Video: Redford visits role

updated 6/1/2005 11:52:21 AM ET 2005-06-01T15:52:21

Robert Redford played "Washington Post" reporter Bob Woodward in "All the President’s Men."  He also produced that film, which included various scenes of Robert Redford as Bob Woodward meeting his source in secluded locations. With the unraveling of the Deep Throat mystery Tuesday, Robert Redford sat down with Chris Matthews to share his experiences making the movie, working with Woodward and Bernstein, and the mystery of Deep Throat.

On making the movie

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HARDBALL HOST:  What made you decide that this movie would have a great audience out there? 

ROBERT REDFORD, ACTOR
:  I was attracted to the story, because I think that’s the basis of any good entertainment, starting with a good story. 

It was 1972 that I actually got involved with it.  At that time, it was a very, very small story. No one had any idea about the mushrooming effects of this small story involving two unknown reporters on the low end of the work ladder in our society doing something that would eventually bring down the highest position in the land. 
I got involved with Bob and Carl actually before they wrote the book.  Then they wrote the book and said they would let me have the film rights to it.  So, I had to wait for nine months while they wrote their story. 

In the meantime, all this stuff ballooned. You had to run against the obstacle that how Hollywood is perceived by substantial institutions like the press.  Are they going to screw it up?  Are they going to trivialize it? 

We had a lot of obstacles to get over.  Therefore, accuracy and authenticity and a lot of research became very important.  When I got that involved in the research with Bob and Carl, who were very generous and certainly very cooperative, I learned far more than I ever expected to know about Watergate. 

MATTHEWS:  You created an entire "Washington Post" newsroom, didn’t you, for the program, for the movie? 

REDFORD: Yes.  They were a little bit too out of control when we went in there.  You either had people trying to pretend like we weren’t there or people going into the bathrooms to put makeup on. 

It got so out of control that we said we couldn’t get our work done there. But we took it pretty seriously.  We duplicated the room exactly as it was. 

On working with Woodward and Bernstein
MATTHEWS:  Bob, did they tell you roughly who Deep Throat was or anything about him when you were quizzing them on the movie backdrop, the back-story? 

REDFORD:  No.  Obviously, that was a huge attraction for me, because of the cinematic, theatrical value.  I queried it in the very beginning.  And Bob and Carl— it was mostly Bob, because Bob had the contact not to reveal.  And I chose to honor that.  I didn’t feel it was my position to be aggressive about it and I didn’t.

I figured, if Bob ever wanted me to know, he’d tell me.  In the meantime, part of me hoped that it wouldn’t come out, because the mystery had such theatrical advantages.
All these years went by, but, no, he never told me.  I never asked.  I speculated.

On the Deep Throat mystery
MATTHEWS
:  What was your guess, Bob, in terms of the last third of a century to think about this? 

REDFORD:  Well, in the beginning, when it was hot, there were a whole bunch of names that went around, which I won’t bore with you. 

But, over time, I certainly remember that thinking that, whoever did this, whoever leaked, must have had some reason for doing it.  I did feel it probably was someone around the FBI, because I thought that they had some stake in it.  I read an article later that pretty much confirmed that the FBI was enormously threatened by Nixon’s desire to control all forms of government and based on what he did with the FBI and the CIA.

For a long time, I figured it was Patrick Gray, because it made sense that, if the FBI wanted to prevent themselves from being demolished by Nixon in his march for power, control, that they might have a stake in doing that.  I didn’t think it was Mark Felt but I did think it was someone in the FBI.

'Hardball' airs weeknights, 7 p.m. ET on MSNBC.

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