Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Godfather of Westerns, Robert Duvall talks about the iconic Lonesome Dove


With seven Emmys won, Lonesome Dove is unquestionably television’s most respected Western achievement. The roles were so good, the nominations of Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones as Best Actor, and Diane Lane and Anjelica Huston as Best Actress, may have split the vote and cancelled each other out.

The miniseries had such a profound effect on the filmmakers and actors that many careers are now seen as pre-Lonesome Dove and post-Lonesome Dove...
True West: Do you still feel that Gus McCrea in Lonesome Dove was the best role you ever had?

Robert Duvall: Probably. There are other parts I liked. I played a Cuban barber [in 1993’s Wrestling Ernest Hemingway], with Richard Harris, which was one of my favorite parts. Man, I worked on that accent. Another one of my performances I liked was when I played Stalin [1992’s Stalin]. I try to do different things. But I would say Lonesome Dove was like my Hamlet or my Henry V, so to speak. When it was over, I felt like I could retire; I felt I’d done something fully and completely. He was a very complex guy. He said, we killed off all the people that were interesting. That was years ago, but it was a fine character to be able to play.

I’m told you designed the Gus McCrae hat.

They insisted, some of the powers that be, that I wear a Mexican sombrero to play Gus. I said, ‘I will not play the part if that’s the case.’ I had to go to the producers. I showed them pictures of Texas Rangers on the border, and they all wore the kind of hats I wore in the movie. I said, ‘Let me pick my own hat,’ which, finally, they allowed.

 Did you have any doubts about a non-American director for your Western?

We had 16 weeks to work, and it was nice; it was concentrated. First 10 days around Austin. Then down around Del Rio, Texas, near the border. Then up to New Mexico. Then up to Angel Fire Mountains farther up in New Mexico, to suffice for Montana’s Rockies, because we couldn’t afford to go there. I was fortunate to be in, what I think I’m correct in saying, the two biggest film epics of the 20th century: The Godfather I and II, and Lonesome Dove.

What does the American West mean to you?

It’s an elusive thing. Like when you go to England or wherever, they want to know about the West. That thing of pushing forward; pushing outward. The frontier.

What’s your next project?

I’m trying to get two Elmer Kelton things that have fallen through. Can’t get ’em done—Netflix or anybody.

Wonder what those two Elmer Kelton projects would be?

The Good Old Boys has already been made into a movie starring Tommy Lee Jones.

The Day The Cowboys Quit?  Maybe.

But just think of Duvall playing Charlie Flagg in The Time It Never Rained, or better yet, Wes Hendrix, the grandfather in The Man Who Rode Midnight.  Lord I would love to see those done. 

What would you nominate for the two Kelton projects?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

The time it never rained and The man who rode midnight. Sam Elliot in The day the Cowboys quit.
Chris Allison