He also wanted to make another film with Fonda before dying.
Both 81-year-old Redford and Fonda were honored with the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the festival on Friday.
“Jane and I have a long history in film and I wanted us to have another chance and we are getting older,” he said.
The movie, which screened in the out-of-competition section at the festival, tells the story of Addie Moore and Louis Waters, two retired and widowed neighbors living in a small town in the U.S. state of Colorado.
They have known each other most of their lives but rarely spoken. That changes when Addie knocks on Louis’ door one night and asks: “Would you be interested in coming to my house sometime to sleep with me?”
What starts as simply having bedtime conversations to help Addie fall asleep, soon goes deeper.
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They start sharing their long-silenced regrets about life-changing events in their married lives – Louis’ extramarital affair and Addie’s loss of a daughter – and the resulting difficult relationships with their adult children.
“For me the movie is about hope,” Fonda said about the adaptation of a Kent Haruf novel.
“If you’re willing to make a leap of faith, you can become what you were meant to be even if you’ve never been that before.”
While Redford lamented the fact that when you get older “you have to give up certain things”, Fonda said at least when it comes to love and sex, getting older was a good thing.
“It gets better because we’re braver, what the heck do we have to lose? So my skin sags, so does his. You know your body better so you’re not afraid to ask for what you need,” she said.
“So although we never actually get to see the sex in this movie of ours, I think it’s great that they still want to have sex and that they do and they become profoundly together.”