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Hey kids, what a big day for LMD as she had the great honour to be allowed in the same room with Tom Hagen/The Great Santini/Boo Radley themselves, the actorís actor, Mr. Robert Duvall.  And because that head explosion failed to impress, Carrie and Loretta Lynn made an appearance in the form of Ms. Sissy Spacek.  Her prom date was that Saturday Night Ghostbuster Wes Anderson really likes, also known as Mr. Bill Murray.  They sat in during the Tribeca Film Festival to chat up their new film, Get Low.

 I love the smell of Oscar winners (& nominees) in the morning.

 Dig it!

 

Get Low

Robert Duvall

 

The Lady Miz Diva:  Youíre so revered for being able to inhabit or melt into your characters.  How deeply entrenched do you get when you play someone like Felix and how easy is he to walk away from at the end of the day?

Robert Duvall:  Well, thatís a good question.  Itís playacting, like kids playacting.  Like you play the doctor and I play the king.  Itís playacting, itís fun.  But itís you turning away.  You donít really become something else -- you do, but you only have one set of emotions, one psyche, so you use that, like turning it to make it work for you.  And if it goes well, at the end of the day, you say, ďLetís go out.Ē  If it doesnít go well, you say, ďOh my God, Iím worn out.Ē  If it goes well, thereís an elation process; being elated that you say, ďOkay, I feel good,Ē you know?  But I did a scene one time with a first time producer and it was a very emotional scene, but it went well.  When it was over and he wasnít watching me, I came over and I said, ďYou know the best way to cook soft-shell crabs?  Iím from Maryland and the best way to cook crabs is this wayÖ.Ē  He couldnít get over that you could come out of something that quick, but if itís real, then you can come out of it, cos by doing something real, and youíre immersed in something, you still have to be relaxed and off-hand and at touch with yourself.  You know what Iím saying?  So itís not like ďOooohhh, now Iím in character.Ē  Itís like someone said, you watch some of these actors that come onstage with a big bag of yesterday.  Itís a game and the more youíre in touch with yourself the better.  And know yourself, to be able to call on things without calling on them.  Let it happen.

 

LMD:  Felix is trying to tie up the loose ends of his life before he passes and did playing him make you think about things youíd like to get sorted in your own life?

RD:  Not so much.  This is all a job and you think about whateverís gonna be at the end or maybe the end is another beginning, who knows?  I think the end may be another beginning or something, but you think about it, you know?  I think about it, yeah.

 

LMD:  You mentioned being relaxed in a character, were you relaxed in Felix?

RD:  Yeah, with this, yeah.  You know, we go to Argentina a lot, my wifeís from Argentina; when I finally said Iíd do this, I was sitting in this hotel way up looking at the Andes mountains going over this part just quietly to myself and letting it kind of whatever inside me, and I went from there, you know?  Somebody once said, ďPlay parts that are closest to you in your daydreams,Ē and not that I daydreamed about this but the more I worked on it, he became part of my daydreams, this guy.  But as far as whatís to come with me, I donít know, weíll see.  I donít know.  Make it a small gathering, whenever it is.  Ours is an interesting journey from the cradle to the grave.  You try to do that without hurting people and trying to do things as good as you can to help other people if you can, to do that.  So it is a journey from the cradle to the grave, but that was what his was, what mine will be, I donít know, ultimately what it will be, itís whatever, I donít know. 

 

LMD:  If Iím a young filmmaker and I want Robert Duvall in my movie, what does it take to bring you on board?

RD:  The part, if itís a good part.  If itís a very unique part like this one, itís the only way I would consider any film.  Yeah, I like to work with first time directors, why not?

 

LMD:  Well you recently did that with Scott Cooperís Crazy Heart {2009}.

RD:  Yeah, well he hadnít even directed a high school play. Now he can go direct a high school play! {Laughs} I talked to him this morning and heís been offered to direct a phenomenal script called The Hatfields and McCoys.  Itís like American Shakespeare.  He flew all the way to Venice to talk to Brad Pitt.  If you know Brad Pitt, tell him to let the thing go and letís do it!  Cos he has so many options, the guy, Brad Pitt.  But Warner Brothers would do it, they would write the check to do it and Scott Cooper would direct it.  Thatís one thatís easy money if Brad Pitt would say yes, and itís a great, great script by Eric Roth.  I think a great script.

 

LMD:  What is the appeal of Southern stories or stories of the West for you?

RD:  Well, theyíre part of our heritage.  I say, let the English play Hamlet and King Lear, I play Augustus McCrae {Lonesome Dove -1989}.  The English have Shakespeare, The French have MoliŤre, the Russians have Chekov, but the Western is ours.  Itís our genre.  But I donít know if they really tell the story, because they say that the most difficult thing for the cowboy guy, that character in those days was to get a good nightís sleep on the hard ground.  That was the hardest thing.  And you know, after the Civil War three out of five cowboys were black cowboys, and the Southern guys from the Confederate army, a lot of those guys went out West and became cowboys cos there wasnít anything left of their lands.  But it was part of our heritage.  And people in Europe and all over -- probably Japan too -- they love the concept of the Western, of the frontier, they do, with its pros and cons, yeah.

 

Bill Murray and Sissy Spacek

 

The Lady Miz Diva:  Get Lowís producer, Dean Zanuck, told me he asked your lawyer, ďHow do you get into the Bill Murray business?Ē  Apparently, your lawyer said, ďYou donít.Ē

Bill Murray: {Laughs} Itís bad business.

 

LMD:  What does it take then for a young filmmaker to bring you on to a project?

Bill Murray:  Well, what is really the key would be to have a good script.  Sure -- itís not that hard.  If you have a good script, thatís what gets you involved, you know? People say, ďOh, they canít find you.Ē  WellÖ if you can write a good script, itís a lot harder than finding someone, you know?  Itís much harder to write a good screenplay than finding someone.  So, you can find someone.  You know, I donít worry about it.  Itís not my problem.  My problem is having a little peace and quiet, so if they need to find me, thatís really their issue.  Iím not putting out ads or anything, or standing on the street corner.

 

LMD:  Was it the script that brought you both to Get Low?

BM:  Mm-hmm

Sissy Spacek:  I liked the script because I never knew what was gonna happen from one page to the next.  It was not a formula film.  And I thought they were even smarter than I thought they were before when they told me that Bill was gonna play the undertaker, then I got really excited about it because I thought, ĎOh my gosh, theyíre smart enough to know how incredible he would be in then theyíve gotta be smarter than I thought they were in the beginning.  They had the brains to want Bill in that role; they had to be even more clever than I had imagined in the beginning.  Because when I first read it, it was the story of Felix Bush, which is a great story on its own, but then to have Bill Murray play the other character, it just added such an unexpected and refreshing and fabulous element to it, I thought, these guys got it goiní on.

BM:  Now you know why you gotta be hard to get, you look better.  Sissy is talking about the movie and what it was like and she says really nice things about me, but itís really nice having Sissy in the movie, too, because you gotta have a girl thatís like dreamy, kinda like the guys would make a fool of themselves for.  Then youíve gotta imagine a girl thatís dreamy like that and itís her sister and thereís like a triangle between them, so you go, ĎWow, her sister mustíve been hot as hell, too.í  So youíve got this kind of idea, ĎWow, can you imagine the two of them?í  What that energy mustíve been like to have two girls like that in one house?  So, getting that person that can not just look that way, and evoke that feeling from you, but be able to show the disappointment and the heartbreak of when the truth is revealed and to see the subtle kind of flirtation of this is a man and we had this thing and there it is.  Then to have this truth come and this devastating news, you gotta have real chops, you gotta have real goods to do that, you know?

SS:  My ego was a little wounded after that scene, I have to admit.

BM:  I mean, really, it was powerful stuff to see her go through that because you have to be incredibly vulnerable and open to let it touch you and let it show.  So, it was tough to look at, it was really tough to watch.  As amazing as it was to watch Bob do the scene, with your other eye, you went, ĎGod, this is killing her, just killing her.í  And even though itís acting, you feel it, itís real.

 

LMD:  Well, Mr. Zanuck also mentioned you keeping a boombox on set and keeping the extras entertainedÖ

BM:  Yeah, on a lighter note!

SS: {Laughs} Letís lighten the mood!

 

LMD:  Was that a conscious thought for you, to keep the mood light in the middle of all the heavy drama on the set?

BM:  Well, thatís my job.  I feel thatís part of my job because I feel like Iím, I dunno, like a veteran, you know?  Thatís what youíre supposed to do; you gotta keep the calm or the peace.  People get nervous, you want people to be relaxed and the musicís there to provide tempo, to keep you going.  If it starts to drag on the set, or you feel like this isnít a fun experience, people will get down. The energy gets down; you gotta keep the energy up.

SS:  Cos it was so cold, it was freezing!

BM:  It was freezing cold, it was very uncomfortable conditions. Really, really cold.  So you had to keep the mood, up.  You had to keep the tempo up.  You had to keep the feeling up like, ĎHey, weíre doing something thatís really exciting.  This is fun.  Itís fun being with these people.í  And the more fun you have the better you do it.

SS:  I said to Bill one day, who was always keeping things lively on the set, I said, ďMan Bill, you are really funny.Ē ďYou oughtta meet my sister.  Sheís the funny oneĒ

 

LMD:  Did you feel a responsibility to do that, to be that person on the set keeping things light?

BM:  Well, I feel that pressure in life, you know?  I donít feel like itís a pressure, itís sort of an obligation, not to entertain or be funny, but to have a certain levity, and I donít mean it just in terms of just being jocular.  I mean, thereís gotta be lightness in your way.  You have to be as light as you can be and not get stuck in your emotions, stuck in your body, stuck in your head.  You just always want to be trying to elevate somehow.

SS:  And thatís what you did in the film, too.  The way you played that character, you elevated the film and gave it buoyancy, I think.

 

LMD:  Ms. Spacek, Mr. Duvall was telling me about ďrelaxingĒ into his characters as he did with Felix.  Mattie in many ways is the most heartrending, complicated role in the film.  What was it like to get in and out of her skin?

SS:  Sheís a mess!  I donít take characters home with me, really, but I find itís like what Iíve heard Bill say, we relate to a character and you find that character within yourself.  So itís just all parts of me.  I guess I donít leave characters behind, but I just let them go dormant {Laughs}.  I had a much more fulfilling emotional life than Mattie.  Mattie, I have a feeling that she married someone that wasnít the man of her dreams and lived a relatively happy life.  I donít think she had children, maybe she married him later in life, had a good life, but I think that her heart really was with Felix Bush. 

BM:  Right.

SS:  And I think she had to have been a pretty strong person to have endured opening herself up to him again after all those years and finding out that she never was to him was he was to her.  I mean, that was a body blow, and to find out about her sister.  So thatís why I love so much what Bill brought to the film, because Mattie was in the depths of despair and interestingly enough, there was a whole part of the film that didnít make the final film because it didnít quite fit in.  It was sort of a little budding relationship between our two characters and I always imagined that they probably ended up together and lived happily ever after upstairs over the funeral parlour.  Or maybe they moved into her house!

 

~ The Lady Miz Diva

April 27th 2010

 

 

 

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Photos

Exclusive photos by LMD

Film stills courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

 

 

 

 

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