Just Did It: The Way We Were and Robert Redford at BAM

When Katie Morosky Gardner says to Hubbell Gardner, “Wouldn’t it be lovely if we were old? We’d have survived all this. Everything thing would be easy and uncomplicated; the way it was when we were young,” you sort of agree with her because you just want “The Way We Were’s” gorgeously scripted and portrayed couple to make it.  But then, we wouldn’t have memories and a challenge, and Carrie wouldn’t have a scene to act out on the steps of The Plaza when Mr. Big has just become Mr. Big…and married.   (On this viewing, I even thought one of my favorite “Almost Famous” lines – when Penny Lane asks sweetly what kind of beer her rock star lover Russell Hammond sold her for – was inspired by Hubbell’s “What kind of pie” line.)

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We were lucky enough to watch “The Way We Were” on the big screen for the first time.  But, we were even luckier to walk over to BAM’s Harvey Theater for an “Inside the Actor’s Studio”-type Q&A with Mr. Redford himself.  On our way there, we spotted him getting out of his car and it was shocking how grandpa-ish and stiff he looked.  Autumn’s spin?  “Maybe it was just a long car ride.”  It made us sad, but seeing him on stage from a bit of a distance quelled our fears.

Redford (aka “The Man Who Does Not Engage,” per Sydney Pollack) was sharp and a great storyteller.  I learned:

  • He’s wary of anything remotely artificial.  In fact, he used that word various times throughout the night to describe everything from his first impressions of Hollywood to quiz shows.
  • His first paying TV job was on…a quiz show.  It was Merv Griffin’s “Play Your Hunch,” where they asked him to fudge the truth, hide behind the screen and get booed by the audience.
  • How he spent his first big paycheck:  “I ate!”
  • Steve McQueen and Warren Beatty were slated to play Sundance.  In fact, Paul Newman was slated to play Sundance and the original title was “The Sundance Kid and Butch Cassidy,” but when Redford prevailed the universe was sorted.
  • He went to high school with Natalie Wood, who he didn’t know until they made movies together because she was already making movies in high school.
  • He was responsible for adding Hubbell’s character flaw – “he would never be able to deliver on what he appeared to be” – to the script, avoiding a “Ken Doll” role.
  • About Paul Newman he said:  “He created a life that mattered.”

Unfortunately, our audience questions didn’t get picked from the pile so, Mr. Redford, if you’re reading, maybe you can address:

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Posted by: Mariela

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One response to “Just Did It: The Way We Were and Robert Redford at BAM

  1. Thanks for this recap. I had really wanted to see this on the big screen but couldn’t make it.

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