Robert Redford did a screen test for the lead role, but director Mike Nichols rejected him because he did not have the “underdog qualities” that the character required, according to IMDb.com. Redford reportedly asked him what he meant.
“Well, let’s put it this way,” said Nichols. “Have you ever struck out with a girl?”
“What do you mean?” asked Redford.
“That’s precisely my point,” said Nichols.
Still, Redford wouldn’t give up, insisting that his acting chops were up to the challenge. Finally, Nichols told him, “Bob look in the mirror. Can you honestly imagine a guy like you having difficulty seducing a woman?"
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