Los Angeles (AFP) – From “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “The Electric Horseman” to “The Horse Whisperer,” movie star Robert Redford has spent much of his career in the saddle.
So it came as no shock to fellow cast members on the set of his latest movie when the Hollywood hero dropped everything to come to the rescue of a neglected gelding in the wilds of New Zealand.
“There was a horse who was clearly abused, who was tied to this wooden fence that was right by the freeway,” Bryce Dallas Howard, Redford’s co-star in the Disney fantasy “Pete’s Dragon,” told AFP.
“And we would drive back and forth to work and the horse looked emaciated and abused, and neglected — and there was no water for the horse, no hay.”
The cast and crew on location in the Redwood Forest, Rotorua, monitored the horse as they drove by several times, noticing that it remained tethered and was looking increasingly unwell, Howard, 35, said.
“Bob went and he got someone to knock on all the doors in the neighborhood and say ‘Is this your horse?’” she said at a recent publicity event for the movie in Hollywood.
“No one would claim it — they’d say ‘Yes, that horse is always out there’ — and so he coordinated with a rescue place and he himself went and rescued that horse.”
That wasn’t the only distraction holding up Redford as he was filming his part as old wood carver Mr Meacham in Disney’s remake of the classic 1977 adventure, which hits US theaters on Friday.
The 79-year-old veteran of more than 40 films got lost in the wilderness one morning when a helicopter pilot who was supposed to be delivering him on set dropped him off in the wrong place.
“I don’t know how that happened, “Pete’s Dragon” director David Lowery said. “There’s no one around. Did he and his assistant just get out and then the helicopter took off again?”
“They would have been lost — it would have ended poorly — but then a driver came by, someone driving a sports car just cutting through the country roads,” he added.
Redford and his assistant pushed aside energy drinks cans covering the back seat and got in, Lowery told AFP.
“He drives them till they see the set and get out. On the way he’s like, ‘Are you guys movie stars?’ He had no idea who he was,” the director said.
“Robert Redford was very happy that day. That was a fun day for him, just because that entire experience was so ridiculous. I think he really enjoyed it.”