The 1972 film Jeremiah Johnson is perhaps one of Redford’s best-known films. The gritty revenge thriller tells the story of the titular character tracking down a group of murderers who murdered his family in cold blood. The film was full of intense moments of Redford taking on his enemies, with both guns and hand-to-hand combat.
But three years later, in 1975, Redford was injured for real in a visceral battle in the movie Three Days of Condor.
Redford played Joe Condor in the film, a CIA analyst who struggled against the forces of evil. One scene showed him being attacked by an undercover assassin as a postman.
The postman was played by professional wrestler Hank Garrett, who recalled accidentally putting his elbow on Redford’s nose while the camera was rolling. He said: “We had this fight where there was mineral oil all over the floor. I’m supposed to do this simple sweep on my knee. He slipped all over the oil and came at me head on. first. And I came with my elbow. Next thing you know, I end up hitting him right in the nose with my elbow.”
Redford was of course shocked by what happened. But her reaction surprised even Garrett.
Redford bluntly announced, “This is probably the greatest fight scene in the world. Oh, and by the way, you broke my nose.”
Garrett remembers thinking his whole career was about to end. He continued: “My reaction was, ‘Oh my God, no.’ There’s blood pouring out of his nose. I think it’s over for me. I said, ‘Oh my God, I’m never going to work again!'”
Fortunately, Redford was cool about the whole situation.
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Redford told the Daily Express: “I’ve always doubted myself. It’s been one of the biggest demons in my life. never really enjoyed the spotlight.”
In fact, he even stayed away from watching himself act on the big screen.
He said: “It took me 31 years to see The Sting”, before adding: “I had films like Barefoot In The Park and Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid, so it was starting something. But it didn’t really work well until the 1970s. So what do you do then? Stop and enjoy the moment? You can’t stop – or at least I can’t. I was just a freckled kid known as ‘hayhead.’ I never expected to be an actor, let alone what they call a ‘star’.”
Redford added that he lived in fear that someone would end his trip.
Redford, who has worked in the film industry since 1958, said he expects his success to end any day now. He revealed: “Any success for me has been quite honestly a bonus. I’m taking the same attitude today. I’ll keep going until someone says, ‘Stop, we don’t want you anymore’ or until until I drop dead the soonest.”
That hasn’t happened yet, and at 85, it doesn’t look like it will be any time soon.
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