Duvall | In The Saddle.... Again
Duvall is high on my top actors/addictions list He's in
the dvd desert island collection deal. You know if you were stuck
on a desert isle
Depp, Lemmon, Cagney, Duvall, Deniro, Spacey,
Hepburn, Cusack, Hanks and Hoffman. Or you may as well feed me
to the fishes, see. So
when I had the chance to interview him again (we met for
I said, " Duh.Yeah!"
Talent has been in like 150 films each time he brings a delightful
realness to his characters. In Kevin Costner's beautiful film,
Open Range Bobby
(after talking with him once it's now "Bobby") plays
Boss, a gritty cowboy with a moral code as deep as the Baikal.
is the usual Duvall character; richly drawn, a river of emotion
beneath the façade and un- categorizable. Open Range
is an old fashioned cowboy movie, and in the hands of a lesser
talent, could have been an old fashioned cookie-cutter cowboy
movie. But Duvall exudes some kind of American aura - and the
purrfect cowboy. He along with the whole impeccable cast of talents,
created one helluva film.
time he talked about the Open Range, his favorite Westerns,
Apocalyse Now, the differences of acting style between
him and Marlon "boom-boom" Brando, and his matador clad
Hi Mr. Duvall.
Bobby. Love the film. With Boss from script to screen what did
you add to the character and did Kevin give you anything to add?
Yeah, I had a few things and he would add things but it was a
very well written script.
Kevin described Boss as a "hard man," is that how you
That's a word you use in Scotland - he's a hard man. Yeah, he's
a hard man but he has other sides to him. As we did it, I saw
imperceptivity; a lightness coming into him so without going for
it in an obvious way. There was humor that came into the guy.
These guys do have humor although these Western, cowboy types
are hard types. I was around some of them this past weekend in
Texas going through there and it's part of the American culture
I think, those guys. Their humor is different and I tried to find
that humor just to offset the hardness because you can't be all
[Aha! The secret to acting there kids! Anger does not equal yelling
and love does not equal cooing
of course I am paraphrasing]
The men in this film displayed a strong loyalty to each other.
How do you display loyalty to the people in your personal life?
Bobby: I think we're loyal but we criticize each other a lot.
I always say even my mother talked behind my back to a degree.
There are degrees of gossip. There are also fights within families,
fights amongst countries - it's human nature, I think. But there's
also loyalty there - a fierce loyalty is when an outsider comes
in and tries to invade that private circle. There's a guy I always
wanted to meet and I did when I was in Texas the other day - Buster
Welch. He was the foremost cutting horse rider in the world. He's
about my age. He said his ranch backs up to this guy's Sammy Wall
- he used to be a quarterback for the Washington Redskins who
I actually went to see years ago to get some stuff when I played
in Lonesome Dove. He lived in the middle of nowhere in godforsaken
country! [laughter] He said about 25 years ago, that Sammy wrote
an IOU to him for $51,000 for cattle and shook hands on it. When
time came to pay, bam, he got the $51,000. So that's the way it
was 100 years ago, I think, a handshake. That's the kind of people
they were. I mean you don't do that in the oil business in Texas
(laugh), I don't think. But there are still some people left like
that - not many.
That's so true. Shame. Do you think the straw that broke Boss'
calm back was after the bad guys killed Moze, Boss says `you killed
my dog too? Saying these men are just without respect for innocent
It was interesting because when we filmed that, I had a bit of
an emotional moment when I said `they shot our dog too'. I didn't
say it when they shot him, but when they shot the dog. So I guess
that was the thing that broke the camel's back. They went after
everybody including our dog so that's our whole family and that's
when vengeance set in. I think it shows the different types of
If someone would stoop that low, now we can go with you so that
we're with you and want you to kill them.
Exactly! Plus he killed the big guy. It's the white guys against
the white guys with the freegrazing thing. Boss had to go for
broke and make things right figuring he doesn't have that much
longer to live.
The gunfight was very intense. What were the challenges in shooting
Kevin had choreographed it so it's just working it out. It was
a minimum of 2 weeks shooting it and I think it's about 10-15
minutes on screen. It was a patient thing - by the numbers and
stunts; to keep it fresh and alive over and over again. It's a
Western so you have to have a shoot-em-up! [laughter]
Do you have a special love of Westerns?
I like them but I like other things too. It's something that I
feel whatever wisdom that I have, I can put into that going back
to the days when I was 13 or 14 years old, my uncle's ranch in
Northern Montana. I went there for the summers and worked the
cattle. There's always those things that go into the ingredient
and it's been in my past. English have Shakespeare, the French
have Alexander Dumas, the Russians have Chekov, but the Westerns
are ours. That's our thing that we own and we're really the best
at it. I guess I'm a part of that because in my own way, I'm a
patriotic guy and proud of my country. And that's part of our
Can you talk about the dealing with vengeance that Boss has and
since he's very determined to take revenge, but at the same time,
he's continually cautioning Charlie not to kill
Well, random killing, that anarchy thing? There's no justification
just going around shooting but if there's a specific reason, it's
more a legitimate eye for an eye - I don't know if that's the
right thing to say.
Was that something that was explicit in the script?
I think it was in the script. We just went with it. But violence
goes all over the world - then, now and always will be.
Good point. So, what are some of your favorite Westerns?
Lonesome Dove - I loved that. I saw five minutes of The
Searchers and thought it was pretty corny and people said
that was a great Western. John Ford was a wonderful director but
back then, they used Italians and Armenians to play Indians. Now
with Dances of Wolves, they use native Indians who are
good actors. To show the difference between the old Hollywood
concept to now, wow! People disagree, but I thought what Billy
Bob did in All The Pretty Horses, was fantastic. It didn't
go anywhere. Kevin said to me he liked part of it and asked what
I liked and I said I liked all of it. Probably the 3-hour version
would have been better than how it was cut. I don't know the novel;
I only read part of it. I liked Red River. And The Shootist
and John Wayne - oh god, was he terrific! All that stuff he did
before, he really connected on this. I think he was dying of cancer
at that point. And The Grey Fox - Farnsworth was brilliant.
Can you understand the rancher's point of view about freegrazers?
They just wanted to "protect their own"?
Well, there was no fencing. I don't think they owned it. It was
kind of like government land but some guy would say OK, this is
mine. On my uncle's ranch, they said they would up to the hills
of Montana near the Canadian border - and a guy would go up at
the turn of the century and said OK, all the land from there as
far as you can see to there, is mine. He'd lay down an informal
fence and that's where they'd graze their cattle. But there could
be obstructions - Indians, other white guys
days and barbed wire, I think, is like public land. Some people
would lay claim to it and when these smaller guys come in, they
get rid of it. But in a way, the smaller guy has just as a right
to it too because it's not deeded land. The corruption being like
it is all over the world today and always was, that this town
is owned by this guy and everyone is on the payroll.
I loved the wild flooding scene -Can you tell me a little behind
When we first saw this town which was built, they had this long
narrow gulley built the whole length of the town and had put in
pipes for the water. When we did the scene at night, which is
hard to work at night w/the water, they had 3 dogs who looked
alike and they were all trained to go down and he'd grab them.
He'd say Action! And the dog would go one way. And he'd say Cut!
The next dog would go this way [laughter] and finally one dog
went the right way so he could grab it as if it was being drawn
to his destruction. We worked at night with the wind machines,
rain machines and that water they'd turn on. Did it look pretty
Oh yeah. Completely real.
Those special effects guys are amazing.
If you lived back in those days would you have preferred being
a saloonkeeper or freegrazer?
Wow, neither. Probably a freegrazer more. But I liked when they
ended up in a small house at the end of town still had horses
and some cattle and didn't have to sleep on the ground for 10
months of the year. They said on those cattle drives, which only
lasted 20 years of our history, the biggest thing was lack of
sleep. They couldn't get a good night's sleep. [laughter]
What's been your most challenging film to date?
Playing Joseph Stalin. Being there with the changeover and the
residue of what was left of the political party. It was tough.
It was interesting. The first 2 weeks in Budapest, Hungary was
very nice. The other 7 weeks in Moscow were pretty dark.
What were your thoughts of the Apocalypse Now redo that
Well I liked it because it made my part a little better. But I
was showing my tango film at a festival about 2 months ago in
Sicily and that's where they showed it at an old Greek theater
100s years old with 4,000 people under the stars and when they
showed it, they said that when all that napalm went off behind
my character, Mt. Aetna erupted simultaneously.
Is there another movie or project coming up that you'd like to
Not right now. I don't have anything right now I'd like to do
but I'd like to find some. I'm working on a few documentaries.
Luciana's [his wife] doing one on Billie Jo Shaver, the country
singer and one on this great speech therapist, Bob Easton. After
Sicily and Italy, we went to Spain and you know how you just take
photographs and videos, so I decided let's make a documentary.
There's only about 25 guys in the world who fight and kill the
bull from a horse - it's unbelievable. So Luciana and I made this
little documentary. Luciana dressed up as a matador and she rode
out with these 2 bullfighters and they dropped this key from way
up in their hat and she brings it back and it's the key that opens
the door for the first bull. So we did a documentary just to do
it. Well, of course, Jimmy Caan left me a message saying he had
already done that in Mexico - he's always ahead of you (laugh).
I call him Allstate Everything. He's a funny guy - he'll try anything.
Do you know that country singer?
What an interesting guy. Willie Nelson calls him the best songwriter
alive. He's a crazy, wild guy. He married the same woman
3 times and then she died, his mother died and his son died all
in one year. Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash - they've recorded his
songs. Documentaries are great. I learn about acting from them
all the time - behavior.
I love documentaries.
I like to watch them for my acting. I think Brando used to watch
Candid Camera (laugh) to see real behavior. When I did The Chase
with him and he's like Action, [takes on a Brando accent and does
a Brando mumble] Cut! It's all the same. There's no beginning,
it's all one thing. So I tried to learn that from him way back
when I was younger.
What was it like working with him on The Godfather?
We had some fun. [laughter] I haven't talked to him in awhile
maybe 3 years, but he's still trying to remember a joke that Jimmy
Caan told 25 years ago. [laughter].
as much fun as me sipping tea with an acting legend I'll bet
Man, I could sit all day with this guy. He reminds me of a family
member- so comfortable - I'm sure most people feel that way with
Mr. Duvall he's just a warm open likable guy - with extreme talent