Robert Duvall: Why the Hollywood Legend’s Only Line in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ Was Cut

by Josh Lanier
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Robert Duvall has had some iconic movie roles, but one of the first big roles he landed on To Kill a Mockingbird ended up on the cutting room floor.

He explained what happened on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Thursday night.

The movie is based on the classic novel of the same name. Duvall plays the iconic character Boo Radley, and following the scene where he saves the lives of Scout and Jem, he had one line, according to The Hollywood Reporter. But you wouldn’t know that if you’ve watched the movie.

“At the end, when they’re leading me home, they say, ‘We’re going to take you home,’ and I say something like, ‘Where are you taking me?’ or ‘Where?’ Something like that,” Duvall said. “That was all, but they cut the line.”

To Kill a Mockingbird is considered one of the greatest books and greatest film ever made. It was nominated for eight Oscars and won three. That includes Best Actor for Gregory Peck, who played Atticus Finch.

And Colbert has made his love of Peck’s performance clear on his show. The late-night host can even recite the famous courtroom closing argument scene word for word.

But despite losing his one big line in Mockingbird, Robert Duvall has done quite well for himself. He’s starred in dozens of classic movies including True Grit, Apocalypse Now, Godfather I and II, and Network, which happens to be Colbert’s favorite film and hands down one of the greatest movies ever made.

Duvall also won an Oscar in 1984 for Best Actor for his role in Tender Mercies. But he said the letter his Godfather co-star Marlon Brando wrote him about his performance in that movie means as much as the Oscar itself. Though, he wouldn’t divulge what the letter said.

Robert Duvall Has a Career of Great Lines

And despite losing his single line in To Kill a Mockingbird, Robert Duvall has a career filled with famous lines. Recently, when John Wayne’s estate asked for their favorite quote from one of The Duke’s movies, Duvall was at the top of that list.

Duvall, who plays the villain Ned Pepper, and three of his compatriots have a shootout on horse back after Wayne’s Rooster Cogburn asks them to leave or he’ll see them hanged. Duvall delivers the iconic line “I call that bold talk for a one-eyed fat man!,” which starts the bloody firefight.

But his most famous line is likely from Apocalypse Now. Duvall plays Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore, who leads a squad of men via helicopter to destroy a Vietnamese village. After landing and calling in an airstrike on the nearby tree line, Kilgore delivers the unforgettable line “I love the smell of Napalm in the morning.”

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