Robert Redford, known to most of the world as The Sundance Kid, after his role in the famous movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, is having a difficult time retiring from the Hollywood scene. However, this blond icon of the 70’s has an underlying current in his soul for a more peaceful existence in a more pristine natural surrounding. As much as he has tried to divert his life into more environmental and philanthropist activities, Hollywood seems to pull him away from what he loves most and into what he has called “a cage.” Staying active in life has always been his philosophy, so now Redford finds himself again an actor for hire in the new movie A Walk in the Woods, an adaptation of Bill Bryson’s book about walking the Appalachian Trail.
The Kid found it difficult to resist when the role he was offered was about a couple of old guys who set off to find something different in life to experience. In the movie, these two old fellows take off walking into the woods somewhat unprepared. Redford himself tells of his lingering angst for more freedom and opportunity to experience life more in harmony with nature; this role is far too tempting for the blue-eyed icon to resist when he has always loved acting.
Because he immensely enjoys the outdoors, this once wild young man and rugged blonde cowboy found himself in the beautiful woods of Mount Timpanogos, the highest peak in the Wasatch in Utah. He fell in love with the natural setting of the 12,000-foot mountain on the east of Provo Utah and attempts to resist his then New York call to duty as a stage actor. Back in 1961, this college drop-out with a passion for art and the beauty of the outdoors spent $500 and bought his first two acres of what now has become Sundance Resort, named after the role that made him famous. Now Redford can snow ski and again take all the walks in the woods he wants in a place he calls home where he rides his horse for hours at a time. “That part of my life started here. Here is my real home,” he shared with Esquire.
After his fame from the role that stared out to be Paul Newman’s, the Sundance Kid felt a tremendous change in his life. Of this he said:”It was such an enormous shift in my life. Literally overnight, there was no longer any privacy.” The cabin he has in the woods of Utah soon became his retreat. Redford escapes the confinement that robs him of his privacy by enjoying the powerful essence of nature at Mount Timpanogos. In 1981 he established the Sundance Institute in Utah and began the largest film festival in the United States and one of the largest in the world. Robert was active now.
Since Redford holds dear to his heart the promotion of balance of art, nature, and outdoor recreation, he holds an active role in environmentalism and Native American rights. At the United Nations, on June 29 of this year, he gave a speech to climate ministers where he called for urgent action on climate change.
When asked about his acting, the Kid said: “It’s taken me farther away from what I love — to be the artist at work.” But the truth is closer to the fact that Redford loves to ride his horses and be again walking in the woods where he freely inhales the freshness of nature into his aging lungs and feels the invigorating power though the whole of his being.
By Jeanette O’Donnal
The Wall Street Journal: Robert Redford: From Sundance Kid to Hollywood Legend
Men’s Journal: Robert Redford The Sundance Kid Rides Again
Esquire: Free At Last The Robert Redford Story
Natural Resources Deffence Council: Environmental News-Media Center Press Release