Robert Redford Didn’t Want to Star Alongside Barbra Streisand in ‘The Way We Were’

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Barbra Streisand had a “controlling” reputation on the set. So when Robert Redford was offered a chance to work with her in The Way We Were, he at first was hesitant — to say the least.

According to director Sydney Pollack, Redford indicated the pairing with Streisand would not be a good fit. Author  Robert Hofler will offer a behind-the-scenes look at what went into the movie in his book, The Way They Were: How Epic Battles and Bruised Egos Brought a Classic Hollywood Love Story to the Screen. It goes on sale at the end of January 2023.

Redford, of course, did eventually agree to co-star in the film. He later became friends with Streisand, a friendship that reportedly remains today. But it wasn’t so easy at first.

“She has never been tested,” Redford told Pollack of Streisand, per Hofler. ” “Her reputation is as a very controlling person. She will direct herself. It’ll never work.”

Streisand was mostly known for churning out albums, as a singer. As well as for her work on the movie Funny Girl, a musical.

The Way We Were

“She’s not going to sing, is she? I [don’t] want her to sing in the middle of the movie,” Redford said.

Pollack and Streisand, however, were determined to get Redford to take the part. This despite Streisand’s reputation of being strong-willed on the set, as she started to place her focus on acting, as opposed to singing.

“Barbra had never worked with a really strong leading man,” Pollack said. “She has a tendency to take over a picture, just by the size of her talent and larger-than-life presence. It’s hard for a costar to stay in the same ring with her.”

Redford was finally talked into taking the part of Hubbell Gardiner, who falls for Streisand’s Katie Morosky.

The movie was such a box-office success that a sequel had been in the works for nearly a decade — but Redford said he was done with the role.

“It’s a powerful love story, and the sequel was important to me because these characters were so compelling.,” Streisand said, via Hubbell. “I wanted to know how their lives unfolded and I envisioned a story in which their daughter, now in college and politically active herself, inadvertently brings them back together. Both have changed in ways that make them more aligned politically, while their feelings for each other remain the same, so it’s inevitable that they reconnect. I still regret that we didn’t make it.”

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