He stares wisely at you, a glint in his eyes. His glorious beard and tousled blonde hair speak of afternoons spent peacefully navigating the pine-swept forest. He looks like he will help you if you are lost, share his baked beans and fresh creek water bottled in a canteen. He might have made that leather jacket himself. He is wholesome. He is kind. He nods at you affirmatively, because he is nodding guy meme…
We all know that meme. Affectionately called “Nodding Guy,” the meme is mostly used to show approval or agreement. It’s been in circulation since around 2012. And now, we finally know who the “Nodding Guy” is.
It’s Robert Freaking Redford.
It’s not Zach Galifianakis (sorry to disappoint) or any other man sporting extraordinarily robust facial hair.
The clip is taken from the 1972 film Jeremiah Johnson, in which Redford plays the titular character, a Mexican War veteran-turned-mountain man struggling to survive on the frontier. In the context of the scene, Jeremiah Johnson has just caught a fish.
The “Nodding Guy” discussion was reignited this week when Splinter writer Nick Martin shared his surprise that the GIF is Robert Redford: “I have seen a ton of Redford’s films, and I have seen this meme a million times, but until today I just thought this was some pleasant lumberjack rando. But nope!”
The (re)discovery of “Nodding Guy” has Twitter shook for different reasons. Some users can’t believe “Nodding Guy” is Robert Redford while others can’t believe his identity was even a mystery.
today i learned a not insignificant number of my colleagues never knew Robert Redford is the “nodding guy meme.” deeply disturbinghttps://t.co/qsthjcjLni
— Katherine Krueger (@kath_krueger) July 9, 2019
I had no idea that this was Robert Redford. pic.twitter.com/hQJS48rJMy
— Gremliny Nussboo (@emilynussbaum) July 10, 2019
WHAT??? I always thought it was Zach Galifianakis! pic.twitter.com/IsLK889kFV
— CB 🐻 (@MindAlteredPod) July 9, 2019
they look a lot alike lol
— hannah (@kittiespng) July 9, 2019
wait you mean that's not zach galifianakis???
— Nicky Woolf (@NickyWoolf) July 9, 2019
I'm undone. How did people think this was Zach Galifianakis, HOW?
Jeremiah Johnson is a HELL of a movie, btw. https://t.co/zwJRbjYZ9C
— human scum betty (@scarybetty) July 9, 2019
Weird because I’ve watched that movie probably a hundred times but always thought it was dude from The Hangover
— The Count (@TheRealCount123) July 9, 2019
HAVE THESE PHILISTINES NEVER SEEN JEREMIAH JOHNSON?
— Seymour Martin Dipset (@butleriano) July 9, 2019
My child just said, “who’s Robert Redford? A movie star? What’s he been in?”
— Hol (@HolsKitchen_) July 9, 2019
The lesson? Know your memes.
And lawn chair man is Jason Momoa! pic.twitter.com/xbk4mzq3ja
— Boyfoot Bear (@RevAndyKarlson) July 9, 2019