There’s a highly absorbing Scott Raab interview with Robert Redford in the April Esquire as well as right here. The idea is to bring attention to Redford’s The Company You Keep (Sony Classics, 4.5) but the pleasure is in Raab’s writing and the way in which he considers Redford’s past that makes it almost seem like fresh material.
That said, Raab’s article affords an opportunity to discuss Redford’s hair. He mentions the “dirt-blond impasto of [Redford’s] mane” and quotes Pauline Kael as having written in the ’70s that Redford “has turned almost alarmingly blond — he’s gone past platinum, he must be into plutonium; his hair is coordinated with his teeth.”
Yeah, I think it was dyed. Certainly all through the ’60s, ’70s and…I dunno, until the mid ’80s? I know that once I started seeing Redford in person at the Sundance Film Festival in the mid ’90s he’d reverted back to his original color, which was a kind of dull faded copper. I know that I once interviewed a friend who knew Redford when he was a vaguely alienated teenager in Van Nuys and that his friends called him “Red.”
As shallow as this sounds I was sorry when Redford dropped the blond hair because it always looked so great on him. The copper thing looks okay, I guess, but the man with the golden hair was such a stone movie star. So beautiful. I love watching the young or youngish Redford (anything from the early ’60s to early ’80s) for the simple pleasure of savoring his looks.
Early on Raab gets Redford to share a really good Pauline Kael story:
“I’m at a restaurant with my wife and some friends in Santa Monica, and a waiter comes up and says, ‘Mr. Redford, Mr. Newman is in the next room.’ By this time, Paul and I had a wonderful thing going, playing gags on each other, so I said, ‘So? I’m busy here.’ I blew him off. We finish our meal, we’re on our way out of the place, and this woman comes running toward me and lunges at me. She grabs both my hands and she says, ‘I’m Pauline Kael. You must hate me. But you have to understand something. You let me down.’
“There was so much nervous tension coming at me, I couldn’t put this thing together — I thought it was a gag. My first thought was Newman’s paid somebody a fiver to come out and pretend to be Pauline Kael. But then when she said ‘You let me down,’ I was confused. She said, ‘I’m here for the stupid Academy Awards — if you’d like to talk, I’d be happy to see you.’ I was so thrown that I said, ‘Let me call you.’
“I realized it really was her, and then I saw it all. That’s where a critic goes over the line —- they want to own you. They want to dictate your path. I called and she said, ‘Are you going to come by for a drink?’
“I said, ‘I don’t think it would be appropriate. I appreciate the invitation, but I don’t think I should.’ And then she really got pissed. Everything I did from then on, she just tore into me.”
And there’s a portion about speeding on the highway that’s almost scary:
Raab: Still a Porsche man?
Redford: Oh, yeah.
Raab: Still go fast?
Redford: You bet. I’ll have breakfast in Napa Valley at my place and I’ll drive straight through 720 miles to Salt Lake for dinner.
Redford: I’m moving 120, 130 miles an hour on an open highway.
Raab: Shit. Seriously?
Redford: I don’t want to talk too much about this. I just love movement. I get really antsy if I can’t move.
Wells: 130 fucking miles an hour? With your reactions being a little slowed down by being in your mid ’70s, or at least not what they used to be? That’s crazy, man.