Robert Duvall—Get Low—4/30/10

/content/interviews/310/1.jpgRobert Duvall made his first credited big-screen appearance as "Boo" Radley in 1962's To Kill a Mockingbird. Through the '60s, he appeared occasionally in films and prolifically on TV in guest-starring roles. He soon hit his stride with roles in Peter Yates' Bullitt (1968), Henry Hathaway's True Grit (1969), Francis Ford Coppola's The Rain People (1969), Robert Altman's MASH (1970), and George Lucas' THX 1138 (1971). He's probably best known for his appearances in Coppola's films: as Tom Hagen in The Godfather (1972) and The Godfather Part II (1974) and Lt. Col. Kilgore in Apocalypse Now (1979). His storied film career includes roles in Tomorrow (based on a William Faulkner short story), The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (as Dr. Watson), Network, The Great Santini, True Confessions, The Natural, Colors, Days of Thunder, Newsies, Falling Down, Phenomenon, Sling Blade, The Gingerbread Man, Deep Impact, A Civil Action, Gone in Sixty Seconds, Gods and Generals, Open Range, Secondhand Lions, Kicking & Screaming, Thank You for Smoking, We Own the Night, Four Christmases, The Road and Crazy Heart. Duvall takes particular pride in playing a Cuban barber in Wrestling Ernest Hemingway, won the Oscar as Mac Sledge in Tender Mercies, and unhesitatingly identifies his favorite role as Augustus McCrae in the landmark television miniseries Lonesome Dove; he has also made contributions to the American stage (productions of A View from the Bridge, Wait Until Dark, and American Buffalo) and is the director of four films: We're Not the Jet Set (1977), Angelo My Love (1983), The Apostle (1997), and Assassination Tango (2002). In his latest film, Get Low, Duvall plays Felix Bush, a hermit who tentatively ventures back into society to plan his funeral. Duvall came to San Francisco to accept the Peter J. Owens Award for acting; our free-ranging conversation at the Westin St. Francis testifies to Duvall's "just-folks"y gift for gab. Duvall welcomed me into his suite with a stream of friendly chat, the start of a freewheeling half-hour with the acting legend.

Robert Duvall: Where’s your people from?

Groucho: Well I’m from Italy and Portugal going back.

Robert Duvall: Italy?

Groucho: Yeah.

RD: Wow.

G: Yeah. My last name’s Canavese.

RD: I’ve been to Portugal. I liked it, man. I liked the food, the way they cooked it. Italy, too.

G: They have a good night life, too.

RD: Do they?

G: Like Buenos Aires, yeah.

RD: I like that fado they sing.

G: Oh yeah.

RD: It’s kinda like their version of what they sing tango in Argentina.

G: Yeah, yeah.

RD: Very sad and very melancholy. Yeah, you kinda remind me, yeah.

G: Well, I want to say, just to start out, thank you for all your great work.

RD: Oh thank you. I appreciate it.

G: You’ve been an inspiration.

RD: Thank you very much.

G: Both as an actor and as a—

Publicist: It’s not diet. Is that okay?

RD: What?

Publicist: It’s not diet.

RD: That’s fine.

Publicist: It’s regular.

RD: (Laughs.) I wouldn’t worry about diet now after all this food I’ve been eating.

Publicist: You can worry about dieting when you get home.

RD: Ah, it’s such good pizza down here at Tony’s. Have you eaten there?

G: I haven’t, no.

RD: He’s won the world championship in Italy.

G: Oh yeah?

RD: From here to there, yeah. Good pizza.

G: It’s funny. I was going to ask you about this. It’s funny that I came in here, and you were talking about this. Cause my take is that you really enjoy exploring America.

RD: Yeah.

/content/interviews/310/4.jpgG: And that you could have been a travel writer or kinda Galloping Gourmet.

RD: (Laughs.) Maybe! Yeah. I don’t know how I am at writing that kinda—like you guys. Maybe I could get somebody else to—well I could write it in my own words, I guess. Yeah. It’d be fun, I’m sure. I'm sure.

G: What are some of your favorite spots to eat?

RD: I’ll tell you my most un-favorite spot that I was looking for. The number one Szechwan chef in the world, maybe. Won everything in China. He started restaurants in Virginia where I live. And by the time I said I’m coming down, he said, "Oh, he left." He takes all this stuff up and he disappears. And the guy from the New Yorker said it’s some of the great food he’s ever eaten in his life.

G: And now you have to track him down.

RD: I gotta! I gotta track—his daughter went to George Mason, so I’m looking for this guy. But you know—

G: You gotta hire a private detective.

RD: Exactly. Well, maybe the internet. But you mean—well, I had a good pizza today. I had good Chinese food the other night...I had a great steak there. As good or better than the steak I had in Argentina. But good barbeques in Argentina. Great salads. Good gnocchi there.

G: Oh yeah.

RD: And some of the best food any place: San Sebastian, Spain. Good food there.

G: All right.

RD: And Italy too, but sometime you have to look for it in Italy. I mean, in Milan I was surprised. All of it wasn’t good. But I’m sure the best Italian food still probably is in Italy. I would think.

G: Yeah. (Laughs.)

RD: Well you eat good at home?

G: Yeah, I do all right.

RD: Yeah?

G: (Laughs.)

RD: And I like a good hamburger. To me it’s the most—one French chef said the most underrated food in the twentieth cen—one of the genius concepts is a hamburger.

G: Yeah, true enough.

RD: I like a good hamburger.

G: Me too. Well—

RD: Where’s a good one in the city?

G: I wish I could tell you. I mean, I don’t live—

RD: Oh that’s right. You’re from San Jose.

G: Yeah, I come from San Jose.

RD: Good restaurants in San Jose?

G: Eh, not really.

RD: Basque?

G: Uh—

RD: That’s further up. Basque food...

G: So it’s kind of an odd coincidence that your director on Get Low, Aaron Schnieder, he won the Oscar for an adaptation of a Faulkner story.

RD: Yes he did.

G: And back in ’72, just weeks around the time when The Godfather came out, your film Tomorrow...

RD: Yes. It was the exact time, pretty much, Godfather I.

G: And, of course, it was penned by your friend Horton Foote.

RD: Yes. Who died a year ago—

G: While you were shooting

RD: When I was filming the big scene [the climactic monologue of Get Low].

G: Yeah.

RD: My wife got—said "Horton—" It was, like, spooky. But full so she got goose pimples and everything.

G: Yeah, yeah. You know, it almost seems to me that Jackson Fentry [in Tomorrow] and Felix Bush could maybe be—you know, they have something in common.

/content/interviews/310/6.jpgRD: Yeah, but very different people. He was a little—Felix Bush could have been a lawyer, a doctor, school teacher, world traveler. Smart guy. Coulda been. But Jackson Fentry was just, you know, a little more an extension of the guy I played in To Kill A Mockingbird. But they both lived in the woods. They’re both living with secrets. (Chuckles.) Yeah.

G: Right, right. And one of the things that struck me in Get Low too, is this, initial...inexpressiveness. And then—

RD: You mean in his life?

G: Yeah, in his demeanor, I think.

RD: Yeah.

G: He’s very close to the vest, right?

RD: Right.

G: And, you know, eventually it kind of comes out. I thought that was interesting because you have such a natural vitality that’s part of your screen presence.

RD: Yeah! Well everybody expects me to play the recluse, you know? But like when I did Lonesome Dove, McMurtry, who wrote the novel, still wrong, said we should have switched parts, me and Tommy Lee. My ex-wife said, "Don’t let them talk you into that part. This is more like you really":Augustus McCrae, who was an outgoing guy, with the women, and you know, with people. So, you know, it depends—when I did American Buffalo on stage years ago, that was an outgoing guy, in a crazy way. So I guess there are different sides, you know, when I get with people—well, actually, certain kind of hermits that I know, when they do come out, they do [live it up]—not so much this guy. Then they go back in. So whatever. (Chuckles.)

G: I do want to ask a little bit about the appeal of the Southern storytelling tradition.

RD: Yeah.

G: It’s such a theme in your work. What makes it unique and what keeps bringing you back?

RD: Well, I’m sure there’re good story tellers in San Jose or Minnesota or wherever, but there seems to be a tradition in the South, and I was gonna sign off of the project when the rewrite was getting off, but they brought Charlie Mitchell in from Alabama. And he just—I mean, it was like magic what he did in spots to make the thing like and be more authentic and still keep his through line. And that’s when I got interested again.

G: One of the great things about the script, and it’s a gift for an actor, I think, is there’s so many great lines—even when you’re not on screen—that talk about your character. That’s always—

RD: Yeah, yeah! It was all—and a lot of that was a bit of a—part of the myth. Built up that he was a mean old guy. And he even said, "You kids throwing stones through my window." It’s kind of a mystery that built up that probably—there wasn’t much substance to it.

G: And also, what Sissy Spacek says, you know, that "He’s like a big old cave who just gets deeper and deeper."

RD: Yeah, yeah.

G: It’s all these lines of how everyone sees your character.

RD: Yeah. It’s how they see it, but maybe I’m not really like that.

G: Yeah, yeah.

RD: Yeah. That’s exactly right. That’s why it would have been good—they didn’t have time. If they could have heard everybody’s story about me. Or a few stories about me from the public.

G: Something you mentioned, “if they had time.” One of the things I’ve noticed in researching your career is that often times scenes get cut that you feel this strong attachment to.

RD: Oh, in Tomorrow? I wouldn’t see it for a year. I would not see that movie for a year. They cut a scene. They were wrong. When I ride off to see my son for a year, and when he’s twenty and he doesn’t recognize me, and I ride thirty miles just to confront him, and I turn around and ride away. I say what I say, I take my hat off, and he still doesn’t know me and I ride away. And they cut it. And you know, I wish I could had more control like I have a little more control now.

G: Yeah, as a producer.

RD: I would have said, "Hey! Put it in or you get no publicity or anything."

G: Well, I think it also says something about your depth as an actor that you give so much life to the roles that it’s almost like the film can’t necessarily contain it all. You know? You want all of that in there.

RD: Yeah, yeah. Well maybe. Yeah! Yeah, yeah.

G: Cause ideally the films would be longer. Right? 'Cause you’d—

RD: Yeah, I guess.

G: You’d get more of the character that—it’s bigger than life, in a way. Or—well not bigger than life. It’s bigger than the—

RD: Nothing’s bigger than life. Life is great, right? Some aspects of life are bigger than others.

G: Yeah, yeah.

RD: And some personalities in life are bigger than others. And sometimes when somebody legitimately does that, people will misinterpret that and say, well he’s over the top or overacting. If they fill it, it’s not overacting. If it’s pushed or—but sometimes people miss—because in life sometimes if you did put what life was really like, if you put as much—like right now. (Chuckles.) If you put as much time as when people laugh in any given conversation, it might be too much for a scene.

G: Right.

RD: But people laugh much more than they do—than you see in movies.

G: True.

RD: As an actual expression.

G: Yeah. Your editor, Steven Mac, calls you "the un-movie star." Which I think is a great compliment.

RD: The un-movie star—

G: Yeah. (Laughs.)

RD: Where did you read that? (Laughs.)

G: Well there’s an interview with him that I read talking about his—

RD: Oh and you saw an interview with him? Oh.

G: Yeah.

RD: You didn’t have it.

G: No, no. I didn’t get to talk to him myself.

RD: Yeah, yeah. It’s been a few years since I’ve seen Steve. Yeah, we worked together on a couple of films, yeah.

G: He said about you, “Never tell Bobby a secret because he’ll be sure to say it out loud in front of you.”

RD: That’s right. That’s what Jimmy Caan says. That’s what Jimmy Caan says! (Laughs.) Right. If it’s an emergency secret, I can keep it.

G: (Laughs.) It actually reminded me of Felix Bush, reading that, you know? That it’s this important idea in the film that, you know, he wants to bring everything out in the open. He’s got at point where he—

RD: Yeah, yeah.

G: He doesn’t want to keep secrets anymore.

RD: Yeah. He wants to tell eventually, at the right time, yeah.

G: What did your old friend Jimmy Caan say about you last night?

/content/interviews/310/7.jpgRD: Oh it was great. Jimmy’s great. We were good friends—he got up there. It was really, really nice. Who knows who’s gonna come—you know, he didn’t have a prepared speech—or I didn’t really. And it was bad—my hearing—it’s good, but it’s hard to hear the acoustics in there. But Jimmy was great. He’s probably my only friend left that I have that I keep in contact with as an actor. Paul Gleason I had, but he died of cancer. And then old Wilfred Brimley, the cowboy actor. He lives up on a ranch in Wyoming...I talk to him every year or every two years. Oh, and there’s a guy Stanley Beck who I talk to once a year, maybe, who lives here! He’s a retired actor. He used to work with Dustin Hoffman. And so he’s coming tonight. And I’ve known him for—we were at the Neighborhood Playhouse years ago. Good guy. Very bright guy. Very homespun philosopher, but Jimmy is in the business the only guy I keep in touch with. We think a lot alike and we compete in a friendly way and he’s just, underneath—we call him “All-State Everything.” He—professional rodeo guy. He can do anything! his son, too, picks up this, he drives race cars, boats, this, that, motorcycles. So, underneath, though, he’s got a good heart and a lot of vitality and a lot of laughs and a lot of—he’s just—nothing is—he’s above it all. Anything in Hollywood that you come up with, he’s above you. He’s hip, he’s cool, he’s into everything. If you say, “Oh I was at the Playboy mansion. I was out with Miss America last week.” “Oh ho! Two weeks ago I was out with Miss Universe!” (Laughs.) You know? Like that kind of thing.

G: Uh huh. (Laughs.) You mentioned the Neighborhood Playhouse.

RD: Yeah.

G: I definitely want to touch on your study with Sanford Meisner.

RD: Sanford Meisner, yeah.

G: With him it was all about the moment, right?

RD: Yeah, I think so.

G: Achieving the moment. Catching the lightning. And I know you don’t like, necessarily too much rehearsal or too many takes, really. Right? So that’s kind of going back to Meisner, right?

RD: Yeah. Well, yeah. When you do a play you rehearse a lot, then you have to repeat it every night, but some things lock in so that when you do it almost the same way every night, it becomes pretty improvisational, pretty spontaneous cause it’s so valid and so truthful. But, you know, when you do a film or whatever, I think you can over-rehearse sometimes, and it’s good to catch the—it’s like the first few rehearsals in a play. Something happens and you don’t get that back. You have to get something else. So that first reaction you can get on film. You know, like you could stand on your head and say everything. There’s always take two, three, and four, you know? So you can do different things. Exactly. But with Sandy, it was—work with him was nice. He once said he’s easier to please than Lee Strasberg.

G: (Laughs.)

RD: You know? I mean those guys, you know, they’re so, especially Strasberg, they’re so serious about it. Well Brando, he trashed Strasberg in his book. Said he was so full of himself, you know. You gotta keep it like it’s—with a little bit of joy to the whole process. And some of those teachers could knock that out by being over-analytical and critical.

G: And also I think that, you know, there’s one way to do it, you know.

RD: Yeah.

G: I think you had some trouble with Meisner’s assistants that way, right?

RD: I did?

G: Well, that they were very locked into, you know, the only way to do it is imagination and—

RD: Oh, you read that. Well, he was like that, too. I mean, "It’s the 'as if.' 'It’s as if this, he’d do—'” I think he would do anything. Do anything you want to do, you do.

G: Whatever gets you to that—

RD: Yeah. When I did American Buffalo, went on Broadway, whatever the day moved me to say all that profanity or that anger: it could be a lot of things. I mean, one time I was saying my lines eating peanuts and somebody in the audience was saying something. So I took a handful of peanuts and threw them all over them and kept going, you know. So it was like, whatever works works.

G: Yeah. Whatever feeds you in that—

RD: Whatever works works. It doesn’t have to be totally always in the imagination. That can lead to traps sometimes. Sometimes. Cause you’ve always gotta be in touch with yourself.

G: You know, it’s all about being truthful, and you’ve said before, "The real thing is hard to get sometimes. Sometimes it’s just not there." When that happens to you on a film set, what is your recourse? What do you—?

RD: When you don’t feel it’s going—?

G: Yeah. How do you find—

/content/interviews/310/3.jpgRD: Well there’s always another take. The more experience I get, I’ve come to the conclusion to always try to go back to zero. And you’re going to end up with zero. You don’t have to try to—you can get a result by not going for the result. Cause sometimes your result—actors: it’s like they’re playing emotionally. Just go with the moment and see where it goes. And by allowing yourself that discipline, you may get something more truthful around the corner without trying to impose some—so by sacrificing, and saying, "Nothing’s happening," and then by doing nothing, then something good might happen by sticking to your guns, so to speak. Without putting artifice in there. If that makes sense.

G: Yeah! I mean, well you’re remaining open for something to come in.

RD: Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

G: Sissy Spacek talked about the filming being sort of…combustible. Unexpected moments happening in front of the camera. Do any leap to mind from Get Low? Something that kind of surprised you?

RD: No—maybe—I don’t know what thing she was referring to.

G: It might have been just Bill Murray poking her.

RD: Maybe so. Maybe so. Yeah. Yeah! You just—it could be a subtle thing, those combustible moments. You just—once again, if you don’t predetermine what you’re going to do, then let things happen, between action and cut, that you don’t necessarily plan.

G: Yeah. That climactic speech is incredibly powerful. Can you talk about the emotional preparation you did for that scene?

RD: You mean on the day or building up to it?

G: Either one, or both.

RD: Well you know, when I got the part, I didn’t know if we were ready to do it, so—I was ready to do it; I thought I had other projects. So we vacationed in Argentina. I was up with Luciana's people [Ed.: Luciana Pedraza, Duvall's wife]. And there’s a wonderful hotel—old hotel with a veranda and a window that would be perfect for a writer to sit there and look at the Andes, the mountains. So I would just sit on that—there with—and also in the lobby—the veranda, and just work on that speech. Just think about it. Mull it over. Let my imagination go here and there. And that kind of made it a part of me. Just thinking about it. And the writing was so good, and then on the day I—you know, if you’re going to say certain things, it might kick something off, but you’re not sure what’s gonna kick off. So when I did it I just let it find its own little journey.

G: And the take we see in the film—it’s the first take, isn’t it?

RD: Yeah. Just one take. They had three cameras. They kept it on a close up. And I knew that if—I improvised a couple of lines. When I said that "Now it was your sister that was on fire," that gave me something. I added that at the time—it wasn’t in the speech. I put that in. And you know, by saying that, maybe something—and it did. It gave me something extra, you know.

G: You know, what I thought really helps that speech as well—I mean it’s extremely powerful in the moment, but part of it too is there’s a very clever line in the script about—or I don’t know if it might have been improvised—but you’re talking to Bill Cobbs, and you say, you know, “If I can’t get through it...I want you to finish it for me.”

RD: Yeah. He starts it, then I say it, then he finishes it, but then I interrupt him. “I have to do it. I better get up there.” You know, it’s like people do. “I can’t.” “Oh let me do it.”

G: But it really, it sets this tension for this scene as well of, you know, I can’t really get through it. And that you’re making a choice with every sentence that you say to keep going.

RD: Yeah.

G: Which I thought was—

RD: You know, there was a line that they cut out, and I don’t know why they cut it out. I put it in, maybe I should have told them, but sometimes you don’t tell them. (Pause.) I read it in The Hatfields and the McCoys, about the Hatfields. And they cut it. I said, "Mother wit told me to go to that house.” So they said people don’t know what—I said mother wit’s self-explanatory.

G: Shakespeare talked about mother wit.

RD: He does?

G: Yeah. (Laughs.)

RD: So does Cervantes!

G: Yeah, right!

RD: I read about it and I said, “Charlie”—and Charlie didn’t know it. But they said that so and so—the Hatfields and the McCoys had mother wit!

G: Yeah.

RD: And they said, well, nobody will know what it means, and it’s self-explanatory. And like Jimmy Caan said, even if they don’t know what it means, so what?

G: Yeah, right. (Laughs.)

RD: I still don’t know why they cut that line. Suddenly I’m at the door, but I said, “My mother wit told me to go there. And it is from the—well Charlie’s from Alabama, but up there in West Virginia they use that. Does Shakespeare use that?

G: Yeah. Taming of the Shrew.

RD: Wow. Mother wit.

G: Yeah. Katherine asks Petruchio, “Where’d you get all this goodly speech?”

RD: It’s not mother’s—possessive—wit?

G: No, no.

RD: It’s mother wit.

G: It says, “It came from my mother wit.” She says, "Witless else her son."

RD: It’s like a mother’s sensibility—of a mother, that a male might have.

G: Yeah.

/content/interviews/310/2.jpgRD: Wonderful. I couldn’t believe they cut it. I should have insisted. I—that’s what I mean about, with the Faulkner thing I wouldn’t see for a year. They just—I mean “mother wit” is—I mean, when I read it I said, "Charlie," I said, "it’s in Cervantes. Don Quixote, he talked about “mother wit.” It’s self-explanatory!

G: Yeah. I agree.

RD: They cut it.

G: (Laughs.)

RD: (Laughs.) It bothers me. It still does.

G: Yeah, yeah. Well, I do want to ask you—

RD: Well, you’re the only person I know who’s heard of it.

G: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. Yeah, and like you say, it is self-explanatory. (Laughs.) And also, you know, your wit is the mother of your thoughts, in a way.

RD: Yeah. And also the mother in men!

G: Right, right.

RD: Yeah. You’re a big Shakespeare—?

G: Oh sure, yeah.

RD: Yeah? That’s great. What, do you teach at the university, or—?

G: No. I do teach, though. Yeah.

RD: Boy. Great.

G: I teach some acting, yeah.

RD: Terrific.

G: And so I’m always fascinated to talk with actors about their craft. I do want to just ask you briefly about the Don Quixote project [Ed.: The Man Who Shot Don Quixote, to be directed by Terry Gilliam]. I certainly hope that that comes to fruition.

RD: Oh yeah. Once again that’s money, too. It’s the money. And it’s a little bit more. It’s—he had seen me play a part, where I played the Cuban barber—

G: Yeah, Wrestling Ernest Hemingway.

RD: Yeah. And he liked it a lot. And I was in Cuba recently, and they said, “You did it. You made—it worked.”

G: Yeah, with Jimmy Caan, right?

RD: Yeah. It made me feel good. And that they said it went well, and I studied it hard. And if he hadn’t of seen that, he wouldn’t have offered me the part—Terry Gilliam.

G: What would that role offer you? It would be sort of a—the spirit of Don Quixote in another character.

RD: Well not the one that was eight years worth and failed.

G: Right.

RD: There was a French actor, learned English, he was—this isn’t really Don Quixote. It’s like a shoemaker from a small village with a different name that they somehow make—they’ve done it before. They’ve started it before. Kind of referring back to the other project. And they make this guy Don Quixote in a commercial. So he really feels like he’s Quixote. And he’s living in a cage for years. Pretending he’s Quixote. And then when they finally get it—they finally do more of it, it doesn’t work, and he goes back to becoming a shoemaker. So it’s really nice.

G: Yeah, yeah. That would be great. And I hope Hatfields and McCoys happens.

RD: Ohhhh!

G: I wanted to ask you, too, about “Pony Express”—

RD: I’m not supposed to talk about that [Ed.: Hatfields]. That got after me, Warner Brothers, for mentioningThe Hatfields and the McCoys. And this French director I told you—did I tell you about him?

G: No.

RD: One of the top, young, French directors—the two or three top. Read this script with—it was written years ago by Bill Wittliff, who did the adaptation of Lonesome Dove, and it’s an interesting study of an old guy. Cowboy type. And this French guy read it and flipped! He did a movie called In the Beginning. Very interesting French film. Now he’s possessed with doing this film in Texas. Now we’re—he was down. Lot of Europeans don’t like it—he loves America. He was—my friend who drives around in a Bentley, this crazy old guy. He raises the chassis when he’s in the country and lowers it when he’s in the city. “Get in here Frenchy!” he said. And as the guy gets in, he throws a .38 pistol. And the guy sits on the pistol, “Oh my! What is that?” He said, (in a French accent:) “Danny is a gangster!” So he was going to take him down across the border to the whorehouse, cause there’s [a scene] about a one night in Mexico in the whorehouse with the grandson—and then my Texas Ranger friends and the sheriff said, “Don’t go. That’s too dangerous, Danny. Do not go.” But he’s dying to come, and if we get the money—he’s trying to raise it in Europe, too, to do this very interesting script. You know, better a talented guy from Paris, than a hack from Dallas.

G: Sure.

RD: That’s my philosophy with anything.

G: Yeah. Now, is the Pony Express something that might ever happen? Or is that—?

/content/interviews/310/5.jpgRD: The guy who wrote Band of Brothers, they paid him good money to write at AMC. And now they don’t want—it’s a good patriotic thing. The country needs something like that now. And they won’t do it. We put them on the map. I don’t know if you saw the thing we did.

G: Yeah! Broken Trail.

RD: With the five Chinese girls. Made it—thirty million people saw it. If you’d done a movie, seven people would have seen it. So we made them money and everything. Well, they’d had enough of it, I guess. I mean, the one woman that had any brains over there at AMC, they fired. And she was the one that insisted that they do Broken Trail—insisted on our edit. She saved it for us, and they fired her. So I don’t know who’s over there now with any brains.

G: (Laughs.)

RD: So I don’t know. I don’t know about the—I don’t know if it will ever get done.

G: Yeah. You know, one of the directors that was really important in your career was Ulu Grosbard.

RD: Yeah. I was with him the other day in New York.

G: Yeah. He said about you that “You're a guy that seems to be tough, but ends up being really very vulnerable.”

RD: What again, now?

G: He said that, “You’re a guy who seems to be tough, but you end up being really vulnerable.” And a lot of the roles that you played, he said—

RD: Who said that?

G: Ulu Grosbard.

RD: He said that?

G: Yeah.

RD: Yeah! Well, Horton Foote said that, too: "How could you play a guy, like in Lonesome Dove, who was so sensitive, that he was—could be emotional. He had killed people." All the Texas Rangers, way back one time, saw their leader killed on the border, and they all instantly broke out and wept 'cause their guy was shot down in front of them. People are like that!

G: Yeah.

RD: I mean, you know, people are like that. The definitive story, that I’d like to see this in a movie someday, a friend of mine told me that a mob guy had killed a guy on the street and the cops came and caught him, and he wept and said, (imitating crying:) “Oh my friend died, they went—the killer went that way.” But he actually broke down and put on tears! (Laughs.) But you know, guys can have feelings. Why not?

G: Absolutely. Well, that’s a good place to wrap it up, I guess. Thanks a lot. It’s been fabulous talking to—

RD: No. Good to see—no, good to see you, man. Good luck to you.

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