Few actors command as much respect as ROBERT DUVALL. So if you say he's good in The Apostle, you’d only be preaching to the converted. Words Anwar Brett
()yer the years. Robert Duvall has played good men and bad. but whatever he turns his hand to. he is always totally convincing. lirom Boo Radley in To Kill A .‘ilru'ki/tg/ﬁrd and the bad guy pursued by John Wayne in True Grit. through a pair of classic Godfather movies and a memorable cameo in xl/HM‘u/y‘lmv Now. to his Oscar-winning role in 'Ii'm/cr .llr'rcit's. Duvall has had a rich and yaried career.
Now ()7 years old. he shows no signs of slowing down and recently picked up his fifth Oscar nomination for his performance in The ri/ms‘l/r’. which he not only acts in but has written. directed and produced — as well as initially financing the moyie with $5 million of his own money.
Duvall plays liuliss ‘Sonny‘ Dewey. a Pentecostal preacher whose piety has not robbed him of an eye for the ladies. When Sonny‘s wife finds love in the arms of a younger minister and threatens to take control of his church. Sonny strikes her loyer in a drunken rage. (ioing on the run. he changes his identity to ‘li.l-'.’. baptises himself as "l'he Apostch and begins preaching to a brand new flock who are unaware of the dark secret from his past.
‘I belieye that I'll“. is being totally sincere.‘ l)uya|l explains. ‘l’eople like these Pentecostal congregations — and there are 20 million in my country — operate on faith. And if you‘re talking about sin. King Dayid in the Bible was a far greater sinner than my guy. In a very sinister. shrewd way. he sent a man off to die so that he . could sleep with Bathsheba. £2.33":
.\ly' guy would never do that: he killed a man iny'oluntarily. but it was out of passion.'
Speaking almost as forcefully as a preacher himself. Duyall‘s enthusiasm is understandable. 'l'his film has pre-occupied him for years. a project on the back burner of a busy career. and one that encapsulates an intriguing aspect of life for so many Americans.
"l‘he black Baptist preacher has been like a pillar
in his community since the days of slavery and betore.‘ he continues. ‘If you can get past the obvious lV' shenanigans. there are some wonderful people in
24 THEUST ll. 2‘.) Jun 1998
Holy water: Robert Duvall in The Apostle
the rank and file < whether you beliey e in what they say or not. It’s part of my country ’s history. They say it's one of the true ,-\merican art forms the American preacher.
‘I did a lot of research into the subject. i would go to 'l‘e\as at least once a month for ten months. and inundate myself with church seryices. teleyision. radio. preachers. I‘d go here and there. driye for miles. I remember one Sunday morning going to six different churches in Harlem. church-hopping so to speak.‘
To hear him talk. it is
. p » obyious that l)uyall still enjoys w hat he does. and acting is just as strong a passion for him now as it ey er was.
‘l'y'e been an actor for hire l‘til' )L‘ill'b.‘ he adds. did he [‘L‘l‘iik‘k'li} happy [0 kt‘t‘p (in doing that. but what I really want to do from here on is more of my own projects. Directing is hard work. I had dreaded the workload and cyet'ytliing. but it was an interesting experience and more eshilarating than tiring. When it goes right. it’s great.‘
Scotland is hoping it goes right on a proposed film he wants to direct about a giant-killing football team from (ilasgow. Now there's a subject inyolying more faith and religion than eyen The .-\/)().\l/('.
Selected release from Fri 12 Jun. See review.
The column that sneaks onto the set.
'THE WHOLE POINT is, do we need to start a film with the beginning, move to the middle, then end it with a point being made?’ That's the question young writer-director Robert McCann is asking himself as his fifteen-minute short Station goes into post-production.
The film uses as its inspiration ltalo Calvino's novel If On A Winter’s Night, A Travel/er. McCann has given short monologues to various characters that appear in different parts of the book, placing them all together into a station bar. Each individual story is interrupted before it reaches its conclusion - just as Calvino ends each chapter before an obvious climax — while the camera eavesdrops on unfinished conversations at tables and a couple of men playing dominos seem to control the people around them. The aim, according to the director, is to encourage the audience to use their imaginations and make their own links between the speeches.
Station is produced by Sebastian Cardinal and Ranyah Seraj, and marks the first collaboration by Edinburgh College of Art and Napier University on a Fuji Film Award project (the camera crew is from ECA, the production and design team is from Napier). All UK film colleges enter one script for the competition, and Station is the only Scottish film to be selected for the final sixteen. It’s being shot on 16mm, and all film stock, development and print costs will be covered by Fuji. Not only that: the script has attracted a fine cast, including experienced hands Russell Hunter and Anne Louise Ross.
Shot in Edinburgh at the end of May, Station will discover in September if it is to take one of the top Fuji prizes when it screens at BAFTA in London. .2; a gig/er
Waiting room: Russell Hunter appears in Station