Robert Redford has never been shy about speaking his mind, whether the topic is politics, the environment, or the state of the movie industry.
Although the actor still shows up occasionally in the big-budget Hollywood movie — most recently "Captain America: The Winter Soldier"— for the most part he has been dedicated to helping filmmakers tell important stories that the Hollywood system won't touch.
Redford created the Sundance Film Festival, which has become the preeminent American film festival for independent filmmakers. He also stars in works by burgeoning talents.
His latest role in the movie "Truth" is a perfect example. In it, Redford plays Dan Rather during his controversial "60 Minutes" report on President George W. Bush's military record, which led to Rather stepping down as the anchor of "CBS Evening News."
Directed by first-time filmmaker James Vanderbilt — known best for his screenplays "Zodiac" and "The Amazing Spider-Man"— the independently financed movie, which also stars Cate Blanchett, is one that a studio would have nothing to do with now.
"Through the '60s and '70s, I enjoyed being able to do a large film and also at the same banner do a small film that I wanted to make," Redford told Business Insider during a press day for "Truth."
"I was very happy to do a larger film — either it was something that I liked or the larger films were good. But something changed in 1980. Hollywood became centralized and [the studios] were going to follow the youth market because that's where the money was. They weren't going to make these films that were more humanistic in nature and that's what made me want to start Sundance, to keep that alive."
Movies like "Jaws" and "Star Wars" made Hollywood completely change how it looked at the business. With "The Empire Strikes Back," and "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" on the horizon, the modestly budgeted drama would no longer have a place at the studio level.
Today, dramas at studios are mostly extinct — outside of a story that has awards-bait and a major star attached — with the focus firmly on big-budget blockbusters and, most recently, comic-book adaptations.
To Redford, it's simple.
"They're following the money," he said.
"Truth" opens in select theaters Friday.