HAS Robert Redford found the perfect film to round off his acting career?
After iconic outlaw roles in classics such as Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, as well as The Sting, the Hollywood veteran is back as disarmingly genteel bank robber Forrest Tucker in The Old Man & The Gun.
It’s a breezy crime caper and will leave audiences with a smile on their faces, much as the real Tucker left bank tellers.
“It’s just about getting away with something. And also putting a smile on the whole thing. The guy’s having such a good time. Let’s enjoy ourselves. He wants the people he’s robbing to enjoy it, too,” says Redford.
“It was a great role and just a fun character. And the fact is that it’s so bizarre but also a true story that doesn’t seem like it could possibly be true.
“I’ve always been attracted to the idea of outlaws, from the time I was a kid, and played that out in my work a lot.”
In the summer Redford said this would be his last film but now says: “I shouldn’t have said anything about retiring. I said, ‘Never say never’ but on the other hand I think I’ve done it long enough.
“I want to move on now into directing and producing. You don’t want to overstay your time.
“Also this picture was very upbeat and I thought it was time for me to do a project that was more upbeat.
“The last film I’d done, Our Souls At Night, was a lovely experience with Jane Fonda but it was a heavy lift, a very dramatic love story.
“It was pretty sad and this felt like a nice step in a different direction, so the idea of this probably being the last thing I’m acting in just felt very right because I could have fun, enjoy myself.
“I hope this puts a smile on people’s faces. We could use it.”
The film’s director David Lowery says: “It’s not a literal sequel to some of the films where Robert played an outlaw before, but in a spiritual way it feels like a successor to those films in that it almost captures the spirit of those characters at a later stage in life.
“I feel like this movie does work as a bookend to his career.”
If this is Redford’s last film it’s very fitting as he and his character share an uncompromising insistence on keeping doing something you know you’re good at, despite signs you should quit.
Tucker first went to jail for car theft aged 15 and was still robbing banks in his 70s while Redford began acting in his 20s and is now 82.
One of his first TV outings was in a 1960 episode of Perry Mason and he says: “I was lucky to get a role in it and things went uphill from there.
“You have to get used to setbacks, rejections and all that kind of stuff. That comes with the territory. Casting director Marion Dougherty talked Sidney Lumet into giving me a role in The Iceman Cometh.
“Lumet didn’t want me. ‘No, he looks like a beach bum from California.’ He just wasn’t having it but Marion sat there and said, ‘Trust me.’”
Sissy Spacek plays Redford’s love interest in the new film and says: “We went to a diner, we sat and ate pie, he drew me pictures and we flirted and it was easy!”
The Old Man & The Gun (12A) is in cinemas from Friday December 7.