Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Robert Redford's New Leading Lady: 'America's Got Talent' Star Jackie Evancho

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Robert Redford's New Leading Lady: 'America's Got Talent' Star Jackie Evancho

Article excerpt

Robert Redford heaps praise on Jackie Evancho

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TORONTO - Robert Redford has co-starred with some of the biggest legends of the silver screen: Meryl Streep! Glenn Close! Jane Fonda!

But it's acting newcomer Jackie Evancho who recently impressed the "Out of Africa" heart-throb.

"It was just pure joy," Redford says of working with the singing prodigy on his new film "The Company You Keep."

The film sees Redford juggle directing duties and a starring turn as Jim Grant, a small-town lawyer and single father whose world is shattered when a young journalist (Shia LaBeouf) discovers his past as a 1970s radical wanted by the law.

The finding sends Grant on the run in search of his ex-lover Mimi (Julie Christie) who holds the key to the long-ago crime and still holds fast to her antiwar convictions.

While many actors would clamour to work with Redford -- who won an Oscar for his 1980 directorial debut, "Ordinary People" -- Christie needed some cajoling.

Redford, 76, said he understood her reluctance, noting he repeatedly turned down the 1973 weeper "The Way We Were" because he didn't want to be a "a Ken doll to Barbra Streisand."

Said the actor: "That resistance, dragging you into something you know you want to do and have to do but you fight it is kind of a weird thing that I understand, so therefore I endured (her resistance). She made it really rough."

Ultimately, Christie agreed to join a blue-chip cast that also includes Richard Jenkins, Anna Kendrick, Susan Sarandon, Chris Cooper and Nick Nolte.

Still, as the cameras were nearly ready to roll on "The Company You Keep," one piece of the ensemble remained missing.

Redford -- whose last directorial effort was the 2010 period piece "The Conspirator" -- struggled mightily to find a suitable actress to play his daughter.

"I have a big thing about child actors, and that is I have an aversion to child actors who 'act' as opposed to child actors who can be natural, who can be real," a rumpled-looking Redford said during a Sunday morning interview at last September's Toronto International Film Festival.

"Scarlett Johansson was a kid when we did 'The Horse Whisperer' and I was very concerned if a child looked like they were acting it would be like fingernails on a blackboard. …

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