Duvall bares Argentine soul in "Assassination Tango"

Wed Sep 11, 2002, 11:49 PM ET

TORONTO (Reuters) - Despite the proficiency displayed in his new film "Assassination Tango" -- and his passion for the art -- actor Robert Duvall said Wednesday he does not consider himself a capable tango dancer.

Duvall's film makes its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival Wednesday night. The festival runs until Saturday.

"You go to Argentina and it's a vicious world, nobody likes anybody's dancing down there," he joked. "They're worse than actors, they criticize this, this and this.

"I could do never do that (tango) professionally, maybe as a young man."

The 71-year-old actor plays the role of a hitman sent on a job to Buenos Aires -- one he swears will be his last one as a assassin.

When his target, a political figure, delays his return to Argentina, Duvall passes the time with a beautiful dancer who introduces him into the sensual world of the tango.

Duvall called Buenos Aires his second home, saying he has a "feel" for the city, and his experiences come through in the attention to detail he insisted on for the film, such as ensuring the actors spoke Argentine Spanish.

"It's a pretty unique, specific culture and it has its own identity," he said.

Seduced by the tango and his instructor -- played by Duvall's real life partner, Argentine Luciana Pedraza -- Duvall leads a double life and is forced to overcome a string of complications as his mission begins to heat up.

The film also stars Panamian Grammy Award winner and actor Ruben Blades, Frank Gio and Kathy Baker.

The Academy Award winner directed the film, his fourth time helming a project, and also wrote and produced the film. Wearing so many hats proved to be quite easy, Duvall said, noting the only negative was he had no director to yell at.