Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2009

Horton Foote

In the late '50s, I starred in a production of Horton Foote's play The Midnight Caller in New York City. One night he and the film director Robert Mulligan were in the audience together, and a few years later, when Horton adapted the screenplay for To Kill a Mockingbird, he recommended that Mulligan cast me to play Boo Radley. That film gave me my big break. Horton and I went on to collaborate on five films, and we enjoyed 50 years of lasting friendship. While his work is often set in Texas, it is universal in its outreach. He was a kind of rural Chekhov, though he definitely had his own voice. My wife made a documentary about him. In one scene, he is in a vacant theater lobby, just writing. He had this deep concentration — as if he were in a different place and a different time when he wrote. I always said his writing was like delicate sandpiper prints on the beach.

—Robert Duvall

Duvall is an Academy Award–winning actor