Sissy Spacek and Robert Duvall live near each other in the Virginia countryside, but had never met until they worked together on Aaron Schneider's Get Low.
The two play long-time friends with a secret from the past (and a prickly history) that brings them together in Get Low. Get them together in a New York hotel room, however, and it's less an interview than a directed conversation, with the reporter as a privileged guest. The two Oscar winners have an easy-going camaraderie that flows through the conversation.
Q: You play a hermit in Get Low. Do you have any hermit-like tendencies in real life?
Duvall: When I'm at home in Virginia, I become more hermit-like. I like my own home.
Spacek: Now, don't make it sound too good.
Duvall: It's less that I'm a hermit and more my sense of privacy.
Spacek: It's that security you get when a person is surrounded by the things that comfort you most.
Duvall: The most solitary I ever felt was when I was living in New York. I used to live in Enrico Caruso's old apartment, and I had a special staircase that took me up to the roof. There was nobody up there.
Spacek: Really? Living in New York always felt to me like living in the middle of a carnival. It never stopped. There was something very exciting about it.
Duvall: Still, it felt sometimes like everyone in New York was living in a box.
Spacek: Yes, but some boxes have bigger windows than others.
Q: You both live in Virginia. Did you know each other before this film?
Duvall: No, we didn't. (to Spacek) My wife once went to your property to look at a horse. I don't know if you were there.
Spacek: Isn't that amazing?
Duvall: I once lived in an apartment that (Spacek's cousin) Rip Torn bought on W. 22nd St. here in New York. I had the upstairs and Dustin Hoffman had the downstairs.
Q: You'd never worked together -- so did you have any expectations about each other?
Spacek: My only preconception was true: That he's brilliant. The thing that amazed me was how simple he makes it look. You never see him act. All you have to do is react. He's found the railroad track and he's in the groove. I know he does a lot of preparation but he makes it look effortless.
Duvall: Well, it's like my movie, The Apostle. Some people in the North don't get that movie. They think that, in the South, if you don't shout, you can't play one of those guys. But for me, the challenge is how you turn a character into behavior. Once the director says action, you just try to live between those two worlds.
Q: What was it like working with Bill Murray?
Spacek: The beautiful thing about Bill is that he's funny all the time. He doesn't turn it off and on.
Duvall: He's always funny.
Spacek: I went to a mall with Bill in Atlanta, and he was so dear with people who recognized him in stores. I told him, "You're going to ruin your reputation."
Q: You've both done some great TV in the last couple of years with Broken Trail and your character on "Big Love." Is that where the quality is these days?
Duvall: I'd wanted to do Broken Trail for a while as a movie and couldn't get any interest so I thought, well, why don't I do it on TV? And they were interested.
Spacek: Things are all changed now. There are stories you can tell on TV that can't be told in movies anymore.
Duvall: I've got one on the Pony Express I want to do. And a two-part miniseries about border sheriffs. It's a wonderful script but I don't know if I'll ever get it done.