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At an early age, he decided he had two choices: he could be led by his fears, or he could overcome them. Robert Redford is a visionary because he chose to overcome his fears.He was bullied as a child. He was often beaten up by a Hispanic gang in his neighbourhood, and once almost died when the gang made him jump off a roof.
He was curious about sex. “I didn’t know what it was, but I wanted it, as much as I could get,” Redford said in his new biography.
He was a rebellious teenager. He stayed out all night partying and was once arrested for driving a car with stolen jewellery in the trunk.
He went to college on a baseball scholarship, which he lost for drinking and partying too much. He dropped out (or was expelled) from college soon after. He moved to Europe to become an artist and had a nervous breakdown. He moved back to the U.S., got married and had kids. He lost a child to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
The loss of his son affected Redford deeply, and he began pouring his emotions into his acting. Redford soon became a star after his breakout role as Paul in Barefoot in the Park, with Jane Fonda as his co-star.
Redford’s good looks and talent pushed him into the spotlight, but he preferred to be out of the public eye. Hollywood fame was not for him.
But he continued to act and direct, and bring home awards, even as he supported environmental causes and other issues he believed strongly in.
And in the spring of 1981 he formed Sundance Institute, to support a cause he was incredibly passionate about: the super-talented actors and directors no one had heard of, yet.
For its inaugural session, Redford invited a group of friends and 10 emerging filmmakers to the Sundance Filmmakers/Director’s Lab in Utah. There, emerging artists worked with leading writers and directors to develop their own screenplays.
Since those first labs two decades ago, the Sundance Institute has become recognised around the world as a resource for independent artists in film, theatre, and music. The Sundance Institute is also well-known for its annual film festival.
Redford always knew what he wanted. He didn’t let his fame, fortune, and good looks get in his way. Instead, he put his passion into what he believed in, and created what has today become the world’s most recognised resource for aspiring artists.
He saw what he wanted, forgot about his fears, and got to work.