January 5 ~  Listening to Critics Video on Demand: Duvall

"Listening to critics is like letting Muhammad Ali decide which astronaut goes to the moon." ~ Robert Duvall

count your blessings

Never one to care about critics, the actor's actor and celebration to movie fans, Robert Selden Duvall (1931-) was born on this day in San Diego, California. The middle of three sons, his mother ran a cooking business and his father was a Navy admiral.

In a career of over 40 years, Duvall has appeared in over 80 films and once said: "Stripping away artifice--it's the constant standard I aim for in acting, to approximate life. People talk about being bigger than life--but there's nothing bigger than life."

After serving in the Korean War, Duvall made his acclaimed debut as "Boo" Radley in To Kill A Mockingbird (1962, w/Gregory Peck). Ten years later, he portrayed unforgettable attorney Tom Hagen in Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather (1972, w/Robert De Niro, Al Pacino).

"Somebody once said to me, you want to play the things that are in your dreams," he said.

With Duvall, every role is a memorable dream. He's just a genius: Bullitt (1968, w/Steve McQueen), M*A*S*H* (1970), Network, (1976, w/Sidney Lumet), Apocalypse Now (1979, w/Marlon Brando), The Great Santini (1980), Lonesome Dove (1989, w/Tommy Lee Jones)...

He won his Oscar for 1983's Tender Mercies. Always one to follow his passions, Duvall wrote, directed, starred in, and financed The Apostle (1997, w/ Farrah Fawcett), his 13-year labor of love.

"I like to work. I like working... Each movie is diverse from the other. You always look to find fresh things to do," he said.

When he's not making cinematic magic, Duvall follows another passion-- the tango. He loves the dance; it keeps him feeling young.

Whether dancing, acting, or living, his unique credo has remained: "Don't judge too quickly. Don't patronize. Don't make statements. Don't set people aside. Give them their due."

More Film-Making Quotations

What do critics know?