Entertainment

Robert Redford on why it would ‘never work’ with Barbra Streisand

Tonight Robert Redford stars opposite Nick Nolte and Emma Thompson in the 2015 adventure film A Walk in the Woods, airing from 6:55pm on Film4. Follow the true story of American travel writer Bill Bryson, who decides to go on a journey of introspection and hikes the Appalachian Trail. On his travels, Bryson is joined by Stephen Katz, one of his oldest and dearest friends.

Redford, who takes on the role of Bryson, was active during the production of A Walk in the Woods, acting as a producer.

The 86-year-old has made a habit of engaging with the other side of the filmmaking process, often taking on the roles of both director and actor, including in 1980’s Ordinary People, which saw him claim an Oscar for Best Director.

With such involvement, Redford has often not been wrong in expressing his opinion about the cast and other Hollywood stars. Nowhere was this clearer than during the production of the 1973 romantic drama The Way We Were, where he had a few choice words about his co-star Barbra Streisand.

He said he felt Streisand had a reputation for being “controlling” and as such questioned whether they would be compatible together on screen. It’s a clash that’s explored in Robert Hofler’s upcoming book The Way They Were: How Epic Battles and Bruised Egos Brought a Classic Hollywood Love Story to the Screen.

According to the book, Redford told the film’s director Sydney Pollack, “She’ll run herself. It’ll never work.”

He was also concerned about Streisand’s musical background, expressing doubt as to whether musical numbers can be included in the film: “She’s not going to sing, is she? I [don’t] I want him to sing in the middle of the movie.”

Pollack, who won the 1985 Academy Award for Best Director for Out of Africa, also questioned his actress, reportedly stating that he had “never worked with a really strong leading man.”

He continued, “She has a tendency to take over an image, just because of the size of her talent and her larger-than-life presence. It’s hard for a co-star to stay in the same ring with her.”

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But Pollack argued that Redford would be the only star capable of handling Streisand, herself an Oscar winner, adding: “In acting, you have to feel like there’s a reserve somewhere, that you’re seeing the tip of the iceberg.

“Redford makes you come to him like an artist. He stands his ground, you either step on his turf or you don’t understand. Period. He won’t woo you… I literally spent eight months beating him to death just to get him to do it. I wouldn’t let him go.”

Following the film’s success, a sequel, tentatively titled The Way We Changed, was promoted, but Redford denied having any involvement with the film. However, he noted that Streisand had had discussions about the film.

Most recently, Streisand was back in the public eye following an interview with The Guardian, discussing her career, as well as the correct way to say her name. He pointed out that many people call her “Strei-zand” instead of the actual pronunciation of “Strei-sand”.

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She said: “It’s the funniest thing to me that people still can’t seem to get my name right,” she said. “Even today, I had to correct my new assistant.”

Meanwhile, A Walk in the Woods was originally mooted as a movie in 2005, when Redford first announced his interest in it. Among those allegedly linked to the film are directors such as Chris Columbus, Barry Levinson and Larry Charles.

Redford had originally wanted Hollywood icon Paul Newman to co-star with him, but after his death he temporarily left the project, believing he could not play the part.

However, he would later say of the project: “It will be fun. I don’t know when I’ve read a book that made me laugh so much. Plus, it’s a chance to get a glimpse of the country.” The backdrop is fantastic, if you stop to think about all the images that are possible as they go down that path.”

A Walk in the Woods airs from 6:55pm on Film4 tonight.



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