OLD SALT

Robert Red­ford on movies (he doesn’t watch them), mor­tal­ity (he’s faced it) and em­brac­ing a life­long fear of the ocean

The Weekend Australian - Review - - FRONT PAGE -

Robert Red­ford no longer cares about in­dus­try awards. In fact the ac­tor, whose lat­est film is an all but silent af­fair about a sailor tak­ing on the el­e­ments, doesn’t even go to the movies. But, as the 77-year-old tells El­iz­a­beth El­iz­a­beth Ken­mare, Ken­mare, his star turn in di­rec­tor JC Chan­dor’s All All is is Lost Lost has forced him to pon­der the vi­cis­si­tudes of his own life, in­clud­ing the time seven years ago he faced his own mor­tal­ity in a faulty plane

ALL is Lost is a philo­soph­i­cal en­ter­prise. Through one lit­tle story, you have this idea that men can never just fight na­ture.

I think it’s the ef­fort of try­ing to com­bat the power of na­ture, and there’s noth­ing stronger than na­ture. But it’s pretty in­ter­est­ing to see an in­di­vid­ual, and it’s not like he is look­ing for a storm, as he gets caught in na­ture’s be­hav­iour. The real story is what he does to sur­vive it. But I don’t think it’s philo­soph­i­cal.

Do you ap­proach your roles these days a method ac­tor?

I prob­a­bly re­sist de­scrip­tions like method, but I don’t think you can say this par­tic­u­lar film is de­prived of ev­ery­thing. First of all there is some di­a­logue, there’s very lit­tle, but you can’t say there’s no di­a­logue. You can’t say there’s no in­for­ma­tion about who the man is be­cause there’s a lit­tle in­for­ma­tion. That’s one of the things I re­ally loved about this piece, be­cause JC (Chan­dor) wrote a film that he un­der­stood com­pletely. He un­der­stood from his own ex­pe­ri­ence and his own knowl­edge and skill what sail­ing was about, so he could cre­ate de­tails within it that would have their own dra­matic value, but be­cause it didn’t have too much in­for­ma­tion, and be­cause it didn’t have di­a­logue, for me I en­joyed that be­cause it cre­ated a chal­lenge to be more fully in the char­ac­ter. The busi­ness has changed so much. You all go to movies, and you see that most of the movies are full of ac­tion, full of spe­cial ef­fects, so this was more pure.

Sharks are a fright­en­ing pres­ence in the film. Do you fear them?

Yeah, and be­ing alone. Wa­ter is so pow­er­ful, lots of people are afraid. I think when you put them all to­gether, there are a cou­ple of mo­ments as the char­ac­ter that I like be­cause you could al­low the au­di­ence to imag­ine how you might feel, and that is when he wasn’t fight­ing some­thing, when he wasn’t fight­ing a storm or hav­ing to take care of busi­ness. There are just a few mo­ments in the piece where he just looks out, and he con­tem­plates what’s there. You get this vast ex­pe­ri­ence of what is un­der­neath him in a small boat, it’s miles and miles of deep wa­ter, and I would hope that an au­di­ence feels that sense of alone­ness.

What scares you in ev­ery­day life?

The sea. You get out on that open wa­ter and you imag­ine, scuba div­ing, I have done that, that’s fine, you go all the way out in the mid­dle of the ocean, like the In­dian Ocean, and you are in the mid­dle of nowhere. And you have got miles of wa­ter un­der­neath you, and miles of dis­tance out in front of you, and you are alone on a small boat, it takes some­thing out of you. And in real life, I have been lost.

In the sea?

No, I have been lost in the moun­tains. But I have been lost in my life, I have lost my sense of things, I lost my bear­ings, I lost my bal­ance on how to think about cer­tain things, but never on the sea, and I think when you asked that ques­tion, and I find that it is re­ally fright­en­ing to be in a sit­u­a­tion like this char­ac­ter is, but I would never do it. JC has been through some­thing sim­i­lar.

The movie starts with your char­ac­ter apol­o­gis­ing, a very pow­er­ful se­quence. What back­story did you imag­ine for this char­ac­ter?

I didn’t imag­ine any­thing more than was there. Just say­ing ``I am sorry’’, that al­lows you to imag­ine there’s a fam­ily in­volved, imag­ine that he is not a hor­ri­ble per­son, he didn’t mur­der any­body, at least I don’t think he did. But he failed at some­thing and maybe this jour­ney he is on is his way of be­ing com­pletely with him­self to find out if he should do some­thing, and that’s all I had, but that was enough for me.

Why did you choose this movie? Did it fit in any theme in your ca­reer, in your life, like na­ture?

Yeah, I think so. This film sat­is­fied a lot of things for me. One of them was about that point when all seems lost. Some people quit. They say, what’s the point? But oth­ers just keep go­ing. I find that a re­ally in­ter­est­ing point in life.

How do you know in your life when to hold on to some­thing and when to let it go?

God, I don’t know. That’s a great ques­tion, but it al­most gets to be ex­is­ten­tial in it­self; in Or­di­nary People, one hangs on, the other doesn’t. It de­pends on the cir­cum­stances and what you are hold­ing on to, it’s what you want to hold on to and what you don’t.

Your char­ac­ter in this film faces some chal­lenges. Do you know where he finds his strength to go on? And where do you find your strength to go on and do things in life?

Well maybe it’s an ef­fort that the man makes to keep from los­ing his mind; if he screams, if he re­ally keeps scream­ing, he will prob­a­bly go off his mind and then he can’t func­tion. You know, when you get re­ally, re­ally fright­ened, your

Robert Red­ford in scenes from his new ocean drama film

All is Lost

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