Robert Duvall Gets Lively with Mark Moring

Interviewing Robert Duvall for Get Low, Mark Moring stirred the actor up for a lively conversation about The Apostle.

Check it out.

Here’s my favorite stretch of the conversation:

You observed a lot of preachers while doing your research, didn’t you?

All over America. And mostly in black churches. I love going to black churches, and I love some of these black preachers. The best preacher I ever saw in my life was a 93-year-old in a black church in Hamilton, Virginia. What a preacher! He’d make Mahatma Gandhi look like a Nazi. He was so spiritual, this man. A wonderful man.

Some people thought The Apostle was mocking Southern holiness or Pentecostal preachers …

Who said that?

Oh, some Christians wished it had been a more positive portrayal of a preacher rather than a man with all these …

Let me straighten these people out. And you can put it in print. My guy [Rev. Euliss "Sonny" Dewey, the title character] killed a guy out of anger, right? But he wasn’t one half as bad as King David in the Psalms, who sent a man off to be killed so he could be with his wife. Every time I read the Psalms I think of that. But on the other hand, I heard that Billy Graham liked the movie, and many, many preachers did. Rev. James Robison of Fort Worth said I could use anything from any of his services to put in the film. So I’m not mocking.

If Hollywood had done this, they would have mocked these people. No, I did not mock these people. I didn’t patronize these people. I’ve been in many, many churches, Pentecostal churches. I could have made these people look bad if I wanted to. So you can tell these people I did not mock these people or condescend at all. Had I done it in a Hollywood movie, we would have patronized these people. That’s why I had to do the movie myself.

Why do you think Hollywood has a tendency to mock Christians and preachers?

Well, it’s not just Christians. I mean, I’m a Christian. But they mock the interior of the United States of America, the heartland. They don’t go out of their way to understand what’s really there.

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” called Through a Screen Darkly, and a four-volume series of fantasy novels called The Auralia Thread, which includes Auralia’s Colors, Cyndere’s Midnight, Raven’s Ladder, and The Ale Boy’s Feast. Jeffrey is a contributing editor for Seattle Pacific University’s Response magazine, and he writes about art, faith, and culture for Image, Filmwell, and his own website, LookingCloser.org. His work has also appeared in Paste, Relevant, Books and Culture, and Christianity Today (where he was a film columnist and critic for almost a decade). He lives in Shoreline, Washington. Visit him on Facebook at facebook.com/jeffreyoverstreethq.

  • Brian D.

    That’s a great post, Jeffrey. I think The Apostle is an almost miraculous film when you compare it to Hollywood’s usual approach to the subject. I can’t think of many other movies that not only respect salvation through Christ and meaningful church services, but also include these things as beautifully integral parts of the story’s drama.

  • Jill

    Thank you for posting this, Jeffrey. Somehow I managed to miss seeing The Apostle, but it’s been in my Netflix queue and now I will be moving it up to the top of the list. Duvall is a wise man — I wish that more people refrained from mocking, and instead tried to understand and get to know the hearts of all people.

  • Rick Ro.

    Ditto Mr. Ingham’s response, including his plug for Open Range. Great interview, one worth sharing with believers and non-believers alike!

  • http://mark-t-ingham.com/blog/ Mark T. Ingham

    I love Duvall, thanks for posting this terrific interview. I saw Tender Mercies again last week for the first time in years. What an elegantly told tale that is. I’m also keen to check out The Apostle again very soon — another I haven’t seen in a long time.

    You know, an amazingly good Duvall portrayal I don’t see mentioned that often (from a first-rate modern Western that seems to escape a lot of people’s notice) is Open Range.


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