Screen legend Robert Redford announces he’s retiring from acting at 81

Robert Redford, the screen legend and Oscar winner, has announced that he’s retiring from acting at the grand old age of 81, with upcoming movie “The Old Man & The Gun” his last gig in front of the camera.

The actor, director and founder of the Sundance Institute and its film festival, began his career on stage 60 years ago, before moving into television and film, and eventually into directing.

“Never say never, but I pretty well concluded that this would be it for me in terms of acting,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “(I’ll) move toward retirement after this ’cause I’ve been doing it since I was 21,” he said.

“I thought, well, that’s enough. And why not go out with something that’s very upbeat and positive?”

His publicist Cindi Berger confirmed the article was accurate.

When asked if his prospective retirement would extend to directing, his agent did not elaborate. “We’ll see about that,” Redford told Entertainment Weekly.

He had indicated to his grandson in a 2016 interview that his roles in “Our Souls at Night” opposite Jane Fonda and “Old Man & The Gun” would be his last.

“I’m going to say, ‘Okay, that’s goodbye to all that,’ and then just focus on directing,” he said.

“The Old Man & The Gun” sees the California native play Forrest Tucker, the real-life bank robber whose criminal career and multiple escapes from prison spanned more than 60 years.

Bittersweet

“That was a wonderful character to play at this point in my life,” Redford told Entertainment Weekly.

The film, set for release in the United States on September 28, also stars Oscar winners Sissy Spacek and Casey Affleck.

Director David Lowery told Empire magazine that he felt the “weight” of directing Redford in his final screen role.

“I think the movie is as much about (Redford) as it is about this character. It’s about someone in the twilight of their life, doing something they love,” Lowery said.

“There’s an inevitability to the character that is impossible to separate from Mr Redford himself, and an inherently bittersweet quality.”

Born Charles Robert Redford, Jr. on August 18, 1936, in Santa Monica, California, he was the son of an accountant. His mother died in 1955, a year after he finished high school.

He went to the University of Colorado, but dropped out a year later and subsequently moved to Europe to study art in Paris and in Italy, a formative experience that transformed his political and social awareness.

After returning to the United States, he moved to New York, where he enrolled at the American Academy of Dramatic Art and made his debut as a stage actor.

After a variety of television roles, he moved on to the silver screen, where he found success with romantic comedy “Barefoot In The Park” opposite Fonda, before his major breakthrough in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” in 1969.

Sundance

Subsequent hits as an actor came in “The Sting” (1973), which won him an Oscar nomination, “The Great Gatsby” the following year, “Three Days of the Condor” (1975) and the critically acclaimed “All the President’s Men” (1976) — his sun-kissed all-American good looks turning him into a household name.

Other major acting credits were baseball classic “The Natural” and epic romance “Out of Africa” (1985) alongside Meryl Streep that won seven Oscars, including best picture.

In 1981, he won an Academy Award for his directorial debut on “Ordinary People” and has a string of other directing credits, including “A River Runs Through It,” in which he starred alongside a young Brad Pitt, and “Quiz Show.”

He founded the Sundance Institute in Utah for aspiring filmmakers, disaffected with Hollywood’s commercialism and lack of diversity.

The annual Sundance Film Festival is one of the most influential in the world and has fostered more than a generation of independent directors.

Despite his fame, Redford steers clears of many award shows and public film festivals, and is a passionate conservationist and environmentalist.

In 2002, he won an honorary Oscar as an actor, director, producer and creator of Sundance. To date, he has also won six Golden Globes and one BAFTA.

In 2016, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian award.

He married his first wife, Lola Van Wagenen, in 1958. They had four children, one of whom died as an infant. They divorced in 1985 and he married his second wife, German artist and longtime girlfriend Sibylle Szaggars in 2009.

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