Robert Duvall

Robert Duvall

Jan. 5th, 1931
Born in
San Diego, California, USA
5' 10"

Robert Duvall's Main TV Roles

Show Character(s)
The Outer Limits (1963) TV Show
The Outer Limits (1963)
Lonesome Dove TV Show
Lonesome Dove
Later with Bob Costas TV Show
Later with Bob Costas
Ike TV Show
Shannon (1961) TV Show
Shannon (1961)
Great Ghost Tales TV Show
Great Ghost Tales

Main Movie Roles

2015 - Wild Horses
2014 - A Night in Old Mexico
2013 - Jayne Mansfield's Car
2013 - Casting By
2012 - Jack Reacher
2011 - Seven Days in Utopia
2010 - Get Low
2009 - Crazy Heart
2008 - Four Holidays
2007 - Lucky You
2007 - Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience
2005 - Thank You for Smoking
2005 - Kicking & Screaming
2003 - Gods and Generals
2003 - Open Range
2003 - Secondhand Lions
2002 - John Q
2001 - Apocalypse Now Redux
2000 - Gone in Sixty Seconds
2000 - The 6th Day
1998 - The Gingerbread Man
1998 - A Civil Action
1998 - Deep Impact
1997 - The Apostle
1996 - Sling Blade
1996 - Phenomenon
1995 - Something to Talk About
1995 - The Scarlet Letter
1994 - The Paper
1993 - Geronimo: An American Legend
1993 - Falling Down
1993 - Wrestling Ernest Hemingway
1992 - Newsies
1991 - Rambling Rose
1991 - Convicts
1991 - Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse
1990 - The Handmaid's Tale
1990 - Days of Thunder
1988 - Colors
1986 - Let's Get Harry
1986 - The Lightship
1984 - The Natural
1983 - Tender Mercies
1981 - The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper
1981 - True Confessions
1979 - The Great Santini
1978 - Invasion of the Body Snatchers
1976 - Network
1976 - The Seven-Per-Cent Solution
1976 - The Eagle Has Landed
1975 - The Killer Elite
1975 - Breakout
1974 - The Conversation
1974 - The Godfather: Part II
1973 - The Outfit
1972 - The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid
1972 - The Godfather
1972 - Joe Kidd
1971 - Lawman
1971 - THX 1138
1970 - MASH
1969 - True Grit
1968 - Bullitt
1968 - The Detective
1966 - The Chase
1963 - Captain Newman, M.D.
1962 - To Kill a Mockingbird
1956 - Somebody Up There Likes Me

Guest TV Roles

Show Name
Characters Played
Ep Count
Johnny Albin
Barney Sonners
Leslie Sessions
Luke Jackson
Charley Parkes
Himself - Guest
Joby Pierce
[Complete List]


Veteran actor and director Robert Duvall was born on January 5, 1931, in San Diego, CA, the son of a career military officer who later became an admiral. Duvall majored in drama at Principia College (Elsah, IL), then served a two-year hitch in the army after graduating in 1953. He began attending The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre In New York City on the G.I. Bill in 1955, studying under Sanford Meisner along with Dustin Hoffman, with whom Duvall shared an apartment. Both were close to another struggling young actor named Gene Hackman. Meisner cast Duvall in the play "The Midnight Caller" by Horton Foote, a link that would prove critical to his career, as it was Foote who recommended Duvall to play the mentally disabled "Boo Radley" in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962). This was his first "major" role since his 1956 motion picture debut as an MP in "Somebody Up There Likes Me", starring Paul Newman.

Duvall began making a name for himself as a stage actor in New York, winning an Obie Award in 1965 playing incest-minded longshoreman "Eddie Carbone" in the off-Broadway revival of Arthur Miller (I)'s "A View from the Bridge", a production for which his old roommate Hoffman was assistant director. He found steady work in episodic TV and appeared as a modestly billed character actor in films, such as Arthur Penn (I)'s The Chase (1966) with Marlon Brando and in Robert Altman (I)'s Countdown (1968) and Francis Ford Coppola's The Rain People (1969), in both of which he co-starred with James Caan (I).

He was also memorable as the heavy who is shot by John Wayne (I) at the climax of True Grit (1969) and was the first "Maj. Frank Burns", creating the character in Altman's Korean War comedy MASH (1970). He also appeared as the eponymous lead in George Lucas (I)' directorial debut, THX 1138 (1971). It was Francis Ford Coppola, casting The Godfather (1972), who reunited Duvall with Brando and Caan and provided him with his career breakthrough as mob lawyer "Tom Hagen". He received the first of his six Academy Award nominations for the role.

Thereafter, Duvall had steady work in featured roles in such films as The Godfather: Part II (1974), The Killer Elite (1975), Network (1976), The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976) and The Eagle Has Landed (1976). Occasionally this actor's actor got the chance to assay a lead role, most notably in Tomorrow (1972), in which he was brilliant as William Faulkner (I)'s inarticulate backwoods farmer. He was less impressive as the lead in Badge 373 (1973), in which he played a character based on real-life NYPD detective Eddie Egan (I), the same man his old friend Gene Hackman had won an Oscar for playing, in fictionalized form as "Popeye Doyle" in The French Connection (1971).

It was his appearance as "Lt. Col. Kilgore" in another Coppola picture, Apocalypse Now (1979), that solidified Duvall's reputation as a great actor. He got his second Academy Award nomination for the role, and was named by the Guinness Book of World Records as the most versatile actor in the world. Duvall created one of the most memorable characters ever assayed on film, and gave the world the memorable phrase, "I love the smell of napalm in the morning!".

Subsequently, Duvall proved one of the few established character actors to move from supporting to leading roles, with his Oscar-nominated turns in The Great Santini (1979) and Tender Mercies (1983), the latter of which won him the Academy Award for Best Actor. Now at the summit of his career, Duvall seemed to be afflicted with the fabled "Oscar curse" that had overwhelmed the careers of fellow Academy Award winners Luise Rainer, Rod Steiger and Cliff Robertson (I). He could not find work equal to his talents, either due to his post-Oscar salary demands or a lack of perception in the industry that he truly was leading man material. He did not appear in The Godfather: Part III (1990), as the studio would not give in to his demands for a salary commensurate with that of Al Pacino, who was receiving $5 million to reprise Michael Corleone.

His greatest achievement in his immediate post-Oscar period was his triumphant characterization of grizzled Texas Ranger Gus McCrae in the TV mini-series "Lonesome Dove" (1989), for which he received an Emmy nomination. He received a second Emmy nomination and a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in Stalin (1992) (TV), and a third Emmy nomination playing Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in The Man Who Captured Eichmann (1996) (TV).

The shakeout of his career doldrums was that Duvall eventually settled back into his status as one of the premier character actors in the industry, rivaled only by his old friend Gene Hackman. Duvall, unlike Hackman, also has directed pictures, including the documentary We're Not the Jet Set (1977), Angelo My Love (1983) and Assassination Tango (2002). As a writer-director, Duvall gave himself one of his most memorable roles, that of the preacher on the run from the law in The Apostle (1997), a brilliant performance for which he received his third Best Actor nomination and fifth Oscar nomination overall. The film brought Duvall back to the front ranks of great actors, and was followed by a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nod for A Civil Action (1998).

Robert Duvall will long be remembered as one of the great naturalistic American screen actors in the mode of Spencer Tracy and his frequent co-star Marlon Brando. His performances as Boo Radley in "To Kill a Mockingbird", Jackson Fentry in "Tomorrow," Tom Hagen in the first two "Godfather" movies, Frank Hackett in Network (1976), Lt. Col. Kilgore in "Apocalypse Now", Bull Meechum in "The Great Santini", Mac Sledge in "Tender Mercies", Gus McCrae in "Lonesome Dove" and Sonny Dewey in "The Apostle" rank as some of the finest acting ever put on film. It's a body of work that few actors can equal, let alone surpass.

  • A staunch, lifelong supporter of the Republican party, Duvall was personally invited to 'George W. Bush' (qv)'s inauguration as President in 2001. Duvall attended the ceremony.
  • Received an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, Virginia in 1998.
  • His favorite city is Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is an avid Tango dancer.
  • Hosted a fundraiser for 'Rudolph W. Giuliani' (qv) at his Hollywood home in January 2008. He later endorsed Senator 'John McCain (I)' (qv) after Guiliani dropped out.
  • Owns a large estate in rural Virginia, where some skirmishes of the Civil War were fought (he has found shells and other artifacts on the property). Some scenes in _Gods and Generals (2003)_ (qv) were filmed on his land.
  • Has been had a role in more American Film Institute Top 100 films (six), than any other actor. _To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)_ (qv), _Apocalypse Now (1979)_ (qv), _The Godfather (1972)_ (qv), _The Godfather: Part II (1974)_ (qv), _MASH (1970)_ (qv) and _Network (1976)_ (qv). 'Robert De Niro' (qv) and 'James Stewart (I)' (qv) were each in five.
  • Was roommates and good friends with 'Dustin Hoffman' (qv) and 'Gene Hackman' (qv) while all were struggling stage actors in New York before any of them struck it big. Among the three, Hoffman and Duvall were known for their ways with the women, and Duvall and Hackman were known for their short fuses, which led to numerous bar fights. The three often bonded over elaborate practical jokes.
  • Was director 'Robert Altman (I)' (qv)'s first choice for country singer in _Nashville (1975)_ (qv), but he used 'Henry Gibson (I)' (qv) instead when Duvall couldn't do it because of the scheduling. (source: Nashville commentary track).

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