One of the most popular memes on the internet is a picture of a burly, bearded mountain man type smiling and nodding as the camera zooms in on his face. It is, of course, a brief moment from the 1972 film Jeremiah Johnson; the mountain man type is, of course, 38-year-old Robert Redford, playing a real-life mountain man. Except perhaps “of course” is not the correct term to use in this case, judging from an article on Splinter released Tuesday that boasts the headline “Did You Know the Nodding Meme Guy Is Robert Freaking Redford???”
“I have seen a ton of Redford’s films,” writes the site’s Nick Martin, “and I have seen this meme a million times, but until today I just thought this was some pleasant lumberjack rando. But nope! This blew my mind; I’m sure yours is likewise dripping out of your ear right now.”
Martin may have assumed, wrongly, it was just some “lumberjack rando,” but some had other ideas. The article prompted many on Twitter — their minds similarly blown — to confess they long thought Robert Redford was no less than Zach Galifianakis.
This in turn prompted those with some knowledge of the cinema to react with laughter and also abject horror.
It also inspired a meme of its own.
Now, in Martin and others’ defense, Jeremiah Johnson is 47 years old. It is not, as of this writing, available as part of any streaming subscription service; to stream it, you’ll have to pay upwards of three, maybe four bucks on plaes like Redbook or Amazon Prime. It’s a classic, but not of the ubiquitous order of other Redford all-timers, like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting, All the President’s Men or even Indecent Proposal.
Moreover, this meme’s version of Robert Redford does not, to be fair, exactly look like Robert Redford. His beautiful face is, for the one time in his career, buried under a ravenous, Grizzly Adams beard. He’s also squinting, obscuring his signature dreamy blue eyes.
So while you should know that that meme is a zoom into the face of Robert Redford in Sydney Pollack’s Jeremiah Johnson, and not the dude from Due Date, it’s at least arguably understandable if you don’t. And besides, now you know. And you may even plop down a few bucks to watch Jeremiah Johnson.
In any case, some people were simply relieved that Robert Redford was trending for a non-bad reason. (This one’s from The Way We Were, by the way.)