EXCLUSIVE: Robert Duvall on What's Holding Up Terry Gilliam's Don Quixote Now


Robert Duvall visited New York today for the Tribeca premiere of his drama Get Low, and Movieline sat down for a few minutes to talk about the Oscar-winner's typically superb work opposite Bill Murray, Sissy Spacek and Lucas Black. (The film opens July 30 in limited release.) But Duvall also has an eye on the future -- or specifically, a long-accursed Terry Gilliam project that he previously confirmed he'd take on when (or if) the director can pull it together. Perhaps not surprisingly, Duvall explained today, that could take a while.

I read you're attached to Terry Gilliam's Don Quixote film. Are you actually doing that?

Money! Once again. He saw me do a thing -- if he'd never seen it, he'd never have approached me. He really liked this, too, but I did a movie a while back with Richard Harris (Wrestling Ernest Hemingway) where I played a Cuban barber. And they accepted what I did in Cuba. I worked really hard on it -- the accent. And he saw it and said, "I want you to play Don Quixote." Or a guy from a village whom they make Don Quixote for a commercial. He's really a shoemaker. He's an interesting guy, this guy. He came to my farm in Virginia. He's a wacko, but...


Yeah. He's an interesting guy.

Indeed. Did you know about the cursed nature of the project?

Yes, I saw the documentary [Lost in La Mancha]. And I guess the French actor had learned English for a year and could ride a horse. But it was a different story. This is a guy who was going to become like Don Quixote. And in the end he goes back to shoemaking. It's really a wonderful concept. But he has to get his Sancho Panza. I'm theoretically playing a Latin guy; he needs someone from England. He needs... a name, really. So they're still scratching to get the money, which is a lot more than it was before.

Wow. So Gilliam comes to your farm...

He came to my farm. He's a character; he doesn't like... You know, he doesn't live in America! But he came to my farm in Virginia, and it's beautiful. It's like the English countryside, I guess. He lives in England. And we talked; he'd seen me play the Cuban guy, and he wanted me to play Don Quixote. On the horse and everything. But it's a different take on the guy: He really begins to believe he's Don Quixote, even though he's a shoemaker. I don't even understand the script, totally, because he's just so out there, Gilliam. You know, with dwarfs on the ground and everything. I told him, "You can't have too many dwarfs!" [Laughs] But it was nice. We spent half an afternoon talking, and then he went on. He said, "I'm going to go find my Sancho Panza to play the other guy."

Did you have any recommendations?

For that part? Well, it'd be great if was someone like Danny DeVito -- but a younger guy. He's been through quite a few people. The Irish guy who was in Crazy Heart turned him down, which kind of bugged him.

Colin Farrell?

Colin Farrell. But they need a name. He's going after two people now, but he doesn't want to say who they are until after he gets them. But it's been six months he's been after people. And it's a bigger budget than his others. And he doesn't stick to a budget, they say. He goes on and on. And he's got locations picked out in Spain. So it'll be very exciting. And when the time comes -- and I know for sure -- then I'll start riding horseback every day. In order to look like you're riding poorly, you've gotta ride pretty well as a base. Which I can do, but I don't ride much anymore. I broke six ribs before one Western, and the next one I did, I bought a horse a year in advance to get ready. But with this, I'll just have to take it in degrees, you know? And they've got to have a good stuntman; when I hit the ground rolling, he'll know how to do that. But you know, when the time comes... I can't really start preparing for it until it's greenlit. Until it's really greenlit.


  • Kyle Buchanan says:

    "The Irish guy who was in Crazy Heart..."
    I love you, Robert Duvall.

  • daveed says:

    Sancho should be played by Ricky Gervais.

  • The Cantankerist says:

    "He really starts to believe he's Don Quixote..."
    Don't tell me... and the people around him, initially skeptical, come to believe it too? And his life takes on qualities of the fantastic and surreal, and it all becomes about how the power of belief and faith can transcend yada yada yada?
    Turns out it is cursed, in a roundabout way: it's the film Terry Gilliam will remake over and over until he dies. Spooky!

  • Susan Echols says:

    Dear Mr. Duvall,
    I hope this Don Quixote film will get moving along. Can't wait to see you in something else, anything else! Get Low was great and if I had been keeping up with you better I would have come to Crawfordville, Ga. to see you in person if that could have been posible. You are the only movie
    actor I have ever followed. My brother is also a big fan of yours. Loved your dancing in Assignation Tango. What can you not do well? Keep up the good work, you have a following of many people.