In 1962, future Pulitzer Prize–winning author Alex Haley sat down with jazz musician Miles Davis for what would become an institution of American journalism—the Playboy Interview. To celebrate the Interview’s 50th anniversary, Playboy has culled 50 of its most (in)famous Interviews and will publish them over the course of 50 weekdays (from September 4, 2012 to November 12, 2012) via Amazon’s Kindle Direct platform. Here, a glimpse at our conversation with the actor and film director Robert Redford from the November 2007 issue.
“I gave up a long time ago the idea that a film can change people’s lives, let alone their politics. I discovered we Americans enjoy the distraction of entertainment but aren’t really interested in the deeper message.”
“The success of Sex, Lies and Videotape in 1989 brought the Hollywood merchants to Sundance. Once the merchants came, the distribution and marketing people came. The agents came, the Weinsteins came, the film press came, the celebrities came, and the paparazzi came. Once the paparazzi came, fashion came. Then another type of paparazzi came, and the parties got bigger. And the crowds got bigger. That’s when the difficulties began—to manage it, to keep the reins on it. It had been this safe haven, and now Paris Hilton and Britney Spears were coming, people who had nothing to do with film. I thought, Oh shit!”
“The excess attention always made me uncomfortable. I never liked feeling it was all about my looks. You want to be seen for what you can do, not for your hair or your blue eyes or your teeth. The golden-boy thing became a screen in front of everything else, and that really worried me. It felt threatening. Suddenly your looks bring up resentment. You start to represent something to people that has nothing to do with who you are. That’s not to say I wasn’t enjoying success. I was enjoying parts of it immensely.”
“Environmental activism isn’t about being trendy or making a fashion statement. There’s something shallow about that. With the Johnny-come-latelies, you hope it’s not just a publicity move, because people will grow tired of it and move on. That’s not to say there hasn’t been progress. What’s changed is the money. The public is waking up to this and buying the green movement. Corporate America is finally saying you can be both profitable and environmentally conscious. That’s something we’ve been waiting for since the 1960s. What Al Gore’s been doing couldn’t have happened without corporate funding. Unfortunately, it took the escalation of global threats to make that happen, and now we need more than stars showing up in hybrids and organic cotton. If public enthusiasm wanes, the blue-chip backing will disappear, and then where will we be? We need more funding. We need new green technologies, like the ones coming out of Silicon Valley. We need real action.”
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