Robert Duvall, Raw

The legendary actor talks about his Oscar-nominated film "Crazy Heart" and what inspires him as an actor.

Continued from page 1

No, they needed my name in the movie, they said. So I said, “Okay, I'll do it.” That's what it boils down to, to be quite honest.

Among other things, the movie is an underdog story. What is it about underdog stories that you think resonates with so many people?

I don't know. [But they] especially [like the] underdog if they're [in a] country western [movie]. Not that people love country western music, but they seem to like country western movies. I guess they like the underdog. They like drunks or something. I don't know, maybe the rejuvenation, redemption.

There's a lot of spiritual themes in the movie, too, as you just mentioned--redemption, salvation. Were you attracted to that aspect of the film?

No, no. I just was attracted to it because it was a good story. I try not to look for messages in films.

The difference between this and "Tender Mercies" was I had a support system in "Tender." There was a wife, a child, a new child, a stepson, and a baptism--a spiritual baptism. Blake has no support system, other than my friendship. The guy's out there on his own. He had a wonderful scene with Brian Gleason playing his son that was cut. Shouldn't of been cut, but it was. And even his son puts him out.

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So he's really treading on thin ice at the end, and hopefully he'll come through in a positive way. The way Jeff played it, he played it so well, it works, I think.

What do you think of Maggie Gyllenhaal's role? Do you think she's going to win an Oscar?

I have no idea. It could be political, very political. They [the Academy] can be political. She did a good job...and the song.

You said you don't like to look for messages in film, but what do you hope that people come away from "Crazy Heart" thinking or feeling?

[That it's] a feel-good movie. If they feel good, that's good. Come away, feel good, that's their hope, that you can make your life better. Make it better. You can do better.

I like the fact that this woman [Jean Craddock, played by Maggie Gyllenhaal], once the guy [Bad Blake] jeopardizes her son, she cut him off. Most women would go right back into that relationship. And, at the end of movie, [you might have] kept saying, "Well, I hope they get together again." But, when you really think about it, you've got to have a lot of respect for the character that Maggie played. She did not go back to the guy, because he jeopardized the safety of her son.

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