With his five decades of consistent work in the business, few people know as much about what it takes to make it in Hollywood as Robert Redford. The actor, producer, director, environmental activist and Sundance Film Festival founder’s resume is a testament to the fact that he chooses his film projects wisely and only commits to those about which he’s most passionate, like his latest film A Walk in the Woods which has taken more than a decade to get to the big screen.
Woods is based on the book by Bill Bryson and is inspired by the author’s real-life attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail. Screen Rant recently caught up with Redford to discuss why his commitment to Woods never wavered during it’s 11-year development, how he hopes it inspires audiences to go out and explore nature and whether there is any good news in the world of environmental activism.
How did you film those hiking scenes with all the dialogue without any mishaps? I grew up in Colorado around a lot of hiking and it’s hard to walk and talk without tripping once in awhile.
First of all I went to school in Colorado, went to Boulder for awhile and I went there to be in the mountains I climbed Longs Peak, I was pretty familiar with the woods, so this was about delivering the hardship of being in the woods but also the joy of being in the woods. I had experienced both, so we wanted to put that on the screen. That was one of the ideas behind it and then of course it was a comedy with pathos attached. It was about friendship, friendship lost and then regained and so we put all those elements together it spoke to me, it really did. This feels like a film worth making. It can be uplifting and also it’s different, so it’s serving also an under served part of the audience, the older generation.
I know that it was development process, you’ve been committed to and had passion projects throughout your career, how do you decide, do you have a pile of projects to be made? When do they lose hope, how do you to decide when to keep going forward?
There have been a few films that I’ve made that took a long time to get made because there was either resistance or people felt that it was not commercial, whatever the reasons so therefore, it puts to you to persevere. If you really believe in something you have to persevere and believe in it and you can only go so long that way and then you give up or you don’t. There have been a few of those in my career where I really believed in something but this was the longest one because it started in 2004. This was the longest one to get finally to the screen because I totally believed it was a story that was uplifting, it was about something, it had all the elements that interested me as a film person, so it finally happened.
Do you hope that this motivates people to explore a little nature on their own?
I do. Nothing to be lost because it’s shrinking so fast. What’s natural out there is being overrun by development, so you better do it while it’s still there.
What’s the good news, since you’re embedded in environmental awareness?
The good news? There’s not a lot of good news because I think it goes all the way back to Manifest Destiny which is one of the characteristics of America. You can control or own what you can conquer and that had to do with land. That was okay up to a point, but we’re long past that, there are no frontiers left to conquer. Now it’s a question of, what are we going to develop for our survival, what are we going to preserve for our survival? If we don’t preserve an equal amount, there will be nothing left for future generations so I’m pretty adamant about that, that’s why I’m an environment activist.
A Walk in the Woods is directed Ken Kwapis off a screenplay by Rick Kerb and Bill Holderman and stars Robert Redford, Nick Nolte, Emma Thompson, Mary Steenburgen, Nick Offerman, and Kristen Schaal.
In this comedy adventure, Robert Redford & Nick Nolte star as old friends who make the improbable decision to hike the 2,200–mile Appalachian Trail, and that’s when the fun begins. Based on Bill Bryson’s bestseller, the movie co-stars Emma Thompson, Mary Steenburgen, Nick Offerman & Kristen Schaal.
A Walk in the Woods opens September 2, 2015.