Well, 2008 had its share of sad moments, none sadder than the passing of legendary actor and director Robert Redford. Redford was a class act and a true gentleman. He will be missed. On a personal note, Redford was one of my favorite actors. When I heard of his passing, it was an emotional moment for me.
While he was in Hollywood classics such as The Natural, All the President’s Men, and The Candidate, it was his work with fellow screen legend Paul Newman in The Sting as well as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid that he was best known for. There was something about the two of them together that ignited a spark. They just clicked. Some may say that George Clooney and Brad Pitt are a modern day Newman and Redford; I’d say that no one will ever be able to duplicate the magic created by Butch and Sundance.
I would argue that losing a national treasure like Redford is one of the biggest stories of the year, which is why I decided to include a piece on him for my year-end retrospective. Earlier today I made a phone call over to Redford’s estate to get a quote about one of my heroes from a publicist, lawyer, or family member. I needed to talk to someone about this virtuoso, this genius, and I didn’t care who it was:
MIKE: Hello, my name is Mike. I was wondering if I could trouble you and ask you a few questions about Robert?
ROBERT: This is Robert. How can I help you?
MIKE: Oh, hello, Robert. What a coincidence that I would get someone with the same….anyway: I just want to let you know that Robert Redford was one of my heroes, and he inspired me as an artist.
ROBERT: Oh, well, thank you. That’s very kind of you to say.
MIKE: Of course. I also wanted to say that the work of Robert Redford should be shown to prospective actors and actresses everywhere attempting to ply their craft.
ROBERT: Again, that’s very kind of you. It’s very flattering, but I like to think of myself much like any other actor. I’m just doing my job, punching in like everybody else.
MIKE: That’s nice, Robert, but with all due respect, I’m sure you’re no Robert Redford when it comes to acting. What are you doing, community theater? You doing CashPoint commercials, trying to get your big break?
ROBERT: What? I think you’re confused –
MIKE: Where was he buried?
MIKE: Robert Redford. The famous actor who died this year.
ROBERT: Okay….are you on drugs?
MIKE: You know what, Robert? I am trying to write a heartfelt piece on the passing of one of my heroes, and you’re making it very difficult to do that. All I need to know is where Robert Redford had his funeral, and what did he die from?
ROBERT: I AM Robert Redford, you fucking asshole. I’m still alive.
MIKE: What? No you aren’t! You’re dead! You died a couple months ago. Right? Didn’t you?
MIKE: Oh man….wow. I am so sorry and yet at the same time, glad to hear you’re okay.
ROBERT: Well, no hard feelings.
MIKE: Sorry to fly off the handle there. I was nervous because I got Paul Newman’s number, and I was supposed to call him after you to ask him about your work together. Still think I’m going to call him, though. Any tips on what I should ask him?
ROBERT: *dial tone*
MIKE: Hello? Mr. Redford? Bobby?
Check back here tomorrow as I take a look back at the life of another actor who tragically died this past year, Jake Gyllenhaal.