September 02, 2011
Friday, the latest golf movie, "Seven Days in Utopia," hits the theaters. It's a movie about a down-and-out golfer finding his game and more in a small town thanks to Robert Duvall's character. We got a chance to chat with the 80-year-old actor about the movie, and golf, and the conversation is below. Enjoy, and go check out the movie over this Labor Day weekend.
DB: First things first, what is it about these golf movies that always have the guys melting down? You had "Tin Cup" and now "Seven Days of Utopia"?
Duvall: I don't know, because I've never seen that movie, but I know this is the first time ever in a golf movie that you have someone that can hit the ball. This guy is a scratch golfer, Lucas Black, plus a wonderful actor.
DB: That was my next question ... in 2007, Golf Digest listed him as a 2.3 handicap, he can really play, right?
Duvall: Yeah, he plays well, he's right down there. He told me that in a 100-player pro-am he got third place, so that's pretty darn good.
DB: I couldn't find much about your golf game, do you play, or have you ever played?
Duvall: No, I don't play golf. I believe in hobbies, but golf takes too much time. It's a wonderful game, and many people from different walks of life play it, but I played a little bit way, way back, but I'm not a golfer.
DB: Do you follow the game? Do you watch golf on TV?
Duvall: Sporadically. I like this young kid from Northern Ireland, [Rory McIlory], is pretty interesting, but we've got to get some back in this country, it seems that the British Isles have some of the best golfers.
DB: Do you think that it's good that these days we have guys like Y.E. Yang and Geoff Ogilvy and guys from all over that compete all the time that compared to something 30 or 40 years ago, that wasn't so much the case?
Duvall: Yeah, why not? It's like my business, there's more wonderful young actors than ever. This country, different races, and all countries, so it's like my profession and like golf, it's open for all, and everybody is invited that wants to come and do it.
DB: You've been making movies since 1959, you're 80 now, is there a golfer you could compare yourself to career wise, like someone like Sam Snead?
Duvall: Yeah, maybe so, I like to compare myself maybe to Jack Nicklaus, because someone once said that he said, "If you come in with four things on your mind, you better stay at home, three things that's OK, two things, yeah, and with one thing that's bothering you, he will end up in the top 10, but if he had nothing on his mind when he came to play, nobody could beat him," and I think that's similar to my profession, because if you come in with a clear conscious and start from zero, and a good sense of neutrality, then you can really advance and do good work, and accomplish things you want to accomplish.
DB: You are 80 years old, are you slowing down anymore or going to keep pressing on and making more movies?
Duvall: I'm getting some nice offers, I just finished one of the most unique projects of my whole career with Billy Bob Thorton called "Jayne Mansfield's Car" and I've never read such a unique script.
DB: You once said, about acting, "between action and cut, it's a nice world, but you can't force that anymore than you can force it in life." I almost feel like that could aptly apply to golf.
Duvall: Yeah, totally. Absolutely applies to golf. You have to keep those things out of your mind that bother you.
DB: My final question, if you have seven days in Utopia with Tiger Woods with his current golf game, what would you tell him to get him back in shape?
Duvall: I would not know how to approach that, I would just say be alone to yourself, and go back to zero, and start from there and see where that takes you.
I guess he has a lot on his mind, and that's why he hasn't had his game back. Don't judge himself, and maybe others won't judge him so much, we all have our faults. He's just a great talent, and I hope he can get back what he once had.