Screen Legend Duvall Opening MSP Film Festival

Actor-Filmmaker In Twin Cities Friday To Introduce 'Tango'

Tim Lammers, Staff Writer
Posted: 1:15 p.m. CST April 3, 2003

Legendary Oscar-winning actor Robert Duvall is back in the multi-task film mode six years after "The Apostle," and he's showing off his latest labor of love -- "Assassination Tango" -- at the opening festivities of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival Friday in the Twin Cities.

Robert Duvall on the set of 'Assassination Tango'Duvall, who earned numerous accolades and a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his independent film hit in 1997, has taken on the same duties for "Assassination Tango," as writer, producer, director and star of the dramatic thriller.

But while "The Apostle" was a huge success, Duvall, 72, said it wasn't necessarily easier for him to get "Assassination Tango" made. Sure, he didn't finance the film with his own money like he did with "The Apostle" (Duvall's CPA "greenlighted" the project and the film legend laid out $5 million), but instead found other stumbling blocks.

"United Artists and MGM Studios financed it and Francis Ford Copolla was the executive producer, so that helped -- but then we had more people to answer to, " Duvall told me in a recent interview. " We went through more of an editorial process, but it turned out good."

* Archive Video: Duvall Talks With Lammers About Independent Filmmaking

In "Assassination Tango" Duvall plays John J., an American hitman who gets sent to Buenos Aires to snuff out an Argentine general. But when the general's return to the country is delayed, the triggerman suddenly becomes obsessed with sensual world of tango dancing and more specifically, his instructor (Duvall's real-life girlfriend Luciana Pedraza).

But while down in Argentina filming incorporating his off-screen passion ("It's a nice hobby of mine," Duvall chirped) into the fantastical realm of his day job, the actor-filmmaker immediately was brought back to the real world -- and in a way far too close to home.

"The second day down there a guy and his wife got assassinated in a posh residential section north of Buenos Aires, and the guy who did it put across the two bodies a sign that said 'The Gringo was here,'" Duvall explained. "It was just like our story. It was all over TV and newspapers for days, and strangely enough, it was our production manager's parents. It was so spooky."

The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival officially gets under way at 7:30 p.m. Friday with Duvall's appearance at the Historic State Theater to introduce "Assassination Tango." The festival, which will screen 130 films from 50 countries at several venues throughout the Twin Cities, ends April 19.

More Info: MSP International Film Festival Web Site

Copyright 2003 by Channel 4000. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.