The self-made man: Duvall floats ‘Apostle’

NEW YORK — After a career that spans three decades — including an Oscar for “Tender Mercies” and memorable work in the first two “Godfather” pictures, “The Great Santini,” “Lonesome Dove,” “Network” and “Apocalypse Now” — Robert Duvall has overcome his greatest career hurdle.

After writing, directing and starring in “The Apostle,” which will make its world premiere at the upcoming Toronto Film Festival, Duvall maintains that the hardest part of the business isn’t any of the above: The hardest part is financing, a chore he also performed for “The Apostle.”

“When it comes to raising money, guys will offer their wives before they write a check for $5 million,” Duvall said. For 13 years, the actor to get somebody to sign a check with the number five and six zeroes. It finally came, but he had to sign it himself. The film’s greenlight came from his personal accountant.

“We couldn’t get a nickel, even after I won the Oscar,” Duvall said. “I’d be wooed by agents saying they could get it made, then the honeymoon period would be over and I was no closer. Finally, it was Joel Jacobson, my business manager, who made the overture about financing it. I figured he’s so conservative, if he thinks I should do it, maybe I should do it.”

Once Duvall agreed to pay all the bills, the rest was familiar territory. In “The Apostle,” Duvall plays a devout Pentecostal preacher from Texas whose faith is tested when his wife (Farrah Fawcett) fools around with another minister and wrests control of his congregation.

“About 25 guys from distributors have called my little office in Virginia,” Duvall said. “I’ve told them all the premiere is 6:30 p.m. Sept. 6 in a big theater. I’m told it’s a great festival to make a distribution deal.”

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