This photo provided by Broad Green Pictures shows, Robert Redford, left, as Bill Bryson and Nick Nolte as Stephen Katz taking in the view along the Appalachian Trail in the film, "A Walk in the Woods." The movie releases in U.S. theaters on Sept. 2, 2015.  (Frank Masi, SMPSP/Broad Green Pictures via AP)

This photo provided by Broad Green Pictures shows, Robert Redford, left, as Bill Bryson and Nick Nolte as Stephen Katz taking in the view along the Appalachian Trail in the film, "A Walk in the Woods." The movie releases in U.S. theaters on Sept. 2, 2015. (Frank Masi, SMPSP/Broad Green Pictures via AP)

Redford takes a walk through his classic buddy roles

LOS ANGELES — When Robert Redford first acquired the film rights to Bill Bryson’s memoir “A Walk in the Woods,” he knew exactly who he wanted to play his Appalachian Trail hiking comrade: Paul Newman.

Not only were the two men responsible for some of cinema’s most iconic duos — they were lifetime friends as well.

But the 11-year age difference was starting to become a problem. Newman, whose health was in decline, was afraid he wouldn’t be up for the physical challenges of the role. When Newman died in 2008, the project nearly died, too.

And then The Sundance Kid met Nick Nolte.

However strange it might sound for two contemporaries with long-running careers, Nolte and Redford didn’t actually know one another.

“I liked him as an actor. You could see that he had an undisciplined side in life,” said Redford.

Redford cast Nolte in his 2012 political thriller “The Company You Keep,” they hit it off, and “A Walk in the Woods,” out next Wednesday, came off the shelf again.

Nolte was actually a better fit for the part of Stephen Katz anyway — Bryson’s messy, out of shape, ex-friend who accompanies him on a misguided trek on the 2,160-mile footpath.

“Our backgrounds were very similar before I got my act together. I got my act together somewhere along the line, but earlier in my life I was a mess — undisciplined, out for adventure and risk. I pulled it together, but I could identify with that part of Nick,” said Redford.

Director Ken Kwapis said in the rehearsal process the two actors used their own personal histories to fill in the gaps of their characters.

“Part of the pleasure of watching Bob and Nick is reflecting on their respective filmographies. On one hand, the film is about moving forward in life, but on the other, it’s about two guys taking stock of where they are in life,” said Kwapis.

Redford, who just turned 79, reflects on some of his classic two-handers on the eve of the release of his latest buddy adventure:

“Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid” (1969)

“We played partners who bitched and moaned at each other but who were loyal to each other. I thought that was a nice dynamic,” said Redford, who first met Paul Newman on the project.

“The studio didn’t want me because I was not a name equal to Paul’s. I was just sort of moving up at that time. There was a big argument that went on for months and months. They said it had to be a star. (Newman) said, ‘Well, I want to work with an actor’ because Paul respected acting. Had it not been for Paul, I would not have gotten that break,” he said.

“The Sting” (1973)

“After ‘Butch Cassidy’ we became very close friends. ‘The Sting’ just sort of fell into place naturally,” said Redford. “What was interesting was the switcher-o. Paul had played these iconic, quiet, still characters in the past and that’s not what Paul is. He was a chatty, nervous guy who was always biting his fingernails. He always had tape on his fingernails. He used to chain smoke, before he stopped smoking, and was always drinking beer. He was a very nervous guy. He loved to have fun and play games,” said Redford.

“He loved to tell jokes that were so awful. He’d tell you a joke at 11 o’clock and he’d be the only guy laughing. And then he’d tell the same joke again at 2, forgetting that he’d already told it. We had to live through that,” he said. “But underneath all that was a slow connecting between Paul and me as actors.”

“All The President’s Men” (1976)

“The history of that project is almost more interesting than the project,” said Redford.

He started obsessing over the saga during a whistle stop tour for “The Candidate” when he overheard some journalists gossiping about the DNC break-in. When Redford asked what they were going to do about it, he was appalled at their apparent disinterest in poking around the suspicious situation. Redford continued to follow the story in the papers and was struck by the double byline of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

“I wanted to know who these guys were, who created all this disturbance,” said Redford. “I read an article in some minor publication and I thought, ‘Wow, one guy was a Jew, one guy was a WASP. One guy was a Republican, the other guy was a liberal. One guy was a good writer, the other wasn’t very good. They didn’t like each other, but they had to work together. Now that’s an interesting dynamic I’d love to know about.’”

Redford wanted to cast two unknowns, but the studio wouldn’t do it without Redford starring.

“So I went to Dustin Hoffman.”

More in Life

The procedure for this quick kimchi is much less labor-intensive than the traditional whole head method, and takes less time to ferment, making it ideal for first time kimchi-makers. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Garden fail — but kitchen win nonetheless

This quick kimchi technique is less labor-intensive than the traditional method

Kate Lochridge stands by one of her paintings for a pop-up show of her work on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, at the Homer Council on the Arts in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by MIchael Armstrong/Homer News)
Pop-up exhibit shows culmination of art-science residency

The exhibit by Kate Lochridge came about after her internship this summer as a National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration Ernest S. Hollings Scholar and Artist in Residence

File
Minister’s Message: The power of small beginnings

Tiny accomplishments lead to mighty successes in all areas of life

A copy of “Once Upon the Kenai: Stories from the People” rests against a desk inside the Peninsula Clarion’s offices on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Off the Shelf: Hidden history

‘Once Upon the Kenai’ tells the story behind the peninsula’s landmarks and people

Artwork by Graham Dale hangs at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022. These pieces are part of the “Sites Unseen” exhibition. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Apart and together

‘Sites Unseen’ combines the work of husband and wife pair Graham Dane and Linda Infante Lyons

Homemade garlic naan is served with a meal of palak tofu, butter chicken, basmati rice and cucumber salad. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Naan for a crowd

When it comes to feeding a group, planning is key

P.F. “Frenchy” Vian poses with a cigar and some reading material, probably circa 1920, in an unspecified location. (Photo courtesy of the Viani Family Collection)
Unraveling the story of Frenchy, Part 6

The many vital chapters in the story of Frenchy fell into place

File
Jesus, God of miracles, provides

When you are fishing or eating them, remember how Jesus of Nazareth used fish in some of his miracles

Sugar cookies are decorated with flowers of royal icing. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Blooming sugar cookies

These sugar cookies are perfectly soft and delicious, easy to make, and the dough can be made long in advance

File
Minister’s Message: What God wants you to know

Do you ever have those moments when you turn toward heaven and ask God, “What do You want with me?”

Eventually, all but one of Frenchy’s siblings would live for a time in the United States. Carlo Viani, pictured here in the early 1900s, also spent some time in Alaska. (Photo courtesy of the Viani Family Collection)
Unraveling the story of Frenchy, Part 5

By many accounts, P.F. “Frenchy” Vian appears to have been at least an adequate game warden for Kenai