LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hollywood veteran Robert Redford returns to his childhood love of fantasy stories in "Pete's Dragon," a new Disney film about an orphaned boy living in a forest and his friendship with one such creature.

The fantasy adventure is a remake of the 1977 movie of the same name and this time movie features a realistic green-furred computer-generated creation of the dragon named Elliot.

Redford, 79, known for films such as "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "Out of Africa", plays Meacham, the father of forest ranger Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard) and the only one other than Pete (Oakes Fegley) to encounter the dragon.

Q: You're seen as this champion of independent cinema, so what was it that made you decide to go into this?

A: This was about a chance to return to my own childhood experience and remember times when I was a kid ... I loved stories that had magic in them. Then you grow out of that as you get older and you miss it. So this was a chance to play a role in a film that allowed me to step back into that time.

Q: How did you imagine the dragon? Did anyone give you any cues?

A: No, you really had to imagine the dragon because all you got when you were working was a pole with a tennis ball at the end and that was the dragon ... You had to imagine what the dragon would look like because it hadn't been developed yet. 

Q: What do you think this film says about the environment?

A: If we keep cutting down trees, if we keep cutting things away and taking things away, pretty soon there will be nothing left to take away. There will be no planet ... I think the film illustrates the value of something like a forest, the storytelling values something like an animal in the forest that no one believes exists. I think those are very important things in this day and age because we become pretty cynical.

Q: So how much would you say you live the life of someone who keeps their eyes open?

A: My eyes are always open. I'm always looking at what's beyond or behind what I'm looking at and also I love using my imagination. I exercise that because that's what storytelling is about. I love storytelling because I think we're bred on storytelling.

(Reporting by Rollo Ross; Editing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Jeffrey Benkoe)