The Judge - Robert Downey Jr and Robert Duvall
The Judge - Big city defense attorney Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr) and his estranged father, the local town's judge, Joseph Palmer (Robert Duvall) on trial for murder ©2013 Warner Bros

What a powerhouse combination – Robert Downey Jr and Robert Duvall. They star for the first time together in the new drama The Judge which opens on Friday, October 10th, 2014.

Downey Jr portrays big city defense attorney Hank Palmer, who returns to his childhood home where his estranged father, the town’s judge, Joseph Palmer (Duvall), is suspected of murder.

At the press conference for the movie, several journalists gave Robert Duvall a standing ovation when he entered the room – Robert Downey Jr joined them.

How did it feel making this movie with Robert Duvall?

The Judge - Robert Downey Jr
The Judge – Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr) ©2013 Warner Bros

Downey: The only thing more fun than making a movie with Bobby Duvall is promoting a movie with him. It’s been great to see folks welcoming him up on the stage.

Duvall: When I look at (Downey’s shiny gold tipped) shoes, I’ll be OK. They’re very cool.

In playing a lawyer, do you feel that lawyers have to have a little actor in them too?

Downey: Yeah. I’ve always heard that great lawyers, and Bobby (Duvall) has talked to me about some that he knows, they’re showman or they’re just these really dynamic kind of powerful men and women who command respect wherever they go, but they also know how important the jury is.

I heard Robert Downey Jr first tried to meet you at a restaurant. Do you remember that?

The Judge - Robert Downey Jr and Robert Duvall
The Judge – Father and Son: Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr) and Judge Joseph Palmer (Robert Duvall) ©2013 Warner Bros

Duvall: I didn’t know who he was.

Downey: I’d been trying to meet Bobby for some time. But when you approach an icon in a restaurant when he’s eating, he’s not really interested. When he doesn’t know who you are, that makes it difficult too!.

Did you get nervous working with Robert Duvall?

Downey: I knew this movie was going to be a trial in and of itself, but I remember on the first day Bobby and I are sitting there and Dax (Shepard) as CP has a three-page monologue and we just have to look like I don’t like him and the judge does.

I remember before doing my covers and my heart is pounding in my chest and I think it was because there was so much on the line. I had such high hopes for the film turning out as well as the script that Bill Dubuque turned in, and working on it all this time.

As far as working with Bobby (Duvall), I can overcomplicate things, and it’s exhausting. It’s not that he makes it look easy but he doesn’t use tricks. That’s something I hope to take more on board as I move forward.

Anything surprise you about working with Robert Downey Jr?

The Judge - Robert Duvall
The Judge – Judge, Joseph Palmer (Robert Duvall) ©2013 Warner Bros

Duvall: Nice. Terrific guy. Wonderful actor. His wife (Susan Downey) is a wonderful producer. It was a tough privilege, but a privilege. We had 60 days to do the tough privilege.

Sometimes it seemed like it was only 30 days but we got it done. It was a lot of work but it was good, honest work, and a lot of fun at times.

How refreshing was it to play a character-driven character?

Downey: It was great. It wound up being about all these relationships. I love that we have this secret that isn’t what the audience thinks it is. I love how the audience thinks they know something that Sam ( Vera Farmiga) doesn’t know.

I feel like whatever I do it’s a character study. It’s just that sometimes it’s more robots than others!

The Judge – SoundBytes

Robert Downey Jr was asked how he saw the movie?
Robert Duvall and Billy Bob Thornton, who are good friends, were asked about working together and especially doing the courtroom scenes.
The Judge - Billy Bob Thornton, Robert Downey Jr and Robert Duvall
The Judge – Dwight Dickham (Billy Bob Thornton) with Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr) and Judge Joseph Palmer (Robert Duvall) in the background ©2013 Warner Bros

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.