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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings: Nnekai
|| 0:00:00
...  
🔇
X
August 26, 2015 2:42 PM
Nigerian singer, songwriter Nneka sits down with Border Crossings host Larry London to perform songs from her latest CD, "My Fairy Tales" and to talk about her inspirations and influences.

Nigerian singer, songwriter Nneka sits down with Border Crossings host Larry London to perform songs from her latest CD, "My Fairy Tales" and to talk about her inspirations and influences.