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