Wednesday was supposed to be Ryan Gosling Day. His new movie with Nicolas Winding Refn, the eagerly-awaited follow-up to Drive, was debuting and I was really looking forward to the press conference after the film. Last time around, we heard the endearing story about how the Canadian actor convinced the Danish director to make Drive, with a little help from REO Speedwagon. Well, there was no Ryan Gosling Day after all, because he wasn’t able to be in Cannes, on account of him shooting his own directorial debut. No worry though, because Wednesday became Robert Redford Day.
The 76-year-old actor came to Cannes in 1972 with Jeremiah Johnson, and now here he is, an Oscar-winning star, back in Cannes with All is Lost. But this time he left the directing up to another filmmaker – JC Chandor, who made Margin Call, which Redford’s Sundance Film Festival supported.
He is the only actor in the movie, playing a man lost at sea, and there are hardly any words. But he said he relished the challenge of surrendering to a director he trusted. “This film is about having none of the dialogue, the noise that is usually available as a crutch; here it’s just the weather and the elements,” he said.
Redford also said he isn’t going to be giving up acting anytime soon, even though it was good for him just to be an actor on this film and not a director as well: “I began as an actor and this role allowed me to just be an actor again. That’s how I started and I loved it – I would like to continue. I don’t want to act and direct all the time.” The funny thing he mentioned is that even though he mentors a lot of filmmakers, very few of them ask him to be in their movies. JC Chandor did – and he’s all the better for it.
Redford’s known for his outspoken voice on the environment, and, when asked for his advice on how to improve the situation at the moment, he said he’s not sure how it can be saved. But he said: “put it in your work.” He believes if you can show how things were at one time and how they’ve deteriorated, or if you can incorporate the environment into your work, then you’re able to do what you can, able to do something to help.
As for his advice to filmmakers, he said this: “Make a film that’s personal. id you can break it into three areas and tell the story with emotion, even if it’s the tiniest story in the tiniest village, it will reach people across the world because of it’s humanity.”
Later on in the evening, I was fortunate enough to walk the red carpet and attend the premiere where Redford saw the movie for the first time. The overwhelming standing ovation and his eyes welling up afterwards, as he took in the applause coming from all over the Grand Theatre Lumiere, made me happy to call Wednesday, Robert Redford Day.