For decades, A Night in Old Mexico was a pipe dream for Robert Duvall and writer Bill Wittliff. And the story of how it came to be is almost as interesting as the film itself.
The movie follows Duvall as Red, a financially down on his luck senior citizen who is forced to sell his family’s ranch to developers. While Red struggles to rebuild his life after losing his home, he and his estranged grandson become the targets of drug dealers who are looking for a missing money bag.
According to a 2014 interview with Cowboys and Indians, Duvall was dreaming of filming the movie “for more than 25 years” before it finally became a reality. And Wittliff had been “working on it way before that.” But for a few different reasons, the duo had a hard time getting the Western flick off the ground.
Robert Duvall’s ‘A Night in Old Mexico’ Went Through Three Directors Before Hitting the Big Screen
A Night in Old Mexico went through a few different directors over the years, including Hoosiers actor Dennis Hopper.
Robert Duvall didn’t share why Hopper dropped the project. But years after he did, someone Duvall only referred to as “a French guy” signed on to run the flick. However, thanks to a “crazy” friend, he bailed.
“There was a French guy here in Austin that was going to direct it,” said Duvall. “And my crazy friend Danny Davis, as he got into the car with [the French director], he threw a pistol onto the seat, and the director sat on the pistol. He yelled, ‘Danny is a gangster!’ And then [that director] disappeared.”
Then after a few more years of trying, the story found its final director, Emilio Aragón. And because of him, the movie actually made it to the big screen.
“[Emilio Aragón] came along — a Spanish guy. He had the money. And he loved the script,” Duvall added. ” So I guess that shows the story has a universal appeal.”
Most actors and writers would give up on a movie before putting more than two decades worth of time into finding a director. But the thought of ditching A Night in Old Mexico never crossed Robert Duvall’s mind.
And during his interview, the Lonesome Dove actor remembered exactly why he was so determined to turn the script into a movie.
“Well, it was always hanging there, always in the background,” he shared. ” And then it didn’t work out with Dennis Hopper; it didn’t work out with the French director. But, I don’t know, Red is just a wonderful character. And it’s a sweet movie. No gratuitous sex, no gratuitous violence. It’s a nice tale with humanity and humor. A tale that needed to be told. And it finally came into being.”