One of the coolest things about doing a cover story on a great actor is talking to his peers about him, as an actor and as a person. The list of great actors that Robert Duvall has worked with runs very, very long, and we were fortunate enough to speak with some of them, including Glenn Close, Kyra Sedgwick, Robert Downey Jr., Billy Bob Thornton, Jeff Bridges, Walton Goggins, Diane Keaton and Beth Grant. Read on to discover ten themes that popped up again and again in our conversations.
1. His work is natural and grounded.
Glenn Close: To work with Duvall you seem like you’re not acting, you know. In fact there better not be too much acting going on around him because he’s so grounded and so real. I think he’s a touchstone for that kind of really real interesting base human behavior. So in The Stone Boy, where we played husband and wife, it really was just kind of—you know—existing. And it was just natural. True to the event … true to what we were reacting to. It was just heavenly working with him.
Kyra Sedgwick: He always is so vivid, and so real, and so spontaneous, and that’s the thing that I love so much about him. I think really great acting happens in the moment. Sure you can plan, but then you have to be really open to the moment. Everything he does is completely spontaneous and not self-conscious.
Robert Downey Jr.: I remember seeing The Great Santini and being afraid that he was real. So I guess, there’s a naturalism and intensity that works particularly well on film.