Quint interviews the legendary Robert Duvall! We talk Get Low, Don Quixote, James Caan and much more!
Published at: Aug. 3, 2010, 6:34 p.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with this crazy-awesome interview with Robert Duvall. If I could sit down with this guy for an hour we’d probably get the best interview ever run on this site, bar none.
I mean, the below chat is 13 minutes and Duvall is so open and blunt that we cover everything from his current slate of films to his work on Godfather, The Outfit and some really awesome friendly ribbing at one Jimmy “The Dream” Caan.
Going into this interview (which took place a couple months ago… I was asked to hold it until closer to release. Now the film is out you can read all about it, finally!) I was told that he might back out, he might only be doing the roundtable, but then, as I was going to chat with Bill Murray and Sissy Spacek, they grabbed Duvall and kind of cornered him into doing the chat.
That’s not the best way for me to go into an interview, if the interviewee is kind of forced to be there, but Duvall was a pro and was extremely engaging from the first question.
It was an honor for me to talk with the man and I hope you guys enjoy the chat. We cover a lot of ground, so buckle up!
Robert Duvall: It’s on the Internet, so young filmmakers can exhibit their stuff.
Quint: Oh, that’s cool. You are in a film that I love that I think is criminally under seen called THE OUTFIT.
Robert Duvall: Other people have said that. What’s that guy… James Bacon, the writer from 95, he liked that film when we made it, but they couldn’t show it because some people with organized crime said “You can’t show it.”
Robert Duvall: Because it made them look bad or something like that, yeah. Robert Ryan… Nice guy that Robert Ryan.
Quint: I’m such a big Robert Ryan fan. THE SET-UP…
Robert Duvall: I like it, but I Mitchum a lot…
[Kraken asks if pictures are okay.]
Robert Duvall: Yeah, go ahead man, whatever you want to do. While we talk is more natural. But yeah, good guys.
Quint: Quentin Tarantino is actually the one who introduced me to the movie… He runs a film festival here.
Robert Duvall: He’s got this thing for old films. Tarantino [Laughs] That guy!
Quint: Yeah, but it’s kind of the perfect movie for him to rediscover and introduce to people, just because it’s such a harsh movie. I just love how crazy it gets.
Robert Duvall: Yeah, it’s been a while since I have seen it.
Quint: It’s based on the Westlake stuff, right? Donald Westlake?
Robert Duvall: The guy that directed it hadn’t done anything since, I don’t think. John… had an Irish name… John Flynn or something like that. It’s been a while.
Quint: That’s crazy, but yeah I’ve got to say I loved GET LOW. It’s such a…
Robert Duvall: It’s a nice film. It’s sweet… very original… not a remake.
Quint: Not a remake. Not a sequel.
Robert Duvall: Did you see CRAZY HEART?
Quint: I did see CRAZY HEART, yeah.
Robert Duvall: We did that last year, not this year. My company, we produced it.
Quint: Yeah and congratulations on the win for Bridges. That was such…
Robert Duvall: Oh yeah, he deserved it.
Quint: He was so good in that and I loved his speech, too.
Robert Duvall: Then we’ve got another script we have been trying to do for years.
Quint: Oh yeah?
Robert Duvall: A NIGHT IN OLD MEXICO with…
Robert Duvall: A French guy got a hold of me, a top young French director, he read it and within 48 hours he was here on his own dime. We’ve got him with us now.
Robert Duvall: He wants to direct if we can get the money.
Quint: Crazy. What’s it…
Robert Duvall: He did a movie called IN THE BEGINNING.
Quint: IN THE BEGINNING? I don’t think I’ve seen it.
Robert Duvall: It’s a true story where a guy creates this road to nowhere. He never pays anybody. He’s just a con man and eventually gets… the real guy got put in jail. Very interesting guy. He just came in last night and we are taking him around.
Robert Duvall: We are going to take him down to the border. It’s a pretty interesting script. We’ve had it for a long time.
Quint: What’s the movie about?
Robert Duvall: It’s about a guy that loses a ranch on a foreclosure and his grandson shows up that day, coincidentally, and he’s so lost he takes his son down to Old Mexico for one night in a whore house. It’s really an interesting script and this guy… a very talented guy this French guy. He’s Luc Besson’s protégé.
Robert Duvall: And he read the script within 48 hours, we call and he’s here.
Quint: So you know he has the passion for it. It’s not just a gig for him or an opportunity.
Robert Duvall: He’s a talented guy. He’s up for… What do you call the big grand thing at the Cannes Festival?
Quint: The Prix?
Robert Duvall: Yeah, twice he was up for it. He’s very talented. And then I’m supposed to work with Terry Gilliam in the next film to play Don Quixote.
Quint: I can’t wait to see it and I hope that movie comes together.
Robert Duvall: Well, I think it will, but I don’t know exactly when it’s going to come, because of all the issues with financing these days.
Quint: Poor Terry… I talked to him for PARNASSUS.
Robert Duvall: He doesn’t like America, so I told him “Come to Texas. You will like Texas!” (laughs) It’s like a separate country down here.
Quint: Gilliam would be totally at home here.
Robert Duvall: He’d love it, but yeah he doesn’t like America for some reason. I think he’s wrong, but whatever. He’s got his own reasons. Nice guy.
Quint: Yeah, but it’s interesting that you have this up and coming director on this project you want to do next and Aaron [Schneider], this is his first feature, so did you have the script first and you found him or did he find you?
Robert Duvall: Oh, he found us. They had the script. This guy is… This guy in France is young, but he’s done two films, some short films, and he constantly works on commercials. He’s a very bright guy, very good with space and movement and I like his work, so we will see if it works. We are taking him down to Boy’s Town, but it’s a little dangerous to go across the border.
Quint: Yeah, there’s been a little bit of drug activity there.
Robert Duvall: Yeah, but I love it down there.
Quint: I assume you’ve been around Austin before. You came out for ASSASINATION TANGO I know for a fact.
Robert Duvall: Yeah, it’s been a while. There’s another thing we maybe are working on, I’m not supposed to say, but it might be the best script I’ve ever read. Eric Roth…
Quint: Yeah, I know Eric Roth.
Robert Duvall: THE HATFIELDS AND THE MCCOYS, which is American Shakespeare.
Quint: That’s incredible.
Robert Duvall: So we will see if that comes. I’ve got three things we are trying to juggle, you know. Hopefully something can come through.
Robert Duvall: I always knew I was a late bloomer and I knew things would happen later on and it’s been nice.
Quint: What’s great about it is the industry tends to chew up and spit out people by middle age and then they don’t seem to want them.
Robert Duvall: Well it does, especially women. But you know I get more jobs now than before in a way. After THE GODFATHER II, I figured those guys would have their run. I had things like THE OUTFIT, but I knew mine would be prolonged more, then it would go into the future more and now Jimmy Caan’s trying to do jobs with me! I was doing things with him before. Yeah, Jimmy is one guy I keep in touch with, Jimmy Caan.
Quint: Yeah, I’ve heard nothing but really good things about him. I’m friendly with Chris McQuarrie, who directed WAY OF THE GUN and he wrote USUAL SUSPECTS. He worked with Jimmy on WAY OF THE GUN…
Robert Duvall: What’s WAY OF THE GUN? A western?
Quint: It’s a crime movie, but very much plays like a western. It’s from the early 2000s.
Robert Duvall: It didn’t just finish?
Quint: No, this is like ten years ago.
Robert Duvall: Yeah, Jimmy’s good. He’s crazy, but he’s good to work with. I said to Scott [Caan], I said “Is your dad working?” He says “He’s in New Zealand complaining.” He’s always complaining! (laughs)
Quint: How can you be in New Zealand and complaining?
Robert Duvall: He complains when he’s working. He complains when he works.
Quint: Yeah, but Chris told a great story about Jimmy Caan… about how he was intimidated to direct him on the first day and that literally at lunch Caan grabs him and throws him up against the trailer and is like “I’m an actor. I want you to direct me goddamn it! If you are going to direct me, direct me!” So he was like “After that, I didn’t have a problem.” That’s what he told me. It could be a Hollywood legend.
Robert Duvall: Maybe yeah. Jimmy’s always looking for work now. Before… whatever. We keep in touch. We had a border movie we were trying to do, but I can’t get the money. An interesting two part miniseries about these tick riders that ride the border with guns and everything to keep Mexican cattle companies over… I don’t know if we will ever get it done, but we will see. Maybe down the line.
Quint: We have to talk a little bit about Felix because the character that you play in this movie, I have to imagine for you it would just be so much fun to kind of play somebody who has no filter, who is not intimidated by anybody. He has no desire to impress anybody.
Robert Duvall: No, he’s just a guy living alone. He could have been a schoolteacher. He could have been a sheriff. He could have been many things. He’s not a dumb guy, but he chose to do what he did and live hermetically.
Quint: Just the fun of being able to play a character that doesn’t have those limitations.
Robert Duvall: Yeah it was very nice. Just to play moment to moment. Just to see what’s next. To go with your own flow and let things happen between “action” and “cut” you know. Talk and listen, listen and talk and see what’s next, you know.
Quint: I noticed there were almost two different love triangles in the movie…
Robert Duvall: You know, the German money guy came up with the thing and we never thought… I don’t think any of us said “It’s a love story.” This is a love story. It was the German that came up with it, the money guy.
Quint: Oh yeah? He figured it out before everybody else?
Robert Duvall: Well, after we did it, we over at Spain at a film festival…
Quint: Because you have the triangle between you Sissy and the dead girl, your ex-flame and then there’s also a little bit between you Sissy and Bill [Murray] where Bill’s character obviously has feelings for her.
Robert Duvall: Well I wouldn’t be standing here if it weren’t for Charlie Mitchell, the Alabama writer who came in and really turned it around and in a beautiful way. He’s a wonderful storyteller as a writer and even that thing, I didn’t even know it… She appears at the end and I go to it. I think that’s just wonderful.
Quint: It’s very poetic. The whole movie feels like a throwback where it’s not in a hurry to get to where it’s going, but it doesn’t drag you know, which I don’t know how you hit that balance. That’s something I’m going to have to ask Aaron.
Robert Duvall: They cut some out, but it’s true. It was a very special project. My wife’s favorite film… She’s very critical about everything, she’s from Argentina. It’s her favorite film that I’ve been in since The Apostle.
Quint: Oh yeah?
Robert Duvall: She loves this film. She loves this film more than CRAZY HEART or any other.
Quint: That’s great and it deserves it.
Robert Duvall: It’s very unique and it’s not a remake and they will never do a remake of it. (laughs)
Quint: Never say “never,” it is Hollywood…
Robert Duvall: They are doing TRUE GRIT now, I mean wow that’s strange, but why not I guess.
Quint: Yeah it’s interesting and Jeff’s in that one, so… But it’s the Coens, so it’s almost like you have to… If the Coens want to remake it, it’s something where you have to go “Well, if they are doing it, they are doing it for a good reason.”
Robert Duvall: Well let’s hope it’s better than that other thing they did there… O BROTHER WHERE ART THOU…
Quint: You didn’t like that one?
Robert Duvall: Hoo! No way. They patronized, looked down on the South like Hollywood does… The music was good, though.
Quint: Where did you guys shoot GET LOW?
Robert Duvall: Georgia.
Robert Duvall: Yeah, out in the sticks there. Nice people. They would show up at three thirty in the morning, stay till eight at night… They were wonderful people.
Quint: You could feel the location. You could feel the authenticity to it, everything from the production design to the actual…
Robert Duvall: Plus twenty-four days to shoot a period film, that’s tough. But it was a controlled locale, so there weren’t cars and everything… It wasn’t like in Chicago or anything.
Quint: You didn’t have to recreate New York City or something.
Robert Duvall: No, but it was a lovely film and great to work on. It really was. It was a nice character. He’s kind of like one of my uncles in Virginia… One of my dad’s brothers yeah. I didn’t go in with a specific accent, just the flavor. If you do Hatfields and the McCoys you’ve got to go for an all out deal.
Quint: Well, so what are you moving onto next? Do you think the Gilliam thing might be next?
Robert Duvall: Well, he’s supposed to be the fall. If we can get this THE NIGHT IN OLD MEXICO, which out of the blue suddenly came together… Some guy handed it to this French director and he loved it and if we can get the money, we start preproduction tomorrow. “If.”
Quint: “If” is the nature of the business.
Robert Duvall: All we need is three million dollars to get that. He can get some European money and also get us… I can’t get into Cannes Film Festival with my film, but he can get anything in there, this guy! He’s really one of the top young directors in France.
Quint: That’s great. Cool, well thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me, sir. I really appreciate it.
Robert Duvall: Yes, sir!
Told you it was a cool chat. Got one more, which will hit tomorrow… a two for one! Bill Murray and Sissy Spacek! It’s another fun one! Go see Get Low! It really is a damn fine film!
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