Robert Duvall was born in San Diego, California in 1931. At age ten, he moved with his family to the East Coast and lived primarily in Annapolis, Maryland,spending several summers on an uncle's ranch in Montana.
At Principia College in Elsah,Illinois, Duvall majored in history and government, eventually switching to the drama department, where he earned his degree. Following a two-year tour of duty with the United States Army, he moved to New York in 1955 and enrolled in the renowned Neighborhood Playhouse on the G I. Bill. Sanford Meisner, thea cclaimed acting teacher, recognized Duvall's potential and cast him in Tennessee Williams' "Camino Real" and Horton Foote's "The Midnight Caller."
The fledgling actor supported himself with a number of odd jobs and shared an apartment with two then-unknown actors, Dustin Hoffman and Gene Hackman. Five years after his first meeting with Horton Foote, the playwright/screenwriter recommended Duvall for his 1963 screen debut in To Kill A Mockingbird. In the now-classic motion picture, Duvall played the pivotal role of the mysterious, misunderstood Boo Radley.
In 1965, Duvall won an Obie for his performance as the hero in a revival of Arthur Miller's"A View From the Bridge." After a standout role on the live television series "Naked City" and guest spots on a number of top dramatic TV shows, Duvall starred in the Broadwayhit "Wait Until Dark."
Other film credits during the1960's include, Captain Newman, M.D., The Chase,Countdown (directed by Robert Altman), The Detective, The Rain People (directed by Francis Ford Coppola), and True Grit. He began the 1970's aspious Major Frank Burns in Altman's smash comedy, M*A *S*H,followed by George Lucas' directorial debut, THX 1138and Lawman.
In 1972, Duvall was honored with an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor for hisrole as Tom Hagen in Coppola's The Godfather. Other films during the early seventies include Horton Foote's Tomorrow,The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid, Joe Kidd, Badge373, Coppola's The Conversation and The Outfit.
In 1974, Duvall starred in The Godfather, Part II, followed by Breakout and The Killer Elite directed by Sam Peckinpah. In the 1976 boxoffice success Network by Sidney Lumet, he portrayed aruthless television network executive, and in Herbert Ross's The Seven-Per-Cent Solution he played Conan Doyle's Dr. Watson.
Duvall made his directorial debut with the 1977 documentary We're Not the Jet Set,about a Nebraska rodeo family. The film, which he also co-produced, was honored at the London Film Festival. He then returned to the New York stage in David Mamet's "American Buffalo," while other screen credits from the period include the films The Eagle Has Landed, The Greatest andThe Betsy, along with the difficult title role in the acclaimed television miniseries "Ike."
In 1979, Duvall earned his second Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor for Apocalypse Now. The following year brought another Academy Award nomination, this time for Best Actor, as the macho Marine pilot Bull Meechum in The Great Santini. He also starred in True Confessions and The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper.
Once again working on a Horton Foote project, Tender Mercies, Duvall starred as Mac Sledge, a born-again country music star who puts his life back together. Duvall created and performed his own songs for the 1983 film, which earned him an Academy Award for Best Actor.
In 1983, he directed his secondfilm, Angelo, My Love, a portrait of New York's mysterious Gypsy community, which he also wrote and produced. Acting roles from this period include The Stone Boy, The Natural, The Lightship, Belizaire the Cajunand Colors. Duvall received an Emmy nomination for the role of Gus in the popular miniseries "Lonesome Dove,"which he describes as "one of the best parts of [his]career."
The early 90's saw Duvall on screen in Days of Thunder, The Handmaid 's Tale,A Show of Force and in Horton Foote's Convicts. Other credits include The Paper, Newsies, Rambling Rose, Falling Down, Geronimo and Wrestling Ernest Hemingway. For his starring role as the ruthless Soviet dictator in the HBO Original film Stalin, he received the Golden Globe.
Most recently, Duvall starred in The Stars Fell on Henrietta, The Scarlet Letter,Phenomenon, and in the forthcoming Dream Works SKG disaster film, Deep Impact.
In 1992, Duvall formed Butchers Run Films so he could become more actively involved in all elements of film development and production. The company's first co-production, A Family Thing, which was written by Billy Bob Thornton and teamed Duvall with James Earl Jones, earned a Humanitas Award. Continuing his commitment to quality stories, Duvall executive produced Butchers Run Films' second co-production, the critically acclaimed TNT Original The Man Who Captured Eichmann, in which Duvall portrays the remorseless Nazi bureaucrat Adolph Eichmann.
Journal of Religion and Film, 1998