• Golden Globe Awards


He almost didn’t take the role in The Judge as he thought the character had too many negatives, but once he committed, he did so fully, and the result is a fully dimensional portrait of an irascible unlikeable old man bitterly estranged from his son (played by Robert Downey, Jr. who also produced) who for the first time in his life has to ask for help and show his vulnerability. “Well, you have to find that,” he explains. “Even when I played Stalin, I tried to find the vulnerability in the man. It all starts with talking and listening and it grows from that. If you do that in the purest sense without making it artificial, starting with zero, then you can be rewarded with something emotional around the corner because you’re in touch with yourself and you let that grow.”Born in San Diego into a military family, Duvall served in the U.S. Army for two years. He was considered something of a late starter in the business. His film debut in 1962’s To Kill a Mockingbird happened when he was 31; before that he did small roles in television shows. On stage he appeared in many Horton Foote plays, a collaboration that continued through his life – it was Foote who had recommended him for Mockingbird as he was the screenwriter on the film. (He also wrote the script for Tender Mercies.)Throughout his long career, Duvall has been in some seminal Hollywood films. In the 60s aside from Mockingbird, he was in the “definitive John Wayne western” True Grit, and in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Rain People. The 70s brought The Godfather I and II, Apocalypse Now, The Great Santini, The Conversation and M*A*S*H. 1983 was the year of Tender Mercies which finally brought him his first Oscar in the role of has-been country singer Mac Sledge. It was also the first film he produced. Then came the memorable television roles in Lonesome Dove, Stalin, The Man who Captured Eichmann and Gods and Generals (in which he played General Robert E. Lee) in the 90s and 2000s.Directing became a passion later in Duvall’s life. His first film as director was the well-received The Apostle in 1997 which he also acted in, wrote, produced and financed and for which he got Globe and Oscar nominations for his performance. A self-confessed tango addict, he also directed, wrote and starred in 2002’s Assassination Tango which starred his wife Luciana Pedraza. Pedraza also has a role in the upcoming Wild Horses.Duvall is always happy to reminisce. When asked about working with Brando on Apocalypse he had this to say – “I didn’t work with him directly. He came in the jungle in his baby blue Mercedes. That’s what he drove into the jungle. And he had his hearing aid and his lines fed to him, you know. He loved to eat. He would eat all the food. But he was kind of like our godfather as young actors.”Asked to reflect on his stellar career and pick a favorite role, Duvall says his heart belongs to Lonesome Dove. “Maybe I’ll be remembered for it. That’s my favorite.”