As Robert Duvall tells it, the movie A Night in Old Mexico — which opened May 16 and is now available on VOD — has been a long time in the making. The iconic actor spoke to TIME last week about how the project came to fruition, and the story starts way back with 1989’s Lonesome Dove, another Western by William Wittliff. Though he was too young to play Mexico‘s hero at the time, as he tells it in the video above, he stuck with the story of Red Bovie, an aging rancher on the verge of losing his ranch who heads across the border with his long-lost grandson for one last night of fun. Duvall says that eventually he told the producers that if they pulled the plug on the movie, he’d be as sad as Red Bovie losing his ranch.
It’s a film that meshes well with the Duvall oeuvre of Westerns — “it’s a modern-day Western,” he says, “in spirit.” Though the film doesn’t make use of Duvall’s love of horses and skill in the saddle, which were some of the original reasons he fell for the genre, it has the wardrobe down pat. Here, Duvall discusses how he chooses a hat for a cowboy role:
The 83-year-old actor says he has no particular plans to retire; he’ll stop acting when people stop offering him good parts, he says. He hasn’t heard anything about the long-stalled Terry Gilliam/Don Quixote project to which he was attached in the past, which is now reportedly moving forward without him, but says he has a good few projects left in him. For example, he’s hoping to make a movie this summer about the Texas Rangers, which would star his wife as one of the few female Rangers.
There’s great potential for projects that would grab his attention. Smart young people today are writing scripts rather than novels, he believes, and film is in a good place. And, though he says that Hollywood hasn’t changed in that “there’s always action and cut,” he’s observed an opening-up of the medium, for the better: