TIFF: Robert Redford had to convince Julie Christie to be in 'The Company You Keep'
Robert Redford arrives at 'The Company You Keep' premiere during the Toronto International Film Festival on Sunday Sept. 9, 2012 in Toronto. (Evan Agostini / Invision)
Published Monday, September 10, 2012 7:07AM EDT
Screen legend Robert Redford says it took some serious convincing to get Julie Christie to sign on to his new film "The Company You Keep."
In an interview Sunday at the Toronto International Film Festival, Redford said he was captivated by Christie's performance in Sarah Polley's 2006 movie "Away from Her" and wanted her for his new movie.
Even though he didn't know the "Dr. Zhivago" star personally, Redford says he felt a bond with Christie because they broke out at the same time.
"She and I had similar attention as actors in the early '70s ... I felt this kind of kinship, not knowing her," said the 76-year-old.
"And I then thought I she was retired and I saw ('Away from Her') and I was very taken with that and then I just had her in mind."
Having Christie in mind was one thing. Persuading her was another matter entirely.
"She did everything she could to prevent me casting her," said Redford.
"I called Sarah and I said geez am I just going uphill? Am I Sisyphus on this thing? What's going to happen?"
Polley reassured him that that was just the way Christie worked.
Redford said he understood such reluctance, noting he turned down "The Way We Were" three times because he didn't want to be "a Ken doll to Barbra Streisand."
"That resistance, dragging you into something you know you want to do and have to do but you fight it is kind of a weird thing that I understand, so there for I endured (her resistance).
"But she made it really rough."
"The Company You Keep" stars Redford as Jim Grant, a small-town lawyer and single father whose world is upended when a young journalist (Shia LaBeouf) uncovers his past as a 1970s anti-war protester who is wanted by the law. Christie plays Grant's ex-lover, who still holds fast to her radical convictions of the past.
The rest of the star-studded cast includes Richard Jenkins, Anna Kendrick, Susan Sarandon, Chris Cooper and Nick Nolte.
Redford calls the thriller "classical storytelling."
"That was a choice. Because I think that, for me, the essential word if I'm going to be doing something is story, always has been. What's the story? Where's the story? What is it?" said the filmmaker, who won an Oscar for his directorial debut, 1980's "Ordinary People."
"And although I have a lot of admiration for all kinds of new techniques ... for me, I like the idea of bringing the audience and having the audience hopefully play more of a role so that when the film's over they're left with something to think about."
The Toronto International Film Festival runs until Sept. 16.