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Article updated: 10/25/2013 1:13 PM

Redford fretted about 'All is Lost' reception

Robert Redford plays the lone sailor facing his own mortality after a collision with a shipping container in the Indian Ocean in “All is Lost.”

Robert Redford plays the lone sailor facing his own mortality after a collision with a shipping container in the Indian Ocean in "All is Lost."

 
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By Lauri Neff, Associated Press

NEW YORK -- He's been acting for more than half a century, but even Robert Redford still gets nervous showing off a new film.

Redford got a standing ovation when his survival drama "All is Lost" premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May. But the two-time Oscar-winner reveals he was worried how the sometimes prickly Cannes crowd would react.

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Opening gradually beginning Friday, "All is Lost" tells the story of a lone sailor, played by Redford, facing his own mortality after a collision with a shipping container in the Indian Ocean.

"The first time I saw the film was at the festival in Cannes and because they boo films there sometimes, even though you're in a tuxedo, you're sitting in a place that could boo something," said the 77-year-old actor. "When the film ended I thought, 'I don't know how this is going to go.' I really didn't."

Redford also said his first viewing of the film, in which he's the only actor, recalled the extreme demands of the role. "To be reminded of how wet you were so much of the time, which was not fun ... you kind of forgot about how physical it was and that comes back."

Redford recently sat down with The Associated Press to talk about "All is Lost," a film with virtually no talking at all:

Q. What did you think of your performance?

A. I looked at my performance because I couldn't avoid it, (laughs), but no, it wasn't wow it was just, 'Yeah, I remember that. I remember that; hmm. Oh, that's what that ended up looking like.' (Redford says he doesn't look at monitors or dailies while shooting because "I don't like being aware of myself when I'm working.")

Q. During filming did you ever wonder, 'Whoa, what did I get myself into?'

A. I was so busy surviving that there wasn't a whole lot of time to think. You just had to do. You had to be there do it as an actor. You had to get through it. There were a couple of times when I thought, 'Hmm, this is extreme,' but you just do it and then you forget about thinking that.

Q. That works for the part.

A. It was what was supposed to be. The character is in charge of things in the beginning and then things happen where he's not so much in charge. He's a little bit in charge but not much and then finally he's completely not in charge. He's at the mercy of the elements and then what you do? I found that exciting as an actor to go through that process. ... You finally get to the point where there's only improvisation. There's nothing left except improvise 'cause you're not prepared for what's happening.

Q. I read that you pressed director J.C. Chandor for a back story and he wasn't having any of it.

A. I just do what any actor says, 'OK, there's not much dialogue, in fact there is none, there's very little back story, so what's on your mind? Is there something I need to know as an actor?' And when he was evasive, I started to get nervous. 'Does he not know how to describe his own film?' Until I realized, no, this is intentional. He's intentionally being evasive -- meaning that what's in there is all he wants to be in there and once I got that I released that tendency to ask that.

Q. Is there a message?

A. I've always been fascinated by that point in life for everyone -- there comes a moment when all seems to be lost, when there's nothing more to do. You can't do anything more. You're up against the odds that are against you and there seems to be no way out, all is lost, no point in continuing and so some people quit and they stop and others for unknown reasons just keep going because that's all there is to do.

Q. How was filming "Captain America"?

A. J.C. (Chandor) asked me to be in a film and I had supported independent film for so many years but nobody ever asked me to be in a film and he did and I thought I was inclined to take it just because he asked. A little bit of the same thing with 'Captain America.' It's so different filmmaking, so completely high-tech and so completely different I thought it would be interesting and fun to understand what that is. ... It was slightly weird."

Q. Any thoughts of retiring?

A. If it's not brought up to me, I'm probably not going to think about it.

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