Sunday, September 17, 2023

Anatomy Of A Voice Cameo: Robert Redford In White House Plumbers

ne of the best elements of the highly entertaining HBO mini-series, White House Plumbers, about the bumbling team of ex-CIA and FBO operatives who broke into Watergate in 1972, is its strong cast.

Headed by Woody Harrelson, and Justin Theroux as Richard M. Nixon’s political fixers Howard Hunt, and G. Gordon Liddy; the five episode run, which premiered in May of this year, also features fine supporting efforts from Lena Headey, Judy Greer, Domhnal Gleeson, and Katherine Turner. 

But a surprise casting choice came in episode 4, “The Writer’s Wife,”from Robert Redford reprising, or literally phoning in his famous role as Washington Post reporter, Bob Woodward from Alan J. Pakula’s 1976 classic, ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN.

Sure, it’s an uncredited voice-only appearance, and it’s only a few lines, but its notable because they didn’t just use the audio from the 47-year old film, Redford newly recorded his end of a phone call with Harrelson’s Howard Hunt with a little change in the dialogue. So let’s compare the scenes side-by-side.


In ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN, Redford’s Woodward tries to reach Hunt first at the White House, then the Mullen public relations firm, where he is surprised to hear Hunt pick up. In White House Plumbers, Hunt receives the call at home.

Agitated, as he was before he ever got on the phone, Hunt replies:

This is the line that’s a bit different, as it originally went like this:

And this is how it goes down this time around:

The difference being that White House Plumbers got Woodward’s question to be more accurate - the crucial evidence of the envelope with Hunt’s name on it doesn’t appear in the 1976 film. Also Redford says “The Watergate” unlike the earlier take. Next, we see a shot of Woodward’s yellow legal pad where he notes Hunt’s reaction.

Hunt’s comment is exactly the same in both versions:

And from Redford/Woodwards end:

Hunt hangs up, and the cameo is done. Halfway through putting together this post, I found that someone had done a mash-up combining the scenes on YouTube - something I should’ve figured someone would do. I’ll leave you with it what one commenter calls, and I agree, an awesome Easter egg:

More later...

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