ROBERT REDFORD signed up for his new movie AN UNFINISHED LIFE in a bid to overcome his fear of bears.

The movie great swore he'd never work with bears again after he was attacked by a grizzly on the set of 1972 movie Jeremiah Johnson, but he decided it was high time to face his phobia.

He recalls, "There was a bear called TINY, who was a nine foot grizzly and I had a little session with Tiny that I'll never forget.

"I was making Jeremiah Johnson and the scene called for me to be chased by a bear. The scene got out of hand and the camera had a malfunction and I had to keep running around a tree and the bear got all excited so pretty soon he was really chasing me, and I had to jump into the tree to save my neck."

He reconsidered his no-bears clause for An Unfinished Life even though he was far from comfortable working with animal movie star BART THE BEAR.

He adds, "I would never take a wild animal, particularly a bear, for granted - even if they say it's tame. I would always be cautious and careful.

"I'm aware of people who worked with grizzlies and had many years of experience working with grizzlies suddenly being turned on and attacked. I was very cautious. It's not the most comfortable place to be with a nine foot grizzly standing in front of you."

In new film An Unfinished Life, which co-stars Jennifer Lopez and Morgan Freeman, Redford plays a grizzled rancher who rescues a bear from a zoo after it attacks his best friend and leaves him for dead.