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Duvall, Turning 80, Puts His Hands in Cement at Grauman's Chinese

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood January 6, 2011 at 12:24AM

The Hollywood press corps, friends and supporters sang "Happy Birthday" to 80-year-old Robert Duvall at Grauman's Chinese Theater Wednesday as he placed his hands and feet in cement. "It's long overdue," said crony James Caan, who had co-starred with Duvall in The Godfather and wished he had made 25 more films with him.
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Thompson on Hollywood
Thompson on Hollywood

The Hollywood press corps, friends and supporters sang "Happy Birthday" to 80-year-old Robert Duvall at Grauman's Chinese Theater Wednesday as he placed his hands and feet in cement. "It's long overdue," said crony James Caan, who had co-starred with Duvall in The Godfather and wished he had made 25 more films with him.

Andy Garcia and Billy Bob Thornton also lent their support to their friend and mentor, who they consider to be more than actor, but an artist. They recalled talking with him about horses, the mambo and the tango, and lately, meat. Duvall, who has been acting for 50 years, thanked his friends and his wife, Luciana Pedraza, recalling his old pal Wilford Brimley telling him, as he was falling in love with the much younger woman (who shares the same birthday), "it's bad enough getting old, you don't want an old wife."

Thompson on Hollywood
Thompson on Hollywood
Thompson on Hollywood
Thompson on Hollywood
Thompson on Hollywood


Don't mess with James Caan. I sat on a seat close to the dais labeled "J. Caan," which may explain why the actor looked witheringly at me from the podium and said, "What's with you?"

Sony Pictures Classic co-presidents Michael Barker and Tom Bernard were on hand; paying the $30,000 or so for a ceremony like this serves their Oscar campaign for Duvall's performance as a recluse in Get Low, which earned him a nomination from the Screen Actors Guild. (He won an Oscar for Tender Mercies.) Duvall hopes to star in a film written and directed by Thornton this spring.

The birthday celebration for Duvall continued at a lunch at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, as Caan regaled Garcia, Duvall and Thornton with a story about falling off a horse during the Robert Altman film Countdown and winding up naked in a bathtub at the house of an actress of whom he was terrified. He imitated Duvall's gleeful laugh as he abandoned him there.

My flipcam interview with Duvall covers a number of his upcoming projects, including one with Thorton that he hopes to shoot this spring, he said at the ceremony.

This article is related to: Awards, Studios, Oscars, Sony/Screen Gems/Sony Pictures Classics


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.