The indestructible Robert Duvall went to the end of the world this year with “The Road” and also contributed a memorable supporting role in “Crazy Heart” (a film he also produced). What’s on deck for the six-time Oscar nominee? The actor filled us in “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote,” the on-again off-again Terry Gilliam film that now will feature Duvall in the title role.
“I’m supposed to work with Terry Gilliam," he said. "He wants me to play Don Quixote in his next movie. The movie was derailed, what, about eight years ago, but now it’s a different film. I don’t know why he approached me. He said he saw me play a Cuban barber in [the 1993 movie “Wrestling Ernest Hemingway”] with Richard Harris and he remembered it and thought I would be good in the lead part of this movie. It’s a different tack; it’s about a small guy from a little village, he’s a shoemaker, and they take him to Spain to play Don Quixote while they’re shooting a television commercial. It’s interesting. To get money in these times to do anything is extremely difficult.”
Few film projects have suffered financial woes as infamously as Gilliam's satire of the Cervantes classic. The production got underway in 2000, but after a series of mishaps and setbacks, it imploded. The 2002 documentary "Lost in La Mancha" painfully recorded that implosion (and, as it happens, featured a narration by "Crazy Heart" star Jeff Bridges). Gilliam returned to the venture early this year by rewriting the script.
Duvall said that none of the troubled history matters now and that he is enthused to work with a filmmaker who could create movies as singular as "Brazil," "Twelve Monkeys" and "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus."
"He’s unique in his talent. Jeff has worked with him and very successfully. They did ‘The Fisher King,’ and it was the best of Gilliam’s movies, I thought. So I’m excited. It’s going to happen, but they haven’t got the other guy yet, the Sancho Panza, who they want to be an Anglo. Colin Farrell turned them down. I don’t know why. He took ‘Crazy Heart’ and turned this one down? I don’t get that."
-- Geoff Boucher
Photo: Robert Duvall at the 59th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in 2007. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times