August 18 ~† Tricky Thing to Embrace Sundance Institute

"Success is a tricky mistress. Itís nice to have but itís a tricky thing to embrace." ~ Robert Redford

Born Charles Robert Redford Jr. on this day in Santa Monica, California, successful actor Robert Redford (1936-) was just 25 when director Mike Nichols cast him in the Broadway hit Barefoot in the Park. The film version made him a star.

"I like using my own life experiences and wisdom and I like bringing it to the screen," Redford once said.

His 1969 role as the Old West bandit in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (w/ Paul Newman) transformed Redford into an international sex symbol. By 1974, with the films The Sting, The Way We Were (w/Barbra Streisand), and The Great Gatsby, Redford was Hollywood's top male box-office star.

About fame, Redford said, "If you were me for a month you might want to change it to two weeks."

With a reputation for intelligence and integrity, Redford won an Academy Award for his first outing as a director in the family drama Ordinary People (1980). "I've found my greatest acceptance as an artist behind the camera because there, it has nothing to do with how you look," he said.

How he looks is mighty fine, wrinkles and all. "I'm not a facelift person. I am what I am," said the charismatic superstar.

A committed environmentalist and activist, in 1981 Redford founded the Sundance Institute to help support the development of independent filmmaking with grants exceeding $2.5 million.

"Storytellers broaden our minds: engage, provoke, inspire, and ultimately, connect us."

"Nobody cared about independent film when I started," he said. "Everybody thought I was nuts...and it seemed to be true." Today the annual Sundance Film Festival has become a relevant celebration of independent filmmaking.

"Independent film," he said, "has the courage to ask things."

With the Redford touch, film making thrives.

Embrace life's challenges.