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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  • 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!

  • 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.