It’s never too late to unearth dark and unexpected secrets. And if they’re foreign, even better. It seems to be one of the ruling maxims in Hollywood that is not looking back as it tries to continue its history full of glamor and inflated egos. In addition to films and series based on the lives of stars of yesteryear, it is also a time for journalistic investigations that shed light on parts of that story. A book was released based on this week’s behind the scenes the best of our lives (1973), which reveals behind the scenes the most rosy of the two stars who headlined the cast, Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand.
the title of the book is The Way They Were: How Epic Fights and Bruised Egos Brought a Classic Hollywood Love Story to the Screen (That’s Right: How Epic Battles and Wounded Egos Brought a Classic Hollywood Love Story to the Screen) and is written by Robert Hoefler, a specialist in reviewing great productions from the past and the mecca of cinema. There, he revealed, among other details, that Redford wore two tight sports briefs during the sex scenes to “protect” herself from Streisand, whom he did not consider “a serious actress” and that she was “one of four children”. happily married father”. ,
In the film, which was shot between August and November 1972, Redford played the role of Hubbell Gardiner, a man who used his class, race, and gender privileges to make no mistakes. Streisand is Katie Morosky, a politically engaged Jewish woman. Beyond the obvious differences, the characters fall in love, marry, and move to California together so Hubel can fulfill his dream of becoming a screenwriter. And there the old tension resurfaces.
In addition to being a commercial success, the film received rave reviews and two Oscars. One of them was for Best Song for “The Way We Were” sung by Streisand. Interestingly, when Redford proposed to his classmate, one condition was that he would not sing.
a tough guy
The book details all the reservations the actor had while receiving the offer. After reading the script, he told director Sydney Pollack that he was not interested because his character was “a Ken doll”.
It took Pollack eight months to persuade him. One of the main obstacles was, well, Streisand’s presence. He did not consider her “a serious actress” because “she had never been tested,” he believed. And he assured that his previous films were musicals or very light films.
“She has a reputation for being a very controlling person. She wants to direct herself. It won’t work,” he told the director. But at Pollack’s urging, he shot down: “She’s not going to sing, is she? I don’t want her to sing in the middle of the movie.”
Radford had many open fronts. Her bad relationship with producer Ray Stark was already a milestone in Hollywood. So while Pollock was urging him on, Stark had no intention of doing so. He regarded him as “an ungrateful navodaya”. So he gave the director an ultimatum: either Redford accepted immediately or he offered the role to Ryan O’Neal.
In the end, Redford accepted when, “to stroke his ego,” he was offered $1.2 million, $200,000 more than Streisand.
And then, the moment arrived in which the two heroes were to meet. And it wasn’t easy either: Redford refused to meet Streisand, assuring that “the less the actors know each other, the better the chemistry is reflected on the screen.”
After another round of begging, the actor agreed to have dinner with Barbara. According to the book, she “fell in love” with him immediately. Pollack, in turn, went further: “I was in love with him before I even met him.”
As expected, Redford was not very brave. “If we’re going to work together, you have to keep in mind that whatever I tell you about myself, I’m going to do it because I want to. Don’t think it’s because I don’t know you.” has any right,” he told her. The author assures that the effect achieved was the opposite of what he was looking for: Streisand loved strong men, and Redford’s speech attracted her even more.
It was time for the first script reading and, according to attendees, it was the moment their chemistry struck the room “like lightning”. Filming started late because Redford was attacked by a bat in his Utah home and had to be vaccinated against rabies.
One of the most tense moments was when they had to film the first sex scene. There, Streisand lies down next to Redford, but the character, intoxicated, falls asleep. She wakes him up and they have sex.
In the novel on which the film was based, he cites that first meeting early, and makes it clear that Redford’s character climaxes, but not Streisand’s. According to Pollack, the scene was mild enough to qualify as producer PG.
Hofler wrote, “To save herself in more ways than one, Redford wore two athletic bras for her love scene with Streisand, who chose to wear a bikini.” However, shortly after the film’s premiere, when a reporter asked him what he was wearing while filming that scene, the actor replied “perfume.”
The script required a second sex scene that sparked new sparks between the actors and crew. As it is written, the protagonists feed each other grapes, and when the temperature rises, Hubbell tells Katie: “It’ll be better this time.” However, Radford flatly refused.
The authors state that the reason for this was that the actors did not want their image to be affected. Stark was convinced that Redford should say the line because it humanized the character and showed some regret for the way he had treated Katie in a previous meeting. He sent Pollack a dozen memos demanding that he ask her to say that line, but it never happened.
This was not the only point in the script that the actor considered a blow to his ego. In another scene where Streisand brushes Redford’s bangs, she was supposed to say that the hair was gray, but that phrase was not even spoken. The book states, “If Hubbell had never been bad in bed, his hair would not have turned white either.”
no more questions
As soon as they met on set, it became clear that the leads had very different personalities and almost opposite ways of relating to work and their partners. Redford never wavered from her “overwhelming cheekiness” and Streisand was a “worrisomely anxious” bundle.
According to the author, the actress began asking the director and her co-star “constant questions”. It was not unusual for Pollack to receive a lengthy phone call from Streisand at 11 p.m. to discuss what had happened on set that day and what would happen the next day. For the director, “It was not a problem, but it took a long time.”
But not all were equally forthcoming with Streisand. An intern told the Post-Star & Times, a local newspaper: “Streisand is hard to work with. She often disappears and we have to wait. She never socializes with us and always comes to lunch. Time flies by. Redford talks and jokes a lot with everyone.”
To add a little more struggle to a complicated filming, one detail was missing: Both Streisand and Redford wanted the cameras to take only their best profile, on the left. She didn’t want the camera to pan her nose to the right. He didn’t like the mole on the right side of his lip.
For this reason, for example, during a scene in which they dance together at a graduation party, the actress noticed that the camera showed her a “spoiled” profile.