Getting his start in theater in the late 1950s, actor, director and producer Robert Duvall moved to roles on television and films during the early 1960s and became a major presence in Hollywood films starting in the 1970s. A multiple Academy Award nominee, the San Diego native received his first Oscar nomination for his scene stealing portrayal of Tom Hagen in Francis Ford Coppola's highly acclaimed “The Godfather” (1972), for which he also picked up a BAFTA nomination and a New York Film Critics Circle Award. He earned his second Oscar nomination seven years later after playing the supporting role of Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore in Coppola's “Apocalypse Now” (1979), where he also won a Golden Globe Award and a BAFTA Award for his performance. After gaining a Best Actor Oscar nomination for “The Great Santini” (1979), Duvall eventually took home the trophy in 1984 thanks to his starring role of Mac Sledge in the movie “Tender Mercies” (1983). The role also brought the actor his next Golden Globe Award. He then received nominations for his starring role in “The Apostle” (1997) and supporting role in “A Civil Action” (1998, won a Screen Actors Guild Award). “The Apostle,” which Duvall directed and wrote, garnered the actor Independent Spirit Awards for Best Director and Best Male Lead and a nomination for Best Screenplay, among other recognitions. His more recent film credits include “Gone in 60 Seconds” (2000), “Open Range” (2003), “Thank You for Smoking” (2005), “Lucky You” (2007), “The Road” (2009) and “Crazy Heart” (2009). On the small screen, Duvall won an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie and Outstanding Miniseries for the 2006 miniseries “Broken Trail” (2006). He also collected Emmy nominations for his performances in “The Man Who Captured Eichmann” (1996), “Stalin” (1992) and “Lonesome Dove” (1989) and Golden Globes Awards for the latter two shows.
On September 18, 2003, Duvall was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame in recognition for his motion picture work. He also received a Career Achievement Award from the National Board of Review Awards, a President's Award from the American Society of Cinematographers (both 1997) and a Special Award, Texas Legend at the 1998 Lone Star Film & Television Awards. In addition, he was awarded the Taormina Arte Award at the 2003 Taormina International Film Festival, the Donostia Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2003 San Sebastián International Film Festival and the Peter J. Owens Award at the 2010 San Francisco International Film Festival.
Duvall is married to equestrian and events planner Lucianna Pedraza, who is 41 years his junior. He was previously married to Barbara Benjamin (1964-1975), Gail Young (1982-1986) and Sharon Brophy (1991-1996) and was once romantically linked to actress Lindsay Crouse (together in the 1970s). He has no children.
Childhood and Family:
Robert Selden Duvall was born on January 5, 1931, in San Diego, California, to William Howard Duvall, a former U.S. Navy admiral, and Mildred Virginia, an amateur actress. His family relocated to the east coast when he was ten years old and lived primarily in Annapolis, Maryland. He attended Severn School in Severna Park, Maryland, and The Principia School in St. Louis, Missouri, and graduated from Principia College in Elsah, Illinois, in 1953, with a degree in performing arts. After college, he served in the Army from August 1953 to August 1954 and in 1955, moved to New York City to attend the prestigious Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theatre, where he studied under acting coach Sanford Meisner. The middle of three brothers, Robert's older brother, William Duvall, is a music teacher at the University of Wisconsin and his younger brother, John Duvall, is a lawyer. They both appeared in his film “Angelo My Love” (1983).
Robert has been married four times. He was married to designer Barbara Benjamin from 1964 to 1975. He then married actress Gail Young (born in 1953), the sister of actors John Savage and Jim Youngs, on August 22, 1982, but they divorced in 1986. He was married to his third wife, Sharon Brophy, a dance instructor, from 1991 to 1996. While in Buenos Aires, Argentina, he met Lucianna Pedraza, the granddaughter of celebrated Argentine aviator Susana Ferrari Billinghurst, and they began dating in 1997. After a seven year relationship, the couple eventually married on October 6, 2004.
While serving in the Army, Robert Duvall acted in an amateur production of the comedy “Room Service” and as a student of Sanford Meisner, was cast in Tennessee Williams' “Camino Real” and Horton Foote's “The Midnight Caller.” As a struggling actor in New York City, he supported himself by taking on various odd jobs, including working as a post office clerk, and shared an apartment with actors Gene Heckman and Dustin Hoffman. In 1958, Duvall began his professional stage career with the role of Frank Gardner in an off-Broadway production of George Bernard Shaw's “Mrs. Warren's Profession” at the Gate Theatre. He branched out to the small screen the next year with the role of Berks in “The Jailbreak,” an episode of the NBC series “Armstrong Circle Theatre.”
In the early 1960s, Duvall went on to appear in episodes of “Playhouse 90,” “Great Ghost Tales,” “Cain's Hundred,” “Shannon,” “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” “The Untouchables,” “The Twilight Zone,” “Arrest and Trial” and “The Outer Limits,” to name a few series. His first film role arrived when he was cast as Arthur 'Boo' Radley in the 1962 dramatic classic “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which was directed by Robert Mulligan and starred Gregory Peck, John Megna and Frank Overton. The film was an adaptation of Harper Lee's novel of the same name. In his second film, “Captain Newman, M.D.,” (1963) which was directed by David Miller, he appeared opposite Gregory Peck, Tony Curtis, Angie Dickinson, Eddie Albert and Bobby Darin. It was followed two years later with a featured role as a motorcyclist in the 1965 crime film “Nightmare in the Sun.”
During this time, Duvall also acted on stage and appeared as Doug in the premiere of Michael Shurtleff's “Call Me By My Rightful Name” in 1961 and Bob Smith in William Snyder's “The Days and Nights of BeeBee Fenstermaker” in 1962. In 1965, he picked up an Obie Award after portraying Eddie in Arthur Miller's “A View From the Bridge,” a production staged by Ulu Grosbard with Dustin Hoffman serving as the assistant director. He went on to make his Broadway debut in an original production of Frederick Knott's “Wait Until Dark” in 1966, where he starred as Harry Roat. Also in 1966, Duvall supported Marlon Brando and Jane Fonda in the Arthur Penn directed film “The Chase,” which was based on the play of the same name by Horton Foote. He then appeared with Tony Franciosa, Jill St. John and Jack Klugman in the NBC television film “Fame Is the Name of the Game,” which served as the pilot episode of the subsequent series “The Name of the Game.” He next played the supporting role of Chiz in the science fiction thriller “Countdown” (1968), which marked his first feature with director Robert Altman and actor James Caan, worked with Frank Sinatra in the film adaptation of Roderick Thorp's novel “The Detective” (1968), for director Gordon Douglas, appeared with Steve McQueen, Robert Vaughn and Jacqueline Bisset in Peter Yates' thriller “Bullitt” (1968), and was cast as Ned Pepper, the nemesis of John Wayne's Marshall Rooster, in Henry Hathaway's “True Grit” (1969). He made first screen collaboration with director Francis Ford Coppola in “The Rain People” (1969), for which he was also reunited with James Caan. The latter half of the 1960s saw the actor guest starring in countless TV series, including “T.H.E. Cat,” “Combat” and “The F.B.I,” to name a few.
Starting in the 1970s, Duvall emerged as a crucial figure in American cinema. In Robert Altman's “M*A*S*H” (1970), he received a respectable amount of attention for his portrayal of Major Frank Burns, opposite Donald Sutherland and Tom Skerritt as Captain “Hawkeye” Pierce and Captain “Duke” Forrest, respectively. After starring with Jon Voight and Seymour Cassel in “The Revolutionary” (1970), he starred in “THX 1138” (1971), which became the feature directorial debut of George Lucas and was executive produced by Coppola. He then costarred with Burt Lancaster, Robert Ryan and Lee J. Cobb in the western “Lawman” (1971), which was written and directed by Michael Winner, was cast as Jesse James in Philip Kaufman's “The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid” (1972), starred in “Tomorrow“ (1972), which was scripted by Horton Foote, and supported Clint Eastwood in “Joe Kidd” (1972). He also delivered a critically praised performance as lawyer Tom Hagen in the highly successful gangster movie “The Godfather” (1972), which was adapted from the novel of the same name by Mario Puzo and directed by Coppola from a screenplay by Puzo, Coppola, and Robert Towne (unaccredited). Starring Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone, the boss of the Corleone family, and Al Pacino as the youngest son, Michael Corleone, the film received rave reviews from critics and was nominated for 11 Oscars, in which it won Best Picture, Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, and Best Actor in a Leading Role (Brando). The hit also won many other awards and nominations, including five Golden Globe awards. For his good acting in the film, Duvall received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.
Following work in Tom Gries' “Lady Ice” (reunited with Donald Sutherland), “Badge 373,” a failed thriller by director Howard Koch, and John Flynn's “The Outfit” (all 1973), Duvall had an unaccredited part in Coppola's “The Convention” (1974), where he worked with his old friend Gene Hackman. He then reprised his role of Tom Hagen for “The Godfather Part II” (1974), starred as George Hansen in Sam Peckinpah's “The Killer Elite” (1975), costarred with Charles Bronson in Gries' “Breakout” (1975), and was cast as Dr. Watson in the 1976 Sherlock Holmes film “The Seven-Per-Cent Solution.” He next starred with Donald Sutherland and Michael Caine in the based on novel “The Eagle Has Landed” (1976), for director John Sturges, and was nominated for a BAFTA in the category of Best Supporting Actor for a notable performance as television executive Frank Hackett in Sidnet Lumet's “Network” (1976). In 1977, Duvall entered the directing world with the documentary “We're Not the Jet Set,” which was about a rodeo family in Nebraska. He also made his return to Broadway in David Mamet's “American Buffalo,” where he played Walter Cole. The same year, he portrayed Bill McDonald in a film about the life of boxer Muhammad Ali called “The Greatest” and Tom Hagen in the TV miniseries adaptation “The Godfather: A Novel for Television.”
After roles in the films “The Betsy” (1978) and “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1978), Duvall was cast as enthusiastic Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore in Coppola's Vietnam epic “Apocalypse Now” (1979) and was handed his second Oscar nomination in the category of Best Actor in a Supporting Role for the performance. The role also brought him a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Actor in a Supporting Role, a BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor and a Marquee for Best Supporting Actor at the 1980 American Movie Awards. He also starred as Lieutenant Colonel Bull Meechum in Lewis John Carlino's drama “The Great Santini,” for which he nabbed an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor and a Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award in the same category.
Duvall next starred as Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1980 TV miniseries “Ike: The War Years” before sharing the screen with Robert De Niro and Charles Dunning in “True Confessions” (1981), a film loosely based on the Black Dahlia murder case of 1947 and directed by Ulu Grosbard. He won a Pasinetti Award for Best Actor at the 1985 Venice Film Festival for his work. 1981 also found him working with Treat Williams, Kathryn Harrold and R.G. Armstrong in Roger Spottiswoode's “The Pursuit of D. B. Cooper.”
Duvall did not win an Oscar until he was cast in the starring role of country western singer Mac Sledge in the Horton Foote written drama “Tender Mercies” (1983), which was not a success at the box office despite receiving critical acclaim. Directed by Bruce Beresford, it was nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture, and won the awards for Best Original Screenplay for Foote and Best Actor for Duvall. Adding to his Oscar, Duvall picked up a Golden Globe Award, a Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award, a Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award and a New York Film Critics Circle Award. 1983 also saw Duvall play Bill Vigars in the HBO film “The Terry Fox Story,” a biopic of Canadian amputee and runner Terry Fox. He made his feature directing debut with “Angelo My Love,” which he wrote and produced. Starring Angelo Evans, the drama was screened at the 1983 Cannes Film Festival out of competition.
Next up for Duvall, he appeared in such films as “The Stone Boy” (1984, as Joe Hillerman), Barry Levinson's “The Natural” (1984, as sportswriter Max Mercy), “The Lightship” (1985, as Calvin Caspary), “Belizaire the Cajun” (1986, as The Preacher), “Let's Get Harry” (1986, as Norman Shrike), “Hotel Colonial” (1987) and Dennis Hopper's “Colors” (1988, as Officer Bob Hodges). In 1989, he starred as Augustus “Gus” McRae in “Lonesome Dove,” a CBS TV miniseries adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel of the same name by Larry McMurtry. He was handed a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV, a Western Heritage Bronze Wrangler and an Emmy nomination in the category of Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Special for his acting.
Always busy, Duvall next teamed up with Amy Irving, Andy García, Lou Diamond Phillips and Erik Estrada in Bruno Barreto's “A Show of Force” (1990), Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman and Randy Quaid in Tony Scott's “Days of Thunder” (1990), and Natasha Richardson, Faye Dunaway, Aidan Quinn and Elizabeth McGovern in Volker Schlöndorff's “The Handmaid's Tale” (1990). He then appeared with Laura Dern, Diane Ladd, Lukas Haas and John Heard in Martha Coolidge's “Rambling Rose” (1991), where he netted an Independent Spirit nomination for Best Lead Male for his portrayal of Daddy Hilyer, and Christian Bale and David Moscow in Kenny Ortega's “Newsies” (1992). He again received attention on the small screen with his acclaimed role of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in the HBO film “Stalin” (1992), for which he nabbed a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV and an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Special. Duvall continued to work in such films as “Falling Down” (1993), Walter Hill's “Geronimo: An American Legend” (1993), “Wrestling Ernest Hemingway” (1993), Ron Howard's “The Paper” (1994, with Michael Keaton and Glen Close), Lasse Hallström's “Something to Talk About” (1995, as the lost father of Julia Roberts), “The Stars Fell on Henrietta” (1995, opposite Billy Bob Thornton), Roland Joffé's “The Scarlet Letter” (1995, with Demi Moore and Gary Oldman), the Richard Pierce directed, Billy Bob Thornton scripted “A Family Thing” (1996, with James Earl Jones), “Phenomenon” (1996, with John Travolta, Kyra Sedgwick and Forest Whitaker), and “Sling Blade” (1996). He then appeared in the TNT television film “The Man Who Captured Eichmann” (1996), where his portrayal of Adolph Eichmann earned the actor an Emmy nomination and a Screen Actors Guild nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie.
In 1997, Duvall received praise for directing, writing and starring in the dramatic film “The Apostle.” He was nominated for an Oscar in the category of Best Actor in a Leading Role and a Screen Actors Guild for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role, and won various other awards for his performance, such as an Independent Spirit Award, a Florida Film Critics Circle Award, a Chicago Film Critics Association Award, a Las Vegas Film Critics Society's Sierra Award, a National Society of Film Critics Award, a Golden Satellite Award, a Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award and a Society of Texas Film Critics Award. He also received an Independent Spirit award for Best Director and another nomination for Best Screenplay.
Duvall was reunited with director Robert Altman for the 1998 thriller “The Gingerbread Man,” which also starred Kenneth Branagh, Embeth Davidtz, Robert Downey Jr., Tom Berenger and Daryl Hannah, and played Captain Spurgeon “Fish” Tanner in Mimi Leder's hit disaster film “Deep Impact” (1998). However, it was his performance in Steven Zaillian's drama “A Civil Action” (1998), opposite John Travolta, that brought the actor further recognition. As Jerome Facher, he received a Screen Actors Guild for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role, a Florida Film Critics Circle for Best Supporting Actor, an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Role, a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture and a Satellite nomination for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture.
Entering the new millennium, Duvall played roles in “Gone in 60 Seconds” (2000, with Nicolas Cage, Angelina Jolie, Giovanni Ribisi, Christopher Eccleston and Delroy Lindo), “The 6th Day” (2000), “A Shot at Glory” (2000, also a producer and co-writer), Ronald F. Maxwell's “Gods and Generals” (2002, as General Robert E. Lee), Nick Cassavetes' “John Q” (2002, starred Denzel Washington), the Kevin Costner directed western “Open Range” (2003), for which he shared a Western Heritage's Bronze Wrangler for Outstanding Theatrical Motion Picture, and Tim McCanlies' “Secondhand Lions” (2003, as Hub). He returned to the director's chair to helm the thriller “Assassination Tango” (2002), which he wrote, produced and starred in. He then received a Grand Special Prize nomination at the 2003 Deauvenille Film Festival for his work on the film.
Duvall resurfaced in 2005 with the role of Will Ferrell's father in the comedy “Kicking & Screaming,” which was directed by Jesse Dylan and produced by Judd Apatow, and the main role of Doak Boykin in Jason Reitman's satirical comedy “Thank You for Smoking.” The same year, he also narrated an episode of the PBS documentary TV series “The American Experience” called “The Carter Family: Will the Circle Be Unbroken.”
The next year, Duvall enjoyed success on the small screen when he produced and starred as Prentice Ritter in the western miniseries “Broken Trail,” which originally aired on American Movie Classic on June 25, 2006. For his work in the production, Duvall picked up two Emmys for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie and Outstanding Miniseries, a Bronze Wrangler for Outstanding Television Feature Film, a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor - Miniseries or Television Film and a Screen Actors Guild nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie.
Duvall was next cast as the father of Eric Bana in “Lucky You” (2007), a movie directed by Curtis Hanson, costarred with Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Wahlberg and Eva Mendes in the James Gray drama “We Own the Night” (2007), played Vince Vaughn's father in Seth Gordon's romantic comedy “Four Christmases” (2008), portrayed an old, dying man in the feature adaptation of Joe Penhall's novel “The Road” (2009), starred as Felix Bush in “Get Low” (2009) and had a supporting role in Scott Cooper's “Crazy Heart” (2009), which he also produced.
Duvall will portray Johnny Crawford in “Seven Days in Utopia” (2011), a movie directed by Matt Russell, and Don Quixote in the upcoming film “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” (2011), by director Terry Gilliam.
Independent Spirit: Best First Feature, “Crazy Heart,” 2010
San Francisco International Film Festival: Peter J. Owens Award, 2010
Emmy: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie, “Broken Trail,” 2007
Emmy: Outstanding Miniseries, “Broken Trail,” 2007
Western Heritage: Bronze Wrangler, Outstanding Television Feature Film, “Broken Trail,” 2007
Western Heritage: Bronze Wrangler, Outstanding Theatrical Motion Picture, “Open Range,” 2004
San Sebastián International Film Festival: Donostia Lifetime Achievement Award, 2003
Taormina International Film Festival: Taormina Arte Award, 2003
Florida Film Critics Circle (FFCC): Best Supporting Actor, “A Civil Action,” 1999
Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role, “A Civil Action,” 1999
Florida Film Critics Circle (FFCC): Best Actor, “The Apostle,” 1998
Blockbuster Entertainment: Filmmaker Award, 1998
Chicago Film Critics Association (CFCA): Best Actor, “The Apostle,” 1998
Independent Spirit: Best Director, “The Apostle,” 1998
Independent Spirit: Best Male Lead, “The Apostle,” 1998
Las Vegas Film Critics Society: Sierra Award, Best Actor, “The Apostle,” 1998
National Society of Film Critics (NSFC): Best Actor, “The Apostle,” 1998
Golden Satellite: Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama, “The Apostle,” 1998
Lone Star Film & Television: Special Award, Texas Legend, 1998
American Cinema Foundation: Carl Foreman Prize, 1997
American Society of Cinematographers: President's Award, 1997
National Board of Review: Career Achievement Award, 1997
Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA): Best Actor, “The Apostle,” 1997
Society of Texas Film Critics (STFC): Best Actor, “The Apostle,” 1997
Western Heritage: Bronze Wrangler, Theatrical Motion Picture, “Geronimo: An American Legend,” 1994
Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV, “Stalin,” 1993
Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV, “Lonesome Dove,” 1990
Western Heritage: Bronze Wrangler, Television Feature Film, “Lonesome Dove,” 1990
Golden Boot: 1989
Venice Film Festival: Pasinetti Award, Best Actor, “The Lightship,” 1985
Oscar: Best Actor in a Leading Role, “Tender Mercies,” 1984
Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama, “Tender Mercies,” 1984
Kansas City Film Critics Circle (KCFCC): Best Actor, “Tender Mercies,” 1984
Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA): Best Actor, “Tender Mercies,” 1983
New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC): Best Actor, “Tender Mercies,” 1983
Venice Film Festival: Pasinetti Award, Best Actor, “True Confessions,” 1981
Kansas City Film Critics Circle (KCFCC): Best Actor, “The Great Santini,” 1981
Montréal World Film Festival: Best Actor, “The Great Santini,” 1980
American Movie: Marquee, Best Supporting Actor, “Apocalypse Now,” 1980
BAFTA Film: Best Supporting Actor, “Apocalypse Now,” 1980
Golden Globe: Best Motion Picture Actor in a Supporting Role, “Apocalypse Now,” 1980
New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC): Best Supporting Actor, “The Godfather,” 1972