Thursday, April 2, 1998

Duvall praises Toronto

The Apostle director takes part in baseball kickoff

By PAUL SAMBLA -- Toronto Sun

From preacher to pitcher, a grateful Robert Duvall returned to Toronto yesterday to throw out the first pitch at the Blue Jays home opener.

It was here last September that Duvall launched his film The Apostle at the Toronto Film Festival.

His role as a born-again evangelist in that movie earned him a best actor nomination at last month's Academy Awards ceremony.

Beforehand, he dropped by Planet Hollywood to thank the city, and donate to the restaurant memorabilia from the film.

"Six months ago, the Toronto Film Festival was a very welcoming time for us and our film. We really appreciate it," he told the 100 fans who waited to get his autograph.

Though he was only asked a week ago to throw the first pitch, the 67-year-old was confident he could do a better job than others.

"I can throw it further than George Bush," Duvall boasted. "I think he threw it about three feet and it dribbled.

"I'll get it there all the way. I don't know in what style, but I'll get it there."

Duvall's co-star in The Apostle, Billy Bob Thornton, who's in town shooting a movie, had planned to join his pal at Planet Hollywood, but was called away to film at the last minute.

Duvall was in a good mood, praising Toronto's food, and wishing he could stay longer to go riding with his equestrian buddy Ian Miller, who rode Big Ben to two world championships.

Duvall even joked about Joan Rivers, on her pre-Oscar broadcast, asking the five-time nominee and Oscar winner for Tender Mercies if he'd been nominated before.

"She's out in space somewhere," he said.