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Robert Redford: ‘I Feel Out of Place in the Country I Was Born Into’

"Our civil servants have failed us," he said in a statement.

Robert Redford

Robert Redford at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival


Robert Redford may be done acting, but he’s not riding off into the sunset anytime soon. The actor, filmmaker, and Sundance Film Festival founder published “A Brief Statement About Big Things” on the Sundance Institute’s website yesterday, writing that he feels “out of place in the country I was born into” for the first time he can remember and that he has “watched with sadness as our civil servants have failed us.”

The overtly political speech was published the same day that Brett Kavanaugh’s ascension to the Supreme Court following a nasty confirmation process that once again emphasized how bitterly divided the country has become. Neither Kavanaugh nor anyone else is mentioned by name, but Redford citing “bigotry, mean-spiritedness, and mockery as the now-normal tools of the trade” suggests his anger probably isn’t directed at Amy Klobuchar.

Here’s his full statement:

“Tonight, for the first time I can remember, I feel out of place in the country I was born into and the citizenship I’ve loved my whole life. For weeks I’ve watched with sadness as our civil servants have failed us, turning toward bigotry, mean-spiritedness, and mockery as the now-normal tools of the trade.

“How can we expect the next generation to step up and serve, to be interested in public life, and to aspire to get involved when all we show them is how to spar, attack, and destroy each other?

“It’s hard to blame young people for calling us out, and pointing to our conflicts between the values we declare, and those we stand behind only when it’s convenient to partisanship. Many people are rightly calling it a damn mess.

“But I want to encourage you to dig deep for hope and civility right now—to try to make connections with people you disagree with, to be better than our politicians.

“We don’t have to share the same motivations to want the same outcomes. Let’s focus on each other, and strengthening our communities, and reflecting on what’s happening. Let’s live in justice and respect and let others fight it out now to the bitter ends.

“This is our country too. Every woman, man, and child in it, our American future.

“We’ve got work to do.”

Redford’s most recent — and, according to him, final — film is David Lowery’s “The Old Man and the Gun,” which premiered at the Telluride Film Festival last month and is now in limited release.

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