“I like the idea of stepping into new territory,” Redford told the Los Angeles Times of his interest in ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’. The 2014 Marvel film raked in $96.2 million on its first weekend, April’s biggest opening of all time, easily absorbing his salary. It became his most lucrative project. The veteran actor played Alexander Pierce, an old comrade of Nick Fury. The role paid homage to Redford’s 1970s thrillers. “I’m doing [the film] because it’s different. It’s a new thing for me. I think these films are really powerful. I think they’re great,” Redford said. “This is the kind of film I would have loved to see as a kid.”
The 77-year-old also said, “One of the reasons that I did the movie was I wanted to experience this new form of filmmaking that’s taken over where you have kind of cartoon characters brought to life through high technology.” Just the opposite of All is Lost, which was made without CGI or any special effects at all.
‘All Is Lost’
'All is Lost' is a one-man show. Redford plays a man stranded on a yacht in the middle of the Indian Ocean, and he is the only character in the 2014 film. “I liked the idea there were no special effects,” Redford points out. “It was a very low-budget film, very independent in its spirit and budget,” he said, adding, “It was more of a pure cinematic experience—the way films used to be, maybe even going back to silent films.”
'All is Lost' is practically a silent film. The script, barely 30 pages, gives the actor very little to say, but it was one of his most demanding roles ever; a lesson to his younger self who won a Road Runner gag gift for worrying about not having enough lines to call it acting. After screening at Cannes, it brought Redford a Golden Globe nomination, and Alex Ebert a Golden Globe win for Best Original Score. It was recognized by the Academy with a nomination for Best Sound Editing.
Behind the Scenes on the Shipwrecked Yacht
By the time he worked on this project, he was 77. Nevertheless, he performed all his own stunts under somewhat brutal conditions. Filmed out at sea in Mexico, whipped by waves and wind, the man who we would call elderly, save for his athleticism, braved sun, sea, and a script with zero special effects. For two months, he faced fire hoses dousing him relentlessly for storms created by wind and rain machines.
In the movie, a wayward shipping container rams his yacht, tearing a gaping hole into the ship’s hull and his character must repair the damage. Some hailed his performance as his lifetime achievement. And it’s true. he sacrificed a lot in his commitment to independent film. The physically demanding role under harsh maritime conditions caused him to lose 60 percent of his hearing in one of his ears.
A Lifetime of Achievement in Cinema
Redford has been acting since he was 21 years old. He has performed in 80 films throughout his almost 60-year career. In 2016, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild, and in 2002, the Academy presented him with the Lifetime Achievement honor.
He was also honored by the Directors Guild of America. Additionally, three of his films were significant enough to be chosen by the Library of Congress for preservation. Finally, he received the highest French honor, the Légion d’Honneur, in 2010.
The Elusive Oscar
Redford has no doubt enjoyed a stupendous career, but you might be surprised to learn he never won a Best Actor Academy Award. In fact, out of the many epic films he’s starred in, Redford has only been nominated for an Oscar for his acting one time. His performance in 'The Sting' earned him his sole Academy Award nomination. 'Out of Africa' was up for seven Oscars, but none in his name.
As for his directing efforts, he’s had more luck. 'Ordinary People' earned him an Oscar in 1980. Likewise, 'All the President’s Men', in which Redford directed, produced, and starred, was nominated for eight however it only won Best Screenplay.