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Castro visits Redford in Havana hotel

January 27, 2004|From Reuters

HAVANA — Cuban President Fidel Castro, who has charmed some of Hollywood's biggest names, paid a call to actor Robert Redford at his Havana hotel Monday and discussed Redford's latest film, about revolutionary icon Che Guevara.

Redford was in Cuba over the weekend wearing his producer's hat for a private screening of "The Motorcycle Diaries" for the widow and children of the legendary Argentine guerrilla fighter, who was Castro's comrade-in-arms. "He came to me.... He seemed in good health, good humor, good spirit," Redford said of the 77-year-old Cuban leader after their brief encounter at the 8Hotel Nacional.

Redford last saw Castro in 1988. The actor was said to have gone scuba-diving with the Cuban leader and was later questioned by U.S. officials.

Castro has fascinated Hollywood stars. Jack Nicholson called him "a genius," Oliver Stone said he was "one of the Earth's wisest people" and Steven Spielberg said he spent "the eight most important hours of [my] life" with the Cuban leader.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday January 28, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 46 words Type of Material: Correction
Spielberg quote -- An article in Tuesday's Calendar about Fidel Castro visiting Robert Redford in Havana quoted director Steven Spielberg as saying he had spent "the eight most important hours of [my] life" with Castro. A spokesman for Spielberg said he never made such a statement.

"I came to present the film that I produced on Che Guevara and I am very happy to be in Cuba," Redford said at Sunday's screening of the film made by his company, Southfork Pictures.

The film, directed by Brazilian Walter Salles, is based on the diaries Guevara wrote on a nine-month trip through South America in 1952 when he was a 23-year-old medical student. Guevara's journey opened his eyes to poverty in Latin America and he later joined Castro in Mexico, where the Cuban leader was organizing a landing party to launch a guerrilla movement in Cuba that triumphed in 1959.

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