News / Arts & Entertainment

Aging Man Plans Unusual Personal Funeral in 'Get Low'

Robert Duvall as Felix Bush
Robert Duvall as Felix Bush

Multimedia

Audio

Oscar winner Robert Duvall could be up for that top film award again for his portrayal of a crusty recluse in a quirky drama set in the American south during the Great Economic Depression of the 1930s. Here's a look at Get Low.



With his wildly overgrown beard and driving his mule-drawn wagon, Felix Bush is certainly noticed when, for the first time in decades, he comes to town and books a date at the local funeral parlor.

"You want to be at your funeral party alive?"

"Yes sir."

"But you can't have a funeral if you're not deceased."

"Hold on now. It's a detail. We can look at it."

Robert Duvall as Felix Bush
Robert Duvall as Felix Bush

The subject of much gossip and many whispered secrets, he has lived a solitary life on his farm; now, sensing he may soon Get Low (a old expression for dying), he wants to hear some of those legends before he reveals the true story.

"I want everybody to come who has got a story to tell about me."

"That probably covers about four counties."

"Then I want four counties' worth of people at the party."

"It's like a mystery in the town. People all have a different opinion of him," explains Robert Duvall, who stars as the mysterious hermit. The 79-year-old actor admits the character got under his skin.

"I like him a lot. You've got to like the people you play," he notes, "[and] I like Felix Bush. He's an interesting man and I thought about it a lot. I worked on it by thinking about it… ruminating, daydreaming - day and night - about him. Usually I just forget something when it's over, but it really stayed with me."

Left to Right: Robert Duvall as Felix Bush and Bill Murray as Frank Quinn.
Left to Right: Robert Duvall as Felix Bush and Bill Murray as Frank Quinn.

Bill Murray plays the funeral director anxious to keep the cantankerous customer satisfied. Well known for his broad comedy, Murray says this character's wry humor and somewhat shady past lets him give audiences something unexpected.

"You always want to try to surprise people with your rhythm," explains Murray,  "so you speak a certain way and then when people think something is going to happen you leave them enough time to become available for an answer that may not be the one they're expecting."

Left to Right: Sissy Spacek as Mattie Darrow and Robert Duvall as Felix Bush.
Left to Right: Sissy Spacek as Mattie Darrow and Robert Duvall as Felix Bush.

The cast also features Oscar winner Sissy Spacek as a woman from Felix's past.

"Oh for heaven's sake! A thousand years ago he was the most interesting man I'd ever met."


"There is a lot in the details in this movie," Spacek says. "It's about not so much what people are doing, but how they are doing it and their behavior."

Left to Right: Robert Duvall and Aaron Schneider
Left to Right: Robert Duvall and Aaron Schneider

Those details come from the seven-year effort that it took director Aaron Schneider to get his feature film debut before the cameras - a project that began with a true story from Tennessee.

"What actually did occur is this hermit in the mid-1930s rode into town on his mule - his only companion - and put together a funeral party while he was still alive," explains Schneider. "We did a little research. I actually went out to Tennessee and started asking questions like 'Why? Why do you think he would do this?' Just about everyone asked really didn't know. They ventured guesses, but nobody really knew: maybe vanity, maybe he had some secret… but nobody knew. So it started to become a mystery. The biggest part of development was the question why… why would somebody do something like this… and that is what we built the fiction on."

Get Low is the kind of smaller scale, independent film often described as "character-driven" (as opposed to the action-packed spectacles that dominate the box office charts). Schneider says the emphasis on character made the casting of screen veterans like Spacek and Duvall essential.

Left to Right: Robert Duvall as Felix Bush, Lucas Black as Buddy and Bill Cobbs as Rev. Charlie Jackson.
Left to Right: Robert Duvall as Felix Bush, Lucas Black as Buddy and Bill Cobbs as Rev. Charlie Jackson.

"It's a gentle page-turner," he says. "I like to call it the kind of story your grandfather would tell you around the fire or something and you have to cozy up to it. Before you can cozy up to any movie, you have to really feel for the people on screen. You have to get to know them as people. They have to be fully fleshed-out characters that are interesting to watch. So that's what we strived to create in the development of the screenplay. Then it was about making sure that we had actors that could do that, because not all of them can."

"It sounded like you said you want me to preach at your funeral party with you sitting there."

"Yes, sir."

"I've talked to God a lot about you over the years. He said he broke the mold when he made you. He said you sure are entertaining to watch, but way too much trouble."


Get Low also features character actor Bill Cobbs as a minister and life-long friend of the old recluse; and Lucas Black plays the young funeral home assistant who becomes personally involved in the search for the true story. The film was shot on location in rural Georgia, outside of Atlanta.

You May Like

New England Bears Brunt of US Blizzard

Boston, surrounding region grapple with as much as 3 feet of snow, coastal flooding; leaders in New York, spared most severe weather, criticized for being overly cautious More

China Lifts Lid on Sale of Fake Goods Online

A recent survey found nearly 60 percent of a random sample of items bought from Taobao were fake More

Upward Aims to Create Old-girls Network in Silicon Valley

Lisa Lambert, an executive with Intel Corp.'s venture-capital unit, responds to the gender-disparity debate by creating a new social organization More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

Singer Leyla McCalla takes up not only the guitar, but the banjo and cello to perform songs from her new disc, “A Tribute to Langston Hughes,” music that mixes the Creole rhythms of Haiti with the French Quarter flavor of New Orleans on this edition of "The Hamilton Live."