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Robert Duvall Reflects on Cowboys, Naps and the Smell of Napalm in the Morning

Oscar-winning actor, 83, is the real deal

Robert Duvall: What I Know Now.

Ruggedly handsome Robert Duvall is back in theaters with "A Night in Old Mexico." — Getty

Keeping on

En español | I could have stopped [working] 30 years ago, but if something's novel, I'll take it. At 83, I try to think of myself as having potential and possibility until the day I quit.

Unflappable? Not

Hopefully one's temperament improves with age. I try to stay loose, but sometimes the best thing to do is get yourself away. One of the secrets is a good nap every day.

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Fountain of youth

When I met my wife, who is very young, she'd say, "What will it be like growing old together?" I said, "I already am old!" Her father said he didn't know whether to call me father or son. Truth is, I like hanging around younger people. It gives you a sense of enthusiasm, of what's to come.

Keys to a good marriage

Love, patience, respect for each other, consideration — all that. But you have to have that connection, and that's something you can't force.

Leaving a mark

In America, we've got cowboys. As an actor, you don't reinvent something like the Western. You make it your own: "If I were in this situation, what would I do as a cattleman?" Suddenly your fingerprints are all over the place.

Thankful always

People come up and think it's the first time anyone's ever said, "Hey, I love the smell of napalm in the morning." You just have to smile and appreciate their support. Wherever I am in the world, I never get tired of someone reaching out like that.

The real deal

I do my own horsemanship in the movies. I do my own dancing, too. I did a tango movie once and somebody said, "Oh, yeah, somebody's doubling for him." No way.

Duvall appears in the Western A Night in Old Mexico, currently in theaters and on video on demand.

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