The Company You Keep


With over 52 years in the business, 30 films as a producer, nine as director and an estimated 66 screen-roles to his credit, Robert Redford is one of the most influential figures in the film industry. He has received two Oscars®; the first for his directorial debut, Ordinary People in 1980, the second for Lifetime Achievement in 2002. He is also the founder of The Sundance Institute, and with it, The Sundance Film Festival, known for their passionate commitment and immeasurable contribution to independent cinema. For THE COMPANY YOU KEEP, Redford would call upon his experience and passion to bring the film and central character to life, shepherding his own independent project forward over the course of several years with his producing partners.

Though clearly captivated by the character of Jim Grant – his sense of loyalty, nobility and integrity – Redford is nevertheless quick to point out the differences between himself and the man we see on screen. “At that time, I was raising a family and starting a career, so I wasn’t involved politically,” he says. “The activism in my life was centered around the environment. On the other hand, I had a lot of friends who were involved. I saw what was happening; I could see the good of it. The reason people were so passionate was because there was a draft then… People didn’t want to fight a war they didn’t believe in and so they rebelled against it. I sympathized with that at the time, but I didn’t get involved.”

Although Redford ultimately welcomed the task of directing and simultaneously playing the leading role on screen, he did have his initial reservations – along with his own unique approach.

“I think you have to be schizophrenic in a controlled way,” he explains. “To act and direct is not something that I’m particularly drawn to. When I act, I like to be free to act and when I’m directing I like to be free to look at the situation in the way the conductor of an orchestra would. Instead of being a single instrument, you’re looking at how they all come together and create a story.”

“I was just in awe of him,” says rising star, Brit Marling, who stars as Brendan Gleeson’s daughter, Rebecca Osborne, of working with Redford. “It was an incredible experience just to be a part of it.”

“He’s just a great guy, a wonderful guy,” says Richard Jenkins, who plays one of Grant’s former cohorts, the former radical and now ‘respectable,’ history professor, Jed Lewis. “You can tell that just by this cast. He asks you to do something and you go, ‘Sure…’

“I would say he’s one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met,” says Julie Christie, who plays Redford’s former lover and fellow underground fugitive, Mimi Lurie, on screen. “He has an enormous sweetness which is quite striking. But he also knows what he wants and as a director he’s absolutely single-minded about getting it.”

“I met him as a fan and that stayed throughout the entirety of our whole working relationship,” says Shia LaBeouf of his close collaboration with Redford as director and co-star. “But he also has a way of diminishing that fan bubble and getting right to work. I got my script on the very first day I met him. And it was right to work.”


ROBERT REDFORD has won wide acclaim for his work as an actor, producer, director, champion of independent film and environmentalist. He won an Academy Award®, a DGA Award, and a Golden Globe Award for best direction for his feature directing debut, the intensely emotional family drama Ordinary People. He was also nominated for an Academy Award® for directing Quiz Show.

As an actor, he earned an Academy Award® nomination for his performance in The Sting. In 2002, he received an honorary Academy Award® recognizing his achievements as an actor, director, producer, and the creator of Sundance Institute. Redford also directed and produced The Milagro Beanfield War, A River Runs Through It, The Horse Whisperer, The Legend of Bagger Vance, Lions for Lambs, and The Conspirator, and served as executive producer and narrator of Incident at Oglala, a documentary about the Native American activist Leonard Peltier.

Born in Santa Monica, California, Redford attended the University of Colorado but left school after two years to travel through Europe, studying art in Paris and Florence. He continued his art studies when he returned to the U.S. by enrolling at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. At the suggestion of an instructor, Redford moved to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, where a passion for acting superseded his interest in pictorial art. A small part on Broadway led to roles in several major live television dramas, and, in 1961, he made his feature debut in War Hunt.

Later that year, he starred in his first Broadway show, Sunday in New York, which was soon followed by Barefoot in the Park. It was the film version of Barefoot in the Park that first brought him both public and industry notice. Redford went on to portray an array of characters in a spectrum of films, many from his own production company, Wildwood Enterprises.

Under the Wildwood banner, Redford starred in Downhill Racer and The Candidate, and he produced and starred in All the President’s Men. Other film roles include Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Jeremiah Johnson, The Way We Were, The Three Days of the Condor, Brubaker, The Natural, Out of Africa, Indecent Proposal, Up Close and Personal, The Last Castle, Spy Game, The Clearing, and An Unfinished Life. Redford received the 1997 National Medal for the Arts from President Clinton. In December 2005, Redford accepted the Kennedy Center Honors for his “distinguished achievement in the performing arts and in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to the life of our country.”