'Pete’s Dragon' Star Robert Redford Reveals 5 Interesting Things About Himself

Disney's Pete's Dragon Robert Redford Interview

In a recent interview with Robert Redford, the PETE’S DRAGON star opened up about his tough childhood, his love of Disney movies and some interesting stories about himself.

The iconic Hollywood actor, writer and director stars in Disney’s PETE’S DRAGON alongside Bryce Dallas Howard, Karl Urban and Wes Bentley opening August 12. The Disney flick centers on an orphaned boy (Oakes Fegley) and his pet dragon Elliot.

In a candid interview with Robert Redford, the soft spoken 79-year-old revealed a lot about his past and  interesting details about his life.

1. Redford The Storyteller

When Redford signed up to play Meacham, PETE’S DRAGON director David Lowery allowed Redford to further develop his underwritten character. That “authorship” allowed him to write a little of himself into the role by making Bryce Dallas Howard’s on-screen father the storyteller of the film. Redford is a storyteller himself which dates back to his childhood growing up in an impoverished area of Los Angeles.

“It was a difficult time, a difficult life. Lower working class neighborhood didn’t have much so storytelling became a huge thing. It became a way out of a tough situation. That played a big role in my life as a kid.”

Petes Dragon Disney Robert Redford BryceDallasHoward

2. Fan of Disney Films

PETE’S DRAGON’s mixture of realism and magic reminds Redford of early Disney films. As a child, he recalls loving Disney films such as Bambi and Fantasia. Besides keeping the tradition of storytelling alive, the iconic Hollywood actor thinks magic has a “value” in life to both children and adults alike.

“Magic was a big part of my life. There’s something beyond me.”

PETE’S DRAGON captures that spirit, he says.   

Disney's Petes Dragon

3. His Most Personal Film

Robert Redford spearheaded the making of JEREMIAH JOHNSON after reading about the true story of real-life trapper John Johnston, and he recruited famed director Sydney Pollack to helm the Western, but he ran into a wall with the studio. “Studio had no interest in making it,” he says. The film, eventually, was greenlit for $3 million although the studio didn’t believe they could make it for so little.

Redford admits the shoot was “tough” with freezing conditions, but “it was real,” which was important for him. He was “proud” of the final product, and the studio thought the film was different and interesting but had no idea how to market it so it stayed on the shelf for two to three years until its eventual release in 1974.


4. Smuggled into Cuba

Another interesting side note that came out of the roundtable interview was his time spent in Cuba when it was illegal to visit the country under Fidel Castro’s rule. Famed writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez smuggled him into Cuba when Castro was in power. “No one knew,” he say. “Later on I was there for five days and they smuggled me  right back out again.  

Someone in Florida reported him to the U.S. Treasury Department, and the Sundance Kid was a wanted man. “I was put under investigation for six months, says Redford. ’What was I doing in Cuba with Castro?’ I went back later on.”

5. Musical

It seems as if Robert Redford has done it all in his career, but there’s one genre he hasn’t tackled yet.

"I’d like to do a musical. I’ve wanted to do that for a long time. I’m attracted to something that’s a little bit different."

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