Redford, 64, sets his face against Hollywood's 'sick obsession' with nips, tucks and facelifts

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Robert Redford, among the most naturally good-looking actors in film history, has condemned less blessed stars who resort to plastic surgery as "vain and insecure".

Hollywood has developed a sick obsession with staying young that leaves many actors looking bodysnatched, said Redford, who has reached 64 without succumbing to the temptation of the surgeon's knife to cut away the years.

He became a screen icon in 1969 when he teamed with the more rugged Paul Newman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but inevitably his boyish good looks have become lined and craggy with age.

Interviewed before the annual Sundance Film Festival in Utah, which starts tomorrow, Redford said he would not countenance cosmetic surgery. "I'm not a facelift person," he said. "I am what I am. I'm not jumping on the Hollywood bandwagon and turning the clock back with a facelift.

" So what if my face is falling apart? I don't give a damn. Anyway it gives me character. Everyone thinks they can stay young for ever, but some come out of Beverly Hills surgeries looking scary. Everyone in Tinseltown is getting pinched, lifted and pulled. For many it's become a sick obsession. They lose some of their soul when they go under the knife and end up looking bodysnatched. People should preserve their time in history. I'm happy to make the best of what I've got."

His contentment is out of fashion in a Hollywood where a facelift is thought a necessary accessory, with pool, Beverly Hills mansion and personal trainer. The singer and actress Cher, now 55, was among the first stars to go public about plastic surgery, admitting she has artificially improved her nose, teeth and breasts. "I have become the plastic surgery poster-girl," she said. "It bothers me sometimes, but not enough to hold back my progress. Everybody over 50 needs a little help. It's worth every penny."

Julie Christie gave in to the surgeon's knife four years ago at 57. "I fought against it because it was not something I wanted to do," she said. "But it's hard, very hard going to America, where people who are older than you appear to be younger. That is really undermining."

Even Redford, possibly chastened by starring alongside Brad Pitt, Hollywood's leading male sex symbol, in the thriller Spy Game last year, has confessed he tried natural remedies for sagging jowls.

While preparing for interviews, he said, he splashed icy water in his face to tighten his muscles, but gave up when it had no effect. "I like the way I look," he insisted, but added ruefully: "I guess I'm not holding up as well as Paul Newman."

Newman is 77 this month.