"The one person who stood behind me was my mother. She believed that all things considered, she just had faith that I had something in me that was going to turn out OK,” the actor said about his mother.
Robert Redford is one of the most celebrated actors in Hollywood today. From The Chase to The Great Gatsby to Avengers: Endgame, the actor has definitely proven his talent and prowess in the profession, including directing. Not to mention, he even started the Sundance Film Festival and Institute, one of the most influential forums in the world which has also fostered numerous independent directors, according to France 24. So it seems like he has everything sorted and life couldn't be better, especially after he announced his retirement with his last film, The Old Man & The Gun.
But it wasn't always like that for him. Redford said to Mirror UK, “People think it’s been easy for me. That’s hard to live with. It’s so untrue.” The Butch Cassidy and Sundance actor was initially just a kid in Los Angeles who allegedly stole beer for all-night drinking parties and was a member of a high school gang, according to MSN. However, it was his mother, Martha Hart, that helped him change his entire life around and shape him into the man he is today.
“[I] had a lot of criticism, but I didn’t have a lot of support,” Redford told the audience at the Sundance Film Festival Utah Women’s Leadership Celebration, as reported by Closer Weekly, quoted Fox News. But it was his mother who had his back... always.
In fact, she's also the reason he claims to have a strong connection with women. “Why do I feel this strong connection to women?” said the 81-year-old, according to the news outlet. “I think it probably has to do with my mom… The one person who stood behind me was my mother. She believed that all things considered, she just had faith that I had something in me that was going to turn out OK.”
The 83-year-old director described his mother as "the strong member of the family” who “always had a smile [and] was very, very adventurous." "She came from Texas, and she carried that kind of robust, jocular goodwill," he said. "She saw things in a positive light."
And despite his father's lack of encouragement in Redford's passions, he told Esquire he inherited his mother's "'Let's go for it' spirit". "My mom felt I could do anything. She was the only one who told me that, the one who really did believe that I was gonna do things. She encouraged me to constantly be opened up," he stated.
But soon tragedy struck his family. When the actor was just 18 and in the first year of college in 1955, his mother passed away at the age of 40. “She had a hemorrhage tied to a blood disorder she got after losing twin girls at birth 10 years after I was born,” explained Redford to Fox News. He also revealed that though his mother was informed by her doctors about the dangers of having another child after his own difficult birth, she was determined to pursue her own dreams.
“She wanted a family so badly, she got pregnant again,” said Redford, adding his mother's death “seemed so unfair.” “I took [her] for granted because that’s the way kids were at that age. My regret is that she passed away before I could thank her.”
"When I grew up and I realised what had happened, what she had tried to do, I realised, 'Oh my God, she really did encourage me to go out there and take chances.' As you go on in life, you think about regrets before you go to sleep at night. I realised too late that she had a very positive role in my life and I couldn't thank her," he told Esquire. However, though his grief is immeasurable, he told People that her death, "in an odd way, [it] freed me to go off on my own, which I’d wanted to do for a long time."
And one of the things he did was get married to Lola Van Wagenen in 1958, when he was 22 and she was still a teenager. Of that marriage, he stated, “Obviously, I don’t want to denigrate the person I married, there were a lot of good reasons. But I have to say it was to save my life. That’s what it felt like at the time.” Together for 27 years despite losing their first child to sudden infant death syndrome and having three more children, they did divorce in 1985.
“[My family] feared that I was going to go off the deep end, or that I would never amount to anything, or die at an early age,” said Redford who didn't regret getting married so young after his mother's death. “I wanted to prove them wrong.” And he did, in the most spectacular way. Now married to artist Sibylle Szaggars and retired, Robert Redford gets to live out the rest of his life enjoying it, knowing that wherever his mother is, she's looking down at him and smiling.