Redford on Newman: 'I have lost a real friend'

Published September 29, 2008 7:42 am
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Redford and Newman.

The names are inseparable in the minds of moviegoers, even though the men who own those names - actors Robert Redford and Paul Newman - made only two movies together, "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (1969) and "The Sting" (1973).

The combination of charisma, humor and the fact that the two were friends in real life made for an indelible screen team. As recently as two years ago, as Newman's health was declining, the two talked about reuniting for a third film.

In a statement Saturday to The Associated Press, Redford responded to Newman's death Friday at the age of 83: "There is a point where feelings go beyond words. I have lost a real friend. My life - and this country - is better for his being in it."

Redford invited Newman to come work as an adviser at the Sundance Institute's Filmmakers Lab, soon after Redford founded the institute at his Utah ski resort. "I went out there a couple of times, very early on, and found that I had no gift for it," Newman said in 2006, on a promotional junket for the Pixar film "Cars," in which Newman provided the voice of the gruff Doc Hudson.

Redford and Newman's friendship was deep, but because of their competitive natures there was sometimes an element of playful one-upsmanship.

In 2005, when Redford interviewed Newman for an episode of the Sundance Channel documentary series "Iconoclasts," Newman teased the younger Redford for constantly being late.

"I am painfully punctual, one of the things . . . that separates me from Redford," Newman said. "I gave him a pillow once that said, 'Punctuality is the courtesy of kings.' He lost his punctuality, like his virginity, somewhere between 'Butch Cassidy' and 'The Sting.' "

Then there's the story, recounted in the Washington Post obituary for Newman, of the time Redford gave Newman a Porsche - dented, missing an engine, and dumped on Newman's driveway with a note that read "Happy Birthday." Newman had the car compressed, put in a wooden box and sent to Redford's estate with a nasty letter. According to the Post, Newman "conceded that Redford won the gag by never acknowledging the box."

Sean P. Means is the movie critic for The Salt Lake Tribune. He can be reached at movies@sltrib.com or 801-257-8602.



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