''The Horse Whisperer''s bumpy ride -- Fallout from the production may overshadow the drama's successful opening

Is all well that ends well? For Robert Redford and The Horse Whisperer, the answer is yes…and no. The drama’s healthy $13.7 million opening last weekend may have won the actor-director some new friends at Disney. But the production’s bumpy ride may have earned him a few foes, too.

According to insiders, the film’s production problems — the location shoot in Montana ran long and over budget due to an unexpected rainy spell — caused an unseemly split between Redford and Whisperer producer Patrick Markey, a longtime colleague. ”Bob is really dissing Patrick,” says a source close to the film. ”The problems really wrecked their relationship.” Adds another set insider: ”Bob thought Pat was disorganized and didn’t understand part of that was [Redford] changing how he wanted things all the time.”

According to sources at the studio, initially the quarrel was about Markey demanding a full producing credit. (Markey denies that was ever an issue.) The situation was aggravated once the shoot got offtrack. ”This was a relationship that outgrew itself,” says a Disney exec. ”They’re both right, and they’re both wrong.” Redford’s publicist, Lois Smith, denies a permanent rift between the duo, who first worked together on Brubaker (1980). But, she notes, ”it’s not like they’re wedded to do everything.”

Markey concedes he had ”plenty of disagreements” with Redford, but adds he would work with him again. But the naysayers persist. Says a source close to both: ”They may have parted quietly, but they’ve parted.”

Meanwhile, some Montanans aren’t happy with Redford either. Locals in Big Timber, where the film was shot, are miffed that the credits don’t mention the area. The movie’s publicist, Kathy Orloff, says Redford was stung by previous criticism that A River Runs Through It attracted too many anglers to Montana’s streams. Still, locals were looking forward to the recognition. ”It’s unfortunate,” says Montana Film Commission director Lonie Stimac. ”The credit is usually a way to say thank you.”

(Additional reporting by Judy Brennan)

The Horse Whisperer
  • Movie
  • 164 minutes