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NPR FOR THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When You Can’t


[Portrait of Robert Duvall by SUPERSAL001]

listen.gifFRESH AIR

In the new film Get Low, Robert Duvall plays Felix Bush, a secretive recluse who eschews almost all human contact and lives alone in the woods, fueling rumors among townspeople that he’s hiding some terrible deed in his past. One day, Bush comes out of the woods and announces to his town that he wants to stage a public, living funeral — complete with mule, hearse and coffin — before he actually dies. And as it turns out, Bush does in fact harbor a deep secret — one that sent him into his self-imposed exile — which he decides to reveal before his living funeral ends. Duvall tells Fresh Air‘s Dave Davies that he infused Bush with a voice and style he modeled after several of his own relatives who grew up in the Deep South. “I didn’t really go for an accent,” the 79-year-old actor says. “I just went for a flavor from my father’s people — the farming people from Virginia.” Duvall says that filming on location in Georgia also added a needed dimension to the film. “The extras we got — they would come at 4 a.m. and stay until 8 p.m. — there were maybe 1,200 to 1,600 of them,” he explains. “We got these extras where it was the first time they were in a movie. In Hollywood, they have the trade magazines and they come in, and … there’s a certain kind of jaded quality. [Whereas] these people were very fresh. They added a wonderful voice themselves to the movie.” Duvall’s other films include To Kill a Mockingbird, M*A*S*H, Apocalypse Now and The Godfather. He received an Academy Award for his role as Mac Sledge in the 1983 drama Tender Mercies and he delivered a riveting performance as the philosopher/cowboy Gus McCrae in the TV adaptation of Larry McMurtry’s novel Lonesome Dove. He has also received two Emmy Awards and four Golden Globes, and was awarded a National Medal of Arts at the White House in 2005.

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