Robert Redford explains why Hollywood has stopped making dramatic movies

Robert Redford Dimitrios Kambouris Getty
Robert Redford. Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

Robert Redford has never been shy about speaking his mind, whether the topic is politics, the environment or the state of the movie industry.

Although the actor still shows up in movies occasionally (most recently “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”), for the most part he’s been dedicated to helping filmmakers tell important stories that the Hollywood system won’t touch.

Redford created the Sundance Film Festival, which has become the preeminent American film festival for independent filmmakers. He’s also starred in works by burgeoning talents.

His latest role in the movie “Truth” is a perfect example. In it, Redford plays Dan Rather during a controversial “60 Minutes” report on President George W. Bush’s military record. The report led to Rather stepping down as the anchor of “CBS Evening News.”

Truth5 Lisa Tomasetti Sony Pictures Classics
Robert Redford as Dan Rather in ‘Truth.’ Lisa Tomasetti/Sony Pictures Classics

Directed by first-time filmmaker James Vanderbilt (known best for his screenplays “Zodiac” and “The Amazing Spider-Man”), the movie, which also stars Cate Blanchett, is one that a studio would typically have nothing to do with now.

However in the 1970s, studios used to do button-pushing dramas. Redford starred in a few of them, like “Three Days of the Condor” and “All The President’s Men.

Washington Post All The President's Men
‘All The President’s Men.’ Screenshot

What happened?

“Through the ’60s and ’70s, I enjoyed being able to do a large film and also at the same banner do a small film that I wanted to make,” Redford told Business Insider during a press day for “Truth.”

“I was very happy to do a larger film — either it was something that I liked or the larger films were good. But something changed in 1980. Hollywood became centralised and [the studios] were going to follow the youth market because that’s where the money was. They weren’t going to make these films that were more humanistic in nature and that’s what made me want to start Sundance, to keep that alive.”

Movies like “Jaws” and “Star Wars” made Hollywood completely changed it looked at the business. With “The Empire Strikes Back,” and “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” on the horizon, the modestly-budgeted drama would no longer have a place at the studio level.

Today, dramas at studios are mostly extinct (outside of a story that has awards-bait and has a major star attached) with the focus firmly on big-budget blockbusters, and most recently, comic book adaptations.

To Redford it’s simple: “They’re following the money,” he said.

“Truth” opens in select theatres on Friday.

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