Robert Redford
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Credit: Photograph by Mark Seliger

A couple of days later, the guys found a flattened Porsche that fell off a railcar. Redford had them wrap it up in newspaper and put a ribbon around it. He then had them drop it on Newman's back porch.

Two weeks passed, and Redford heard nothing. One day he came home and opened the door, and in the foyer was a large wooden box. He got a crowbar and a hammer to open it. It was just a big block of metal.

"He put it in a block," says Redford. "I didn't say anything. So I called a friend of mine, a sculptor in Westport and said, ‘If I give you some material, could you sculpt it?' "

She said yes. The towing guys took the block to the sculptor. About three weeks later, she finished, and – according to Redford – it was an abomination. The guys put it in Newman's garden. "Neither one of us ever mentioned it," says Redford. "That's the kind of relationship we had. It was just fun."

After Butch Cassidy, Redford had power, but he used it like Newman, both embracing and rebelling against his image as everyone's all-American, underscored by Barbra Streisand's remark in 'The Way We Were': "Do you smile all the time?"

Between 1969 and 1973, when he starred with Streisand and then reunited with Newman in 'The Sting,' Redford made a slew of offbeat films, two of which showed his increasing rebellion against celebrity. In 'Downhill Racer,' Redford played a skier obsessed with becoming an Olympic champion. The movie ends with Redford's being carried off the slopes after an apparent victory. But there's one skier still on the course. For a moment, he's beating Redford's time. The crowd drifts away before the skier falls. Redford sees his ghost passing him by; it is just a matter of time before his moment passes. In 'The Candidate,' Redford is Bill McKay, a glib matinee idol of a senate hopeful. By the end of his campaign, McKay sees it's more about cosmetics than policy. Just before his victory party begins, the senator-elect turns to his campaign manager and asks, "What do we do now?"

It's a question Robert Redford is still trying to answer.

The gates outside Redford's Sundance spread are made of stone and cement, looking both ancient and modern. Back in 1963, when he was building his first real home, Redford became infatuated with the stone construction of Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West. He tracked down the one guy in Arizona who knew how to mix the stone and cement to get the same look. He spent a few days learning the skill and then built the gates himself. Much like Redford, the end project is both inviting and fortresslike.

He found his Utah place in the manner that he's made many of his career choices: He zigged instead of zagged. After high school in Los Angeles, he went to the University of Colorado, where he was supposed to play baseball but just drifted, failing out after three semesters. On one of his trips home, he took a wrong turn on old Utah Route 40 and found himself on a rough switchback road heading up Mount Timpanogos in Utah's Wasatch Range.

We're driving on some of the same roads in Redford's SUV, heading up to his spread above his resort. "I saw the back of the Timpanogos and said, 'Wow,' " says Redford as he takes a series of turns at too-high speed. "It hit me like a ton of bricks."