He told The Early Show on Friday he gets to use all of those talents for his latest film "Assassination Tango." In the film he plays a hit man who learns the pleasures of dancing the tango from his new teacher, a beautiful dancer.
"It's a very complex film because there are moments like that where there's laughter and a little bit of levity," says Duvall. "But then there are moments where it is about assassination — a hit man."
The film is a personal project to Duvall because he wrote it years ago and recently rehash it to bring it to the movies. Thanks to financing from his good friend Francis Ford Coppola (For those who don't know, Coppola directed Duvall in the film, "The Godfather), he was able to create his small film and share his vision.
Duvall's character, John J., is an assassin hired to kill an Argentine general in Buenos Aires. He doesn't think about the morals of his action. Duvall says the assassin just wants to do his job, do it well, get paid and get home. But when the General unexpectedly delays his return to Buenos Aires, John's neat plans are trashed.
John finds he has to wait for the General's return, so he explores the city and soon discovers the world of the tango. He is infatuated by the dance and learns the tango from (Luciana Pedraza), a charming, brilliant dancer who becomes his teacher and guide into the world of this new dance.
For his screenplay, Duvall pieced the tango with the political difficult times and situations of immunity by generals in Buenos Aires.
Duvall professes to be a fan of the tango.
"I saw [a] show on Broadway years ago, and I began to like it," says Duvall. "It is a social dance. The kind of thing you would do in a dance hall or a wedding … It can be slow. It can be fast. An uncle can dance with a niece. A mother with a son. So, in Argentina, which is still the Mecca, they do not talk about the tango as passionate or sexual. Maybe sensuous."
Duvall says having the right partner makes the dance nice, and for the movie, Luciana Pedraza was the perfect dance partner.
"She's a natural actress," says Duvall. "I like taking the tango dancers and making them actors and taking actors and making them tango dancers."
As a director, Duvall says he gave Pedaraza freedom to act — even letting her choose some camera angles for her character.
"Those scenes where she didn't know me, she distanced herself purposely on that given day so she didn't really know me so it was like a tentative thing," remembers Duvall. "And we had spent months and months improvising and rehearsing, and so she was ready. She was ready."
Duvall says the release of his movie at a time of war wasn't planned and may or may not hurt the film's performance. But he says, "Life goes on. You have to do your business."
Some Facts About Robert Duvall