Their tight-kit bond was palpable when the two actors joined our awards editor Tim Gray at our Variety Studio at the Toronto Film Festival.
When discussing finding humor in one particularly difficult scene — a bathroom scene where Downey must help Duvall after he’s collapsed — Downey summed up the essence of their drama “The Judge.”
“Like the movie, I believe the heart of that scene isn’t anything that’s graphic or deep or dramatic about it,” he said. “I think it’s the turn that the scene takes.”
Downey said he had an epiphany about what makes the movie unique when watching the pic during its Friday premiere at TIFF.
“This movie is entertaining and has great wit and great laughs from the beginning up until the end and in so much as that it’s a drama,” he said. “I always say a drama has to be 30% comedy and a comedy has to be 30% drama — not to stick to those hard and soft rules.”
Duvall agreed that “you have to offset one another.”
“Vulnerability thrown in, humor thrown in — it’s a composite of things,” he said.
Duvall then revealed some of their on-set shenanigans that kept the mood light during the most intense moments.
“We left notes for each other right before takes,” he said, recalling one message. “‘There’s a girlfriend still looking for you. Can I give her a message from 18 years ago?’ We left messages to break it up. You gotta’ have fun.”
In fact, Downey said those moments of humor in between takes fueled their performances.
“When a shoot’s going well, it’s a lot lighter,” he said. “We had so many laughs during the times where you’d think we’d be somber doing our deep preparation and all that stuff. It also helps that we have (Duvall). He loves to tell stories.”
“You do, too,” Duvall said, jumping in.
“That’s right. We love to tell stories,” Downey corrected himself before Duvall shared one story about co-star Billy Bob Thornton.
“Billy Bob says rehearsal’s for pussies and only two takes,” Duvall recounted proudly as Downey laughed.
“The Judge” hits theaters on October 10.