Robert Red­ford’s go­ing out in style as a craggy crim.

Total Film - - Contents -

Ac­tors don’t al­ways get to an­nounce their re­tire­ment. Of­ten, the in­dus­try sim­ply stops cast­ing them. But not Robert Red­ford. This year, the Sun­dance Kid an­nounced that The Old Man And The Gun would likely be his last movie. “As a fan, I hope that it’s not the fi­nal film he does,” says Old Man’s writer-di­rec­tor David Low­ery. “But if it is, as a film­maker, I con­sider it a tremen­dous hon­our that he loves the movie enough to feel that it’s a fit­ting note to go out on.”

Telling the story of real-life peren­nial bank rob­ber For­rest Tucker, the film comes across like an homage to Red­ford’s il­lus­tri­ous ca­reer, with the ac­tor car­ry­ing 60-odd years of cin­e­matic bag­gage. “Just by virtue of him ap­pear­ing in the film, you wind up hav­ing a film that is about the ac­tor Robert Red­ford,” says Low­ery. “Rather than try to hide from it… I thought the nat­u­ral thing to do was just let that be part of the film. It didn’t take any ex­tra ef­fort on my part. It was just a mat­ter of em­brac­ing it.”

No­tably, Low­ery does so in the bravura mon­tage that shows how the Florida-raised Tucker es­caped from

prison mul­ti­ple times. Some were based on re­al­ity. Oth­ers were nods to fa­mous movie mo­ments in films like Es­cape From Al­ca­traz. And then one was a clip from Red­ford’s early 1965 ef­fort The Chase, in which he played a con­vict on the lam. “It sud­denly be­came not just about For­rest Tucker and how bril­liantly he broke out of prison so many times, but also about Robert Red­ford and his ca­reer as a movie star and out­law on the sil­ver screen.”

While Low­ery and Red­ford pre­vi­ously worked to­gether on the 2016 Dis­ney re­make Pete’s Dragon, that was a mere test run, al­low­ing the film­maker “to get over all the but­ter­flies in my stom­ach”. With Tom Waits and Danny Glover cast as Tucker’s co­horts, Low­ery brought in Sissy Spacek to play Jewel, a farm widow who of­fers the age­ing rob­ber a law-abid­ing life. Re­mark­ably, Red­ford had never worked with – or even re­ally met – the Bad­lands star. “I thought that was in­sane. They feel like they’re cut from the same cloth.”

When it came to Tucker, Low­ery was drawn to de­pict­ing a self­mythol­o­gis­ing “gen­tle­man” crim­i­nal who did most of his steal­ing with­out the aid of a gun or vi­o­lence. “He re­ally wanted a movie to be made of his life.” Tucker even sent his life story to Clint East­wood when he was in prison, be­fore he died in 2004 in Texas. So how would he have felt about Red­ford play­ing him? “He would’ve been thrilled,” beams Low­ery. “He would’ve ig­nored all the lib­er­ties I took with his story!”


FI­NAL WORD Robert Red­ford plays bank rob­ber For­rest Tucker, in what might be his last film role.

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