After graduating from Principia College in Elsah, Illinois, Duvall, against his father’s wishes, joined the U.S, Army for two years before continuing his theatrical studies at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City. His roommates at the time were aspiring actors Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman.
He began performing on stage off-Broadway and appeared in his first television role in 1960, at the age of 29. His first film appearance was in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962).
Equally adept as a character actor as well as in leading roles, Duvall has received seven Academy Award nominations and one Best Actor Oscar for Tender Mercies (1983).
He also has four screenwriting credits, twelve film production credits, and four directing credits.
Duvall has been married four times:
- Barbara Benjamin, dancer, 1964-1975, divorced;
- Gail Youngs, actress, 1982-1986, divorced;
- Sharon Brophy, dancer, 1991-1996, divorced;
- Luciana Pedraza, actress/director, 2004-