It was the end of the summer of 1986. I’d only been back in New York City a short while after spending a good portion of the year out of town on publicity jobs, first in Belize for Peter Weir’s The Mosquito Coast, followed by a stint in Miami for Susan Seidelman’s Desperately Seeking Susan. I was exhausted, I had money in the bank, and I was making arrangements to pull up stakes in New York and move to Los Angeles. I wasn’t looking for work until I got a call from legendary publicist Lois Smith.
“Hello ducks,” she said. “Bob Redford is making a movie in New Mexico. It’s called The Milagro Beanfield War. I’ve told him about you and I’d like to set up a meeting. Are you interested?”
So much for my plans. I was going to meet with Robert Redford, and maybe even work with him! Woohoo!
Still, I was uncomfortable with this whole “Bob” thing. While I could see how Lois would call him that, as she’d known him for decades, I couldn’t imagine me calling him Bob. It made me think of high school, when my friends and I used to joke around like we were pals with Ingmar Bergman, and drop comments from our good buddy “Ing”. Bob seemed like the wrong name for Robert Redford anyway.
I only knew two things about Redford. The first was his reputation for being late. The second was that he had a playful sense of humor, as reflected in the series of practical jokes he and Paul Newman were always playing on each other.
When I arrived at the appointed time, Lois put me in a tiny private office, and informed me that he might be—surprise!—a bit late. I pulled out my stash of reading material from my shoulder bag: The latest New Yorker, my copy of The Milagro Beanfield War, that day’s Times, even a few sections of the Sunday Times I hadn’t gotten around to reading yet. I spread everything out on the desk like a picnic blanket, enough stuff to keep anybody occupied for a leisurely weekend at the beach. And then I buried myself in Arts & Leisure. I‘d barely read a few articles when I looked up to see a man standing in a doorway, grinning at me.
“Come on, I’m not that late!” he said.
I stood up to shake his hand.
“I’m Bob Redford,” he said.
“Hi Bob,” I said. (It just slipped out somehow.) “Good to meet you.”
I believe my little prank started my working relationship with Redford on the right foot. Yeah, I got the job, and even worked with him a few times after that. Some of working with Redford involved waiting; all of it was interesting, challenging, and fun. After all, if Robert Redford isn’t worth waiting for…who is?
Reid Rosefelt is a veteran film publicist based in New York City. He has promoted hundreds of films, for such diverse moviemakers as Jim Jarmusch, Pedro Almodóvar, Errol Morris, Ang Lee and Werner Herzog. His personal clients have included The Sundance Institute, IFC and HBO Films, as well as Harvey Keitel, Ally Sheedy and the late Adrienne Shelly. His production publicity credits include Desperately Seeking Susan, The Godfather: Part III and, most recently, Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire. His blog can be found at http://my-life-as-a-blog.com/.