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A Conversation with Robert Redford

Robert Redford has starred in such films as <I>All The President's Men</I>, <I>The Sting</I> and <I>Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid</I>, and is the founder of the Sundance Film Festival.
Susan Feeney, NPR News /
Robert Redford has starred in such films as All The President's Men, The Sting and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and is the founder of the Sundance Film Festival.

Robert Redford has certainly benefited from Hollywood's big-budget blockbuster formula system. But the star actor and director says art plays a crucial role in filmmaking and must not be left out. "Art is very much a part of filmmaking. And you can't have a product without art being its seed...," Redford tells NPR's Bob Edwards.

In a wide-ranging interview on Morning Edition, Redford also discusses America's celebrity society, the benefits of public funding for the arts and the California governorship recall election:

On celebrities in politics: "Celebrity is a big part of the American social system. I'm certainly grateful for what it's done for me, but I do think that celebrity is overdone in our society. I think it's got a dangerous side to it. I think that people should be paying a lot more attention to other issues, rather than who's the top 10 this or... who's the sexiest or the most beautiful..."

On the California election: "To me it's just ridiculous to have this recall vote. To let some right-wing guy with a lot of money step in there and try to unravel the democratic process is to me unthinkable."

On the economic importance of the arts, which face public funding cutbacks: He notes that the Sundance Film Festival, which he founded, pumps millions of dollars into Park City, Utah's economy each January. "About 35,000 to 40,000 people inflate the town in a 10-day period, and that brings a lot of money to the retailers, the restaurants... which goes back to the state in the form of taxes." He says those "huge" economic benefits should be better promoted as well as the benefits of arts programs for disadvantaged children.

Redford is scheduled to deliver a state-of-the-arts lecture at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Tuesday night.

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