Robert Redford interviews The Hatchet

I’ve done my fair share of interviews, and in every one of them I felt like the interviewer, but this was not the case as I sat down with Robert Redford. As I settled in something became clear: Redford was interviewing me.

“Take a seat. It’s all right. I would rather talk with you than a member of The Post,” Redford said. “After all, it’s your generation who’s going to be running things.”

“So you’re with the GW paper, right?” Redford asked.

“That I am,” I answered.

“I saw GW today. It’s a pretty nice school. What do you think?”

What I was thinking had nothing to do with my opinion of GW. Rather, I was picturing University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg casually mentioning to incoming freshmen that Robert Redford thought GW was nice.

I answered, “Yeah, it is.”

It was a perplexing situation. In a flurry upstairs there was a mob of people who would have fainted had they come face to face with their idol Robert Redford, yet as I sat down next to him it felt like a chance, nonchalant meeting on the subway. He was no celebrity, no god, no untouchable icon; he was simply interested in what the younger generation has to say.

“Do you mind if I ask you something?” said Redford “I’m interested, what do you think contributes to the apathy present in young generations today? It worries me.”

I told him that unlike prior generations, we had no great revolution in which to fight, no unifying factor; that movies played a great role in our lives, but only to the extent that we would quote them in order to feel a unity that didn’t exist elsewhere.

“I agree, it’s a problem. Especially if that movie is ‘Terminator 3,'” Redford said. We laughed.

“It concerns me because there are a lot of issues out there that need the attention of your generation,” he continued. “Whether it’s politics or something dealing with environmental issues, it’s all stuff that’s going to be greatly affecting the future.”

I told him it was hard to care about such matters considering what a fishbowl we live in.

“It’s true, we have it pretty good here. If you look around, it’s hard to tell what problems exist out there,” Redford responded.

A PR agent entered the room and apologized for having to take me away. “We have to get more middle-aged people in here to take pictures with.” she said.

“But I haven’t even answered any questions yet,” Redford protested. “I have enough middle-aged people around. I’m aged. It’s youth I’m trying to get more of.”

The photographers flashed some more pictures and Redford thanked me for sitting down to chat. As I got up to leave he mentioned that he hoped I visit the Sundance Film Festival some day. I shook his hand, thanked him and left.

“Damn,” I thought.”I probably should have asked about the Sundance Institute, about his activism in the political world, about his legendary career.”

Then again, had I done that, I would have been just another interviewer. And after all, it’s pretty rare that I get interviewed, let alone by someone like Robert Redford.

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