
Three of the films featuring Redford as an actor were chosen by the Library of Congress to be preserved in the National Film Registry for the reason that they were “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” These films were Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the President’s Men, and The Sting.
11. Wife and Kids
In 1958, Redford married his college sweetheart, Lola Van Wagenen. The couple had four children together but would eventually divorce in 1985.
12. Long Time No See
In the late 1990s, Redford cast a young actress named Scarlet Johansson in The Horse Whisperer. The two of them would reunite many years later to work on Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
13. Property Value
In 1960, a near-penniless Redford spent $500 of his savings on two acres of land in Utah. As time went on, this little plot of land grew to more than 5,000 acres in size. This became the location of Redford’s Sundance Institute.
14. Paying Dues
After making his reputation with theater work in the 1950s, Redford transitioned to television and film beginning in 1960. Among the various television programs in which Redford appeared were Maverick, The Untouchables, Perry Mason, Playhouse 90, and The Twilight Zone.
15. A Bit Overcrowded, Aren’t We?
One of Redford’s latest acting credits is All is Lost. The film follows a sailor stuck at sea trying to brave the odds for survival. Rare in American film history, All is Lost features just one actor and minimal dialogue, yet it still had 11 executive producers and six other producers!
16. Side by Side with a Friend
One of Redford’s best friends in the film industry was actor/director Sydney Pollack. After the two men both appeared in the 1962 film War Hunt, Redford would act in seven films that Pollack directed. For anyone curious, they were Out of Africa, Three Days of the Condor, Havana, This Property is Condemned, The Way We Were, The Electric Horseman, and Out of Africa.