Feature

How Redford found his niche

Robert Redford used to be a troublemaker, said Meg Grant in AARP The Magazine.

Robert Redford used to be a troublemaker, said Meg Grant in AARP The Magazine. Redford grew up as a milkman’s son on the poor side of town in Santa Monica, Calif., and from the start he didn’t much like school. “It was hard to sit and listen to somebody talk,” he says. “I wanted to be out, educated by experience and adventure.’’ His athleticism won him a baseball scholarship to the University of Colorado, but he was booted from the college for drinking too much. “There was a lot of that,” he admits.

As soon as he could save some money, he bolted to France, where he spent a year trying to become a painter. “I gained most of my maturity [in Europe],” says Redford. “They challenged me about my politics, which didn’t exist. When I went back, I questioned things.”

On his return to the U.S., he began studying drama in New York, and landed his first stage role. “Something clicked. It was the beginning of everything coming into focus for me.” Now 74, he’s quite content with his life, except when he hears someone call him a “screen legend.” “That really bothers me,” Redford says. “Does that mean I’m bronzed? It’s not over yet, folks.”

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