Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Director Thrilled by Oscar Buzz for Film, Redford

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Director Thrilled by Oscar Buzz for Film, Redford

Article excerpt

Making a movie with one -- and only one -- actor is a tremendous risk.

And when it's Robert Redford, whose character clambers up a 65- foot mast, is tossed around a sailboat or flipped upside down and inside out of a life raft, the danger multiplies.

After all, no director wants to be known as the one who hurt the Oscar winner, founder of the Sundance Institute, noted environmentalist and matinee idol. "All Is Lost" writer-director J.C. Chandor worried about that every day. Every. Day.

"You also have a movie that is essentially a loss at that point, a total loss because it's a one-person movie. There are no cover sets, there's no one else to shoot," he said during a recent phone call from Philadelphia.

"It was always there. The nice thing, creatively, is it's always there for the character in the movie. If he breaks his leg, it's like a bird in the wild; you break your wing and it's over. And in a way, he knew that about himself as an actor, and the character certainly knows that."

In "All Is Lost," opening today, Mr. Redford battles for survival against the elements after his sailboat is badly damaged and then destroyed at sea.

Mr. Chandor, an Academy Award nominee for his original screenplay "Margin Call," didn't start the project with Mr. Redford, now 77, in mind but came to see him as the ideal candidate.

"About halfway through actually physically writing it, I had an interaction with Robert Redford. He comes and welcomes all the Sundance filmmakers every year, so I was probably 15 pages into writing it, but had certainly formulated the entire movie at that point.

"I knew I wanted it to be an older actor, but I hadn't specifically isolated who it was," he said, but so much about Mr. Redford seemed right. It was as if chips were stacking up on the veteran's side of the table, "and once you pulled back for a second, you realized that's the guy to offer it to."

Mr. Chandor knows there are many reasons people say no or yes to a project, so he wasn't nervous or about to take the answer personally when pitching "Our Man" (the character's given name is not revealed) to the star of "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," "The Sting" and "All the President's Men."

"In this case, in a weird sense, I had some confidence. I thought it was worth the shot, for sure."

Crews filmed on location in the Bahamas, off the coast of Los Angeles, at Baja Studios in Mexico where "Titanic" shot, and off the coast of Ensenada, Mexico.

Given the demands on the actor and the crew, "All Is Lost" worked five-day weeks. "You needed the weekend to rebuild the sets and get everything ready for the week ahead but also just to give everyone a break from the grind and the monotony of the whole thing.

"On the really high-end action days, his time of actual working was very intense but fairly controlled. …

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