About The Production
A stirring and heartfelt drama about one man's journey on the road to redemption
A stirring and heartfelt drama about one man's journey on the
road to redemption. THE APOSTLE represents a tour
de force for Robert Duvall, who triumphs in the title role of
a film he also wrote, produced and directed. As Euliss "Sonny"
Dewey, a Pentecostal preacher who must start life over
after committing a crime of passion, Duvall is joined on screen
by an exciting and eclectic cast that includes two time Oscarnominee
Miranda Richardson, Academy Awardwinner Billy Bob Thornton,
musical legend June Carter Cash and, in a striking departure from
her previous film roles, Farrah Fawcett. The film, which Duvall
lovingly developed for well over a decade, worldpremiered
to great acclaim at the 1997 Toronto International Festival of
Festivals. THE APOSTLE will he distributed in early l998
by October Films.
In a role that stands firmly beside his Oscarwinning turn
in 'Tender Mercies". Duvall creates yet another indelible
and quintessentially American character someone who
strives to be largerthanlife but who is brought down
to size by his own human frailty. A preacher since boyhood, Sonny
has spent his life starting churches of his own or making "guest"
appearances throughout the South. Equally popular with white,
black and Hispanic worshippers, his fireandbrimstone
revivals, mixing song, dance, and topof-thelungs religion,
are soldout everywhere. In the orbit of evangelical ministers,
Sonny may be a star. But, while he appears to be in command of
the countless souls he preaches to, he is not always in command
of his own.
Robert Duvall knew he wanted to make a film about a Pentecostal
preacher after visiting a small Arkansas church more than 13 years
ago. "So many actors try to get films made," says the
awardwinning actor, "but it's really difficult. 'The
Apostle' script had a lot of supporters, like Horton Foote
and Ulu Grosbar, but we couldn't raise the money for it. Even
though there are twenty million Pentecostals in this country
and two hundred million worldwide, the concept is outside the
mainstream and not understood by the film industry, which has
a history of patronizing the preaching world.'' Faced by
indifference to a project about which he was so passionate,
Duvall took a greater leap of faith than any portrayed within
his script: he decided to "greenlight'' the project himself,
adding executive producer and finances to his roles as screenwriter,
director, and leading actor.
As fashioned by Duvall the screenwriter, the story of Sonny's
redemption follows a longstanding
tradition in Southern literature in which a charismatic and mysterious
stranger comes to a small town and has a transforming effect
on the community. In the process the stranger is himself transformed.
In works like "The Reivers" and "Barn Burning"'
(the story that became "The Long Hot Summer"). Faulkner
used this very structure, as did Carson McCullers in "The
Heart is a Lonely Hunter" and Flannery O'Connor in "Wise
Blood." Interestingly, John Huston's adaptation of
the O'Connor book is one of the few screen incarnations of an evangelist that Duvall approves of. "I think in 'Wise
Blood,' Ned Beatty did a wonderful job as a street corner preacher
in a cameo. That's the only time I think I've seen it done well.
Usually, films tend to caricature preachers. They put everything
in quotes and really look down on them by not portraying them
accurately. The subject fascinated me because I'd never r
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