They were as think as thieves, and now Robert Redford has opened up about his close connection to Paul Newman.

Until Paul died in 2008 at age 83, the two were friends on and off the screen, but their decades-long partnership almost didn't happen!

"The studio tried everything to keep me out of [Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid]," Robert has revealed.

robert redford

Robert & Paul in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"

"It all depended on Paul, and he said, 'Let's go for this.' Our friendship turned out to be very similar to our relationship in 'The Sting.'"

It was also a rare one. "He was an extraordinary human being, [and] I really do miss him," the 77-year-old confessed. "I have been too busy to have many close friends. It's my fault, the lack of maintenance."

Luckily, he has his wife of four years, German-born Sibylle Szaggars, 56, by his side. "She has a real sensitivity," he shared. "A European sophistication, which I really liked, an elegance."

robert redford