Hollywood Legends Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford
Not long after Barbra began singing professionally, Broadway beckoned. She played Funny Girl Fanny Brice when she was 21 years old, a role she recreated in her film debut. The onscreen performance earned her an Oscar® for Best Actress.
Then, in 1983, Barbra made history when she stepped behind the camera for the film Yentl. She was the first woman to produce, direct, write and star in a major motion picture.
Over the years, Barbra has also sold more than 70 million albums and sang for devoted fans around the world. In her five-decade career, she's won two Oscars, 11 Golden Globes®, one Tony®, eight Grammys® and five Emmys®, making her a true living legend.
Barbra's continuous drive comes from the fact that she bores easily, she says, but she's also motivated by her family history. "I do think that maybe there's some psychological connection to the fact that my father died at 35," she says. "He was so incredible from what I've read about him, and he's listed in a book of leaders of great education. He was a PhD, and his life was cut short. And I think, 'What could he have accomplished?' ... What I'm surmising from my own subconscious conscious mind is that I'm almost living his life, trying to accomplish many things that perhaps he could have done."
While Barbra is hailed as one of the best voices of all time, she once told Oprah that she never intended to be a singer. "I love singing when it's me and the music alone. When I'm recording, I love singing with an orchestra, and there's nobody judging it at the moment," she says. "When you come out and perform in front of people, it's pressured. It's something else. It's 'Oh, now I'm aware you're watching me, or you've paid money to see me.' And again, I think I've said this before: I don't want to disappoint anyone."
Marriage has taught Barbra that she doesn't like being alone, she says. "It's nice to have companionship. ... You do have to work at it. You've got to watch yourself."
James may be her real-life leading man, but on-screen, Barbra has acted opposite some of the biggest names in Hollywood, including Jeff Bridges, Nick Nolte, Mandy Patinkin and Kris Kristofferson. But, the co-star many fans remember most is Robert Redford, her love interest in The Way We Were.
It's hard to imagine any other actor playing the male lead, Hubbell, but Robert says he turned down the role at first. "I thought it was a good script. I thought it was great for Barbra. But the character in the initial script was, I felt, one dimensional," he says. "So [director] Sydney [Pollack] and I got together, and we worked something that felt good to me, which was a character that appeared a certain way and people would ascribe certain things to him that he didn't really know were true."
Barbra was always rooting for Robert to take the part, she says. "They were talking about other people because he had turned it down so many times," she says. "I was hoping and praying, but it didn't look good. And then, I was in Africa making a movie and ... a friend of mine at the time sent me a telegram, and it said 'Barbra, Redford,' and I knew he had signed on."
Before shooting the first scene, Robert says Sydney asked him to talk to Barbra in her trailer because she was nervous. Robert said no. "I said: 'It feels like that's appropriate. If she's nervous, that's good. We'll meet on the set in the scene,'" he says. "To me, that was more organic. And then, of course, as Barbra and I started to work together, it did become organic."
Barbra had similar intentions when she created her character's signature gesture—brushing aside Hubbell's bangs. "I wanted to find some gesture that I could do that I could repeat at certain times of the film," she says. "That's why I did that in the first scene, because I thought I would recreate it later when it would have more meaning."
"I started as an actor in the theater playing a lot of character parts, and suddenly, I found myself in this place where it felt like I was getting locked into a kind of a stereotype, and it did bother me," he says. "And then I would hear, 'Well, but that's easy for you.' Or, 'You look like somebody who's educated in the East,' which I wasn't. 'And came from an elegant background,' which I didn't."
Fortunately, Robert was able to break the stereotype and star in a wide variety of cherished films, including Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, The Sting, All the President's Men, Out of Africa, Spy Game and The Natural. And while his acting put him on the map, Oscar® came calling after Robert stepped behind the camera. He won his first Oscar for his directorial debut with Ordinary People, and he took home a second statuette in 2002 for lifetime achievement.
Despite his brilliant career in the movies, Robert says the path he pioneered for independent filmmakers is his most meaningful accomplishment. In 1981, he founded the groundbreaking Sundance Institute and Film Festival, which remains one of the most prestigious festivals in the world.
"I'd worked hard, done a lot of movies, and I thought: 'Okay, stop. Take a break and see how you want to go forward after this point," he says. "I came up with the idea [that] the thing that would satisfy me the most would be to do something that would create opportunities for others, and particularly new artists with new voices and perspectives."
Unlike millions of moviegoers, Robert says he never saw the finished cut of The Way We Were. "I was in another country when the film came out," he says. "I wasn't prepared for its success. Not that I thought it was a failure, I just wasn't prepared for the impact."
Barbra says she's always wanted to do a sequel to The Way We Were, but Robert wasn't interested. "There was a great story with our daughter, who would have become a political activist as well, at Berkeley in 1968, the year of the Democratic Convention," she says. "There was a very interesting story there."
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