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Butte actor recalls special time working on 'A River Runs Through It'

Iconic Montana film celebrates 30th anniversary
rob cox shoot the chutes.jpg
Posted at 4:25 PM, May 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-22 13:27:10-04

BUTTE - It’s the 30th anniversary of the iconic Montana film “A River Runs Through It,” and for one Butte actor who was in that film, it surprises him how long ago that was.

“It’s confusing to me, because I’m only 27, so every time I hear that it baffles me, I was negative 3 when I played a 21-year-old,” said Rob Cox.

Cox, who’s actually 53, played the role of Conroy in the acclaimed Robert Redford film. He was a theater student at the University of Montana in 1991 when he auditioned for the film.

He was a street actor in Virginia City playing a cowboy about to rob a train when he got the call telling him he got the part.

“You guys, I know this sounds weird, but I’m going to have to call you back because I have to go rob a train right now. Then we went and robbed the train and I called them back,” he recalled.

Playing a friend of the lead actors Brad Pitt and Craig Sheffer, Rob hung out with the actors on and off the set.

He recalls after a shoot Redford took the actors to the Road Kill Café in McLeod. Rob thought the patrons were going to be starstruck when they entered.

“So, we send Redford in first and then Brad and then Craig and then the guy playing pool just takes a shot, and then he looks up and goes, ‘oh, hey fellas.’ And it was Michael Keaton because he lives there. So, all of the wind out of our sails; oh, it’s Batman,” said Cox.

His role is small, but he has one big line — You can’t shoot the chutes, Paulie!

“You can’t shoot the chutes, Paulie, is the one people say in my face all the time,” said Cox.

The film is special to Rob because his father had just passed away from liver cancer right after Rob got the role.

“I stopped at my mom’s house to tell her all my good news and I say, ‘I need to get to a book store and get a copy of A River Runs Through It,’ and she said, ‘I have one, your dad was reading it.’ And so she gave it to me and he had his bookmark in it still, you know, so I was always really proud to be in it, just because I knew my dad would be super proud,” he said.

A screening of the film will be shown Saturday at the Ellen Theatre in Bozeman at 7:30 p.m.