Robert Redford has spoken about how he wanted to make a film about Michael Collins prior to Neil Jordan's version in 1996.

At a public interview in Trinity College Dublin, he said: "Yes, I did. I remember my grandmother talking about him but I was too young to understand it.

"It’s a great story... a guy who flew so close to the sun... so reviled by one side and loved by the other."

Redford added: "When we were shooting 'Out of Africa' I asked a writer to write up a screenplay and a lot of the Irish crew [on the set] said 'that's not a good idea'.

"Then I heard that Neil was working on it. He did a thesis on it so... he got there and I didn't."

As well as paying tribute to his good friend and colleague Sydney Pollack, who died in May this year, Redford also shared his views on environmental activism and his frustration with the current Bush administration in the US.

Responding to a question about his rumoured Irish ancestry, the Academy Award winner said: "I've heard so much about it over the years, however I'm still not sure."

He then looked into the audience for Michael [Feeney] Callan and once he found him, said that the writer had covered the details in his much anticipated biography of Redford, which will be published later this year.

When asked to confirm whether he had a holiday home in Dublin, Redford said: "I love Dublin and I love Ireland, but no. I'd love to.

"I think the way things are in my country, it’s a good time to do it."

Redford was in Dublin to receive an honorary degree from Trinity College.