When the Sundance Film Festival asked if I’d be willing to
host a conversation with George Lucas and Robert Redford, it wasn’t hard to say
‘yes.’ Talk about men who have made a difference! I’ve been lucky enough to
interview them individually before, but the idea of having two such influential
people together onstage was irresistible.
What amazing careers they have had: an experimental
filmmaker who wound up creating one of the most popular movie series of all
time, on his own terms (and his own turf) and a handsome movie star who founded
the most important filmmaking lab and festival in America. They are justifiably
proud of their achievements and spoke of them to a packed audience at the
Egyptian Theater in Park City, Utah, where the Sundance Film Festival was born.
The overriding subject for the evening was independence.
Lucas spoke at length about how he managed to free himself from the shackles of
a studio contract and own his work. Redford recalled the moment he realized that
there was a crying need to help other budding storytellers refine their
craft—and have a place to show their films.
But there is one tidbit I learned backstage that wasn’t part
of our official conversation. I don’t know how it happened to come up, but
Redford told me that he got a job on the opening day of Disneyland in 1955: He
was an assistant to the cue-card holder who worked with on-camera hosts Art
Linkletter and Robert Cummings. Like everyone else who was there, what he
remembers was how chaotic (and hot) it was. Lucas listened to this, smiled, and
said he was there on the second day…as a guest.