THE COMPANY YOU KEEP
Robert Redford -- Jim Grant
With over 52 years in the business, 30 films as a producer, nine as director and an
estimated 66 screen-roles to his credit, Robert Redford is one of the most influential
figures in the film industry. He has received two Oscars; the first for his directorial
debut, Ordinary People in 1980, the second for Lifetime Achievement in 2002. He is
also the founder of The Sundance Institute, and with it, The Sundance Film Festival,
known for their passionate commitment and immeasurable contribution to independent
cinema. For THE COMPANY YOU KEEP, Redford would call upon his experience and
passion to bring the film and central character to life, shepherding his own independent
project forward over the course of several years with his producing partners.
Though clearly captivated by the character of Jim Grant -- his sense of loyalty,
nobility and integrity -- Redford is nevertheless quick to point out the differences between
himself and the man we see on screen. "At that time, I was raising a family and starting a
career, so I wasn't involved politically," he says. "The activism in my life was centered
around the environment. On the other hand, I had a lot of friends who were involved. I
saw what was happening; I could see the good of it. The reason people were so
passionate was because there was a draft then... People didn't want to fight a war they
didn't believe in and so they rebelled against it. I sympathized with that at the time, but I
didn't get involved."
Although Redford ultimately welcomed the task of directing and simultaneously
playing the leading role on screen, he did have his initial reservations -- along with his
own unique approach.
"I think you have to be schizophrenic in a controlled way," he explains. "To act
and direct is not something that I'm particularly drawn to. When I act, I like to be free to
act and when I'm directing I like to be free to look at the situation in the way the
conductor of an orchestra would. Instead of being a single instrument, you're looking at
how they all come together and create a story."
"I was just in awe of him," says rising star, Brit Marling, who stars as Brendan
Gleeson's daughter, Rebecca Osborne, of working with Redford. "It was an incredible
experience just to be a part of it."
"He's just a great guy, a wonderful guy," says Richard Jenkins, who plays one of
Grant's former cohorts, the former radical and now 'respectable,' history professor, Jed
Lewis. "You can tell that just by this cast. He asks you to do something and you go,
"I would say he's one of the sweetest people I've ever met," says Julie Christie,
who plays Redford's former lover and fellow underground fugitive, Mimi Lurie, on
screen. "He has an enormous sweetness which is quite striking. But he also knows what
he wants and as a director he's absolutely single-minded about getting it."
"I met him as a fan and that stayed throughout the entirety of our whole working
relationship," says Shia LaBeouf of his close collaboration with Redford as director and
co-star. "But he also has a way of diminishing that fan bubble and getting right to work. I
got my script on the very first day I met him. And it was right to work."
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