Albert Ferreira/Reuters
Rachel F. Elson
July 01, 2004 01:00 PM

Perhaps it just takes a Natural to know one. Acting legend Robert Redford is defending the skills of actress Jennifer Lopez, with whom he costars in the forthcoming An Unfinished Life.

“She’s a very good actress, let me tell you something,” the actor, who starred in The Natural, tells the Associated Press. “What, are they going to blame her for (Gigli)? I didn’t pay any attention to that. All I know is what I saw when I worked with her. She’s a natural talent.”

Lopez, who plays Redford’s daughter in An Unfinished Life, has endured catcalls recently for the failure of Gigli and raised eyebrows with her personal life, including her breakup with Ben Affleck and marriage to Marc Anthony.

Meanwhile, Redford, 66, also said he’s eager to work again with Paul Newman, with whom he starred in the classic Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

“We keep talking about it all the time,” he said. “I have one project that may or may not work for Paul and me. I think that, obviously, we would both like to do it. But it’s sort of surprising, considering the penchant for sequels and remakes and things like that, that more hasn’t come to us that would be viable for us to do as kind of partners.”

Redford is busy promoting his new film, The Clearing, which costars Willem Dafoe and Helen Mirren and opens in limited release this weekend.

Ironically, the actor – whose Sundance Institute and associated festival have given the independent film industry a strong boost – was reluctant to include The Clearing in the festival. “I was concerned about the appearance of being self-serving,” he said.

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