With a career spanning seven decades, Oscar winner and owner of one of the most common faces in modern cinema, Robert Duvall arrives the 90 years having lived a life of cinema. Without children but married four times, this actor of unparalleled talent has been part of the cinephile culture for several generations, infecting us with his passion for the seventh art as an actor, producer and director. However, one of his greatest passions, and that not everyone knows, is on his feet.
Robert Duvall is a passionate tango dancer and even came to unite all his passions in one when he directed Assassination tango, making a movie that featured dance scenes and with his wife, Argentina Luciana Pedraza.
I remember the day I interviewed him. It was 2012 and the actor was accompanying Tom Cruise on the promotional tour of Jack Reacher. My cinephile heart was pounding stronger than ever and with a smile I couldn’t contain I walked into a London hotel room to chat with him. I did not have a question about the film prepared, my intention was to talk about the past, its legacy and purely about cinema. And I met a smiling man, happy to continue in the cinematographic rodeo and with more anecdotes than I could summarize in a few minutes interview. But the first thing he asked me was where he was from and when he let him know that he was originally from Argentina, his eyes went wide. Suddenly his face glowed differently. “My wife is Argentine! I love tango!”Was his first statement. And I will never forget her for how spontaneous and natural she was. And so, almost nine years ago, I learned that this man had another passion beyond cinema. That guy I had grown up with watching in El Padrino, Apocalypse Now and so many other films, he was in love with his wife, tango and Argentina.
Duvall met his fourth wife, Luciana Pedraza, at the door of a pastry shop in 1997. He had gone to a flower shop, but when he saw that it was closed, he kept walking and ran into Luciana. At that time the girl was 24 years old and he was 65, and since she worked as an event planner, she invited him to the opening of a tango salon that celebrated his company. They both have the same birthday on January 5, but they were born 41 years apart. He was in Argentina shooting a movie and came back two weeks later just to see it. They married in 2005 and have been dancing for life together ever since.
Duvall already liked tango before he met Luciana. His ex-wife Sharon Brophy was a dancer and danced with one of the men who participated in a Broadway show titled Tango Argentina. Moved by curiosity, the actor studied dance in the US and traveled to Argentina several times to learn more, and little by little he fell in love with Buenos Aires, the food and everything else. Between trips he met some of the most prominent professionals in the city, learning and practicing with them. If he was not filming in some corner of the world, he was in Buenos Aires spending nights dancing in tango halls. “For me it is a hobby. I didn’t grow up with him, but on a good day, I can dance tango quite well ” said several years ago to The Argentina Independent.
“A great dancer from Argentina once told me that to be a great tango dancer you must be a pimp, a thief, a bookmaker“, said to The New York Times in 2003. “Now if you ask tango dancers, they would totally deny it. But it has that feeling of being something sordid, from the underworld. It also has sweetness ”.
The passion he feels for tango and the country led Robert to direct, produce and star in a film entitled Assassination Tango released in 2002. It is a thriller shot in Buenos Aires where Luciana made her debut as an actress, sharing dance scenes together in front of the cameras. In the story, the actor plays a hit man who falls in love with tango during a mission in the Argentine capital.
Furthermore, Luciana is not a dancer and she learned to dance tango just to accompany her husband in history. The film was nothing to write home about and hardly had an impact, but the scene of both dancing denotes precisely that passion I am talking about:
It turns out that few know it, but this actor who many relate to film classics and his political participation in the campaigns of Rudy Giuliani in 2007 or in that of John McCain and Sarah Pallin a year later; He is a dancer of the Argentine dance. It even has a tango studio in Argentina and another in the United States (Wikipedia) and has founded a foundation with his wife to assist families in northern Argentina in the renovation of their homes, medical centers and schools.
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Robert Duvall, a passionate tango player in Hollywood