Oscar winner at home in the foothills

Brad Halasz
Wednesday August 31, 2005

High River Times -- While Brad Pitt was being stalked and sought out by international media during filming of a movie in the Calgary area, Robert Duvall was relaxed and mingling with the crowd when he took in the ranch rodeo at the Bar U Ranch Aug. 21.

The legendary actor, known for his role in the critically acclaimed Lonesome Dove series and for his oscar winning performance in Tender Mercies, has brought a crew to the Foothills region to film a western mini-series.

"It's cheap and it's ranch country," Duvall said of reasons for shooting in Southern Alberta.

The two-part mini-series Daughters of Joy, is set to air on the AMC network next year. The project was a perfect opportunity for Duvall to take a trip up north for the first time since working on Open Range, also shot in the area.

"I like the sight of the mountains," he said.

Calling Daughters of Joy his "third in a trilogy of westerns," Duvall has learned that when it comes to the genre, it's all in the details. "You always see guys wearing double holsters on their horses in the movies, but that's not what they did because it was too much weight," he said.

"So now I wait until there's a jeopardy situation to put it on."

Duvall has enlisted area ranchers, The Bews family, to work as wranglers on the movie, and has learned a thing or two from them as well.

"When you play a cowboy you don't slouch, you sit elegantly, but in a relaxed way," he said.

With nine weeks of shooting left Duvall has found that keeping those details true to the authenticity of Western culture, a difficult task.

"They're trying to change the movie's name," Duvall said of the executives backing the project.

"At one point they wanted me at the end wounded, and in a wheelchair and crutch like Anthony Hopkins in Legends of the Fall. I said I'm not doing that movie."

As executive producer and star of Daughters of Joy, Duvall has sought out several Canadian actors for roles in the film - something he might have hesitated to do in the past.

"I made a statement before that there were no good actors up here. I eat my words," he said.

As the ranch rodeo drew to its close, Duvall signed some autographs and casually chated with a cowboy, who invited him to a ranch-roping event.

While a certain Hollywood celebrity may be getting all the attention in the big city, Duvall said the real buzz will be in the quality of work. "Everybody tells me our script is better, by far, than Brad Pitt's."

---- www.highrivertimes.com