The not-quite retiring Robert Redford


The Academy Award-winner says his latest film, "The Old Man & the Gun," will be his last acting job, but he's not close to wrapping things up just yet.

CBS News

Say the name Robert Redford, and "legend" comes to mind.  But even legends have ends, which bring us to our Lee Cowan:

We've seen Robert Redford a time or two over the years, but on our latest visit he told us something his fans aren't going to want to hear. He's thinking about retiring.

"You know, I can't do this forever," Redford said. "I've been doing it since I was 21. As you move into your 80s, you say, hey, that's enough, that's enough."

"It's hard for me to hear that when you say it might be your last," Cowan said.

"It's hard for me to say it! You don't like talking about your end. I mean, who does, you know?" 

At 82, Robert Redford's still got it.  What he says will be his last role has the "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" star robbing banks again, in "The Old Man & the Gun." It's based on the true story of Forrest Tucker, a lifelong outlaw who escaped from nearly every prison he was confined to, continuing to rob banks well into his late 70s.

THE OLD MAN & THE GUN | Trailer 2 [HD] | FOX Searchlight by FoxSearchlight on YouTube

Cowan asked, "What do you think attracted you to Forrest Tucker?  Was it the robberies? Or was it the escapes."

"The escapes," Redford replied. "Yeah, because that's what he enjoyed the most. To me, that's a great story to tell."

For all the stories his characters have told over his almost 60-year career, he never really expected to be in the movies.

"I grew up, it was kind of a rough neighborhood," he recalled. "We'd go to matinees. Any time there was a love scene on the screen, we'd go, Oh boo!  You tell 'em, lover! You know, and make fun of the scene. Suddenly the idea that I would be that guy is just too much for me to take!"

Of course, he became just the kind of matinee idol he made fun of, but not at first. 

"The first show I ever did was a 'Perry Mason,' back in 1959, and the title of it was 'The Case of the Treacherous Toupée.' I had no idea what that meant! But it was first job as an actor. 

"And then it went uphill from there."

He was already a superstar when Charles Kuralt visited him in 1994, at the top of his Sundance retreat in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah. Kuralt remarked, "If anybody ever asks me why you don't live in Beverly Hills, now I'll be able to tell them."

Redford's passion for out-of-the-way places is as fierce as ever – places where nature is plentiful, and fans are few, like his ranch outside Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

Actor-director Robert Redford with correspondent Lee Cowan. CBS News

"Was the celebrity a burden?" Cowan asked.

"Yes, to a degree. I mean, I'm grateful for part of it, obviously, but yeah, at a certain point it was taking more away than it was bringing."

The acting he loved; it was all the other stuff around celebrity he didn't.  "You get further and further away from the thing you like the most, which is the work," he said.

Cowan and Redford first met five years ago, while he was promoting the film "All Is Lost."

It was a physically demanding solo performance that, in the end, damaged his hearing.

"Did your hearing come back after 'All Is Lost'?"


"Didn't it really?"

"Not really. One ear, yeah. The other not so much. It's probably good. I'm not missing anything!"

Especially, he said, in his other passion, the world of politics. 

Cowan asked, "What do you see on the political landscape now?"

"Well, I guess what I see is that history repeats itself," Redford said. "What we're seeing now is the tension between truth-telling and the effort to stop it. And that's a repeat."

He says he'll remain outspoken on issues that matter, including the environment. And he'll continue to champion the cause of independent film at his Sundance Institute. But first, there's one last film to promote. 

There's lot of things for a legend to do. Redford will still produce and direct. The road isn't coming to an end ... he just knows it's getting shorter. 

"I really don't think of 'retirement,' because to me retirement means stopping something or quitting something," Redford said. "There's this life to lead. Why not live it as much as you can as long as you can?"

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Story produced by Peter Goodman.