After years of trying to squeeze emotional memories out of the actor, Callan confesses: “I felt his spirit was still evasive.” The death of Scott was a devastating blow but only after the biography had been written did the actor speak publicly about the loss, saying in January: “It was really hard. In 1998 he confessed in an interview: “People think it’s been easy for me. There have been so many hits on our family that no one knows about and I don’t want them to for my family’s sake.” Tragedy almost struck again when his second son Jamie was born seven weeks’ premature suffering extreme hyaline membrane disease, a respiratory problem that almost killed him.Redford devotes just a few words to this heartache.It was a colossal relief for us.” Jamie would endure a lifetime of ill health, suffering ulcerative colitis, the removal of his colon, and ultimately liver failure requiring two transplants at the age of 30.After the first liver transplant failed, Callan says Redford and his son endured “12 of the worst weeks of both of their lives”.But when confronted with the most emotional moments of his life he is reticence personified.Yet the screen legend does admit to a crushing guilt, the sense that by choosing to lead the frivolous life of an actor and winning such lavish rewards he has invoked a karmic backlash from the gods. A darkness right on top of me.” Yet he does not want to explore that darkness or revisit it – and this reveals much about himself and the wounds that have yet to heal. “The doctors gave Jamie a 40-60 chance but he hung in.
It’s not that he is taciturn: he speaks at length about finding his motivation for a role, the intricacies of working with co-stars, his political activism and the splendour of the Wild West’s natural beauty.
But among the watershed moments that are dismissed in mere paragraphs or with little comment from Redford are the death of his first son Scott, the execution-style murder of his daughter’s fiancé and the two life-saving liver transplants which his eldest surviving son Jamie has undergone.
Some other seminal events also receive scant mention. We didn’t know anything about sudden infant death syndrome so the only thing you think is that you’ve done something wrong. That creates a scar that never completely heals.” Redford notoriously bottles up his pain inside. The hardest thing in the world is when your children have problems.
With his bride of barely a year Lola and still heady from their elopement to marry in Las Vegas, Redford seemed on top of the world.
But by the next morning Scott was dead, the victim of cot death, a syndrome that back then did not even have a name.Redford broke off from making the film The Natural and flew to Colorado to comfort his daughter, attending her lover’s funeral.