“It makes me fucking nuts”

Exceptional profile of Robert Redford in Men’s Journal. The Paul Newman and Brad Pitt stuff is great, but so is Redford’s lament at what the film festival he founded has turned into:

In a way, Redford is the Charles Foster Kane of Sundance, if Charles Foster Kane were charming and benevolent, not an asshole. (The only arrogance I noticed was that my hotel room was decorated with posters from ‘Lions for Lambs’ and ‘The Conspirator,’ two of Redford’s less successful directing projects.) Walking the grounds with Bob, as everyone calls him, is to witness a cavalcade of lab participants and pilgrims coming up to thank him for letting them experience his Sundance, a particularly kind gesture from the tourists who are paying $250 a night.

Redford is patient with his supplicants, but he gets prickly about the difference between Sundance the place and Park City’s Sundance Film Festival, where you can see a great documentary and then watch a reality star climb out of a Range Rover while not wearing underpants. Redford started Sundance because the movies he wanted to see – ones with story and characters – weren’t being made in Hollywood. The only problem is he was so successful that Hollywood decided to devour his Xanadu, with premium vodka parties and assistants scouring the Park City Albertsons for Fiji water. “It makes me fucking nuts,” says Redford. He has physically distanced himself from the film festival, making only occasional cameos. “It has moved out of what I had as a comfort zone. It’s moved beyond, to where I’m uneasy about it.”

Redford talks with sadness about his wayward film child, ticking off the rise of ambush marketers and swag bags, as if it is all out of his control, a stance that Redford’s skeptics claim is evidence he sees himself as a reluctant, tragic hero – not only in his movies but also in the story of his life. Either way, Redford knew something had to give. He was in his mid-70s and in a rut that some saw as terminal. So, in 2012, he came up with a plan, simple yet counterintuitive: Robert Redford temporarily turned his back on producing, directing, and the festival, and decided to do something totally different.

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