The 'Horse Whisperer' star admits the majority of his big blockbusters were "fun," but they "didn't totally satisfy" his acting needs, which is why he set up the annual Sundance Film Festival in the US to showcase new low-budget projects from independent filmmakers.
He told BANG Showbiz: "You could say I've been fortunate enough to work both sides of the aisle, starting early on in my career working in large Hollywood films. Most of which were fun and great.
"But it didn't totally satisfy what need I had, which was something more risky, more low budget, which is why I started Sundance, to include those people that may be shut out by the mainstream thinking. That would increase the respect for film. That's how it all began."
The 75-year-old actor believes there is a "hunger" for low-budget movies and he thought his home town was the ideal location to establish such an event because of its "independence and diversity."
Speaking at the Sundance London Film & Music Festival at London's The O2 last week, he added: "My country is known for it's diversity, and independence and diversity would come together. This diversity was not available in the mainstream. That's entertainment, but not at the expense of the more humanistic side of cinema. That's where we are. It's basically enlarging, it's not to deny those films because they're satisfying on a worldwide basis, I just feel that there's a hunger for these kind of films, and that's what we represent."