When Robert Duvall was inducted into the Actor's Hall Of Fame last Sunday, February 9th, 2014, he announced that he would be donating the $10,000 grant that accompanies that honor to his acting alma mater, The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre in New York City. Executive Director, Pamela Moller Kareman released a statement saying - "We are thrilled that Mr. Duvall thinks so highly of the school. We're still going strong after 85 years and Mr. Duvall's generosity will help train the next generation of remarkable actors."
Robert Duvall states: ""For many many years The Neighborhood Playhouse has proved to be a very fine training ground for actors. I am so glad that I was able to benefit from what the Playhouse has to offer. It proved to be a springboard into the reality of what was to come and the real world. I am thankful for that and for having had the opportunity to work with Sanford Meisner. As I told Mr. Meisner many years ago, I always want to consider myself in a state of "potential," that is until I decide that it is time to retire. I would like to thank the Neighborhood Playhouse for helping me find my journey in a most complex world, the entertainment world."
Duvall arrived there in 1955 on the G.I.Bill and studied with Sanford Meisner, the famed acting teacher whose techniques are still the basis of the school's curriculum. In the 2-year conservatory setting students learn a step-by-step procedure to master what is known as the Meisner Technique: "To Live truthfully under imaginary circumstances." If Duvall visited the Neighborhood Playhouse today -- and Kareman has invited him to do that -- he would find much as it was over fifty years ago when he studied there.
As a student, Duvall was in a one-act play by Horton Foote. Foote, a staunch supporter of the Neighborhood Playhouse, saw the production. A few years later when writing the screenplay of "To Kill A Mockingbird, " Foote recommended Duvall for the part of Boo Radley (1962). It was his first film. Foote collaborated many times with Duvall through the years and described him as "our number one actor."
Duvall's iconic roles include Tom Hagen in "The Godfather" and "The Godfather, Part II," and Lt. Colonel Kilgore in "Apocalypse Now." He won an Academy Award for "Tender Mercies' as well as Emmys and Golden Globes and continues as one of our most versatile actors and directors.
The Actors Hall of Fame event on February 9th in Culver City, CA was the organization's first induction ceremony. Duvall is one of 15, including Gene Hackman, Hal Holbrook, Julie Andrews, Maggie Smith, Kirk Douglas, Judi Dench and James Earl Jones, who will be honored for career achievement. The Actors Hall of Fame Foundation is dedicated to restoring dramatic arts education in schools and expanding the value and importance of dramatic arts throughout society. By honoring actors for career achievement in Film, Television and Stage, the Foundation creates opportunities and support for the cultural and educational benefits that dramatic arts make in all of our lives.
The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre, Home of the Meisner Technique, is a full-time acting conservatory in the heart of New York City. Our approach focuses on the artistic growth of the actor through technical training in acting, movement, speech, and voice. The Neighborhood Playhouse offers the serious student what few other acting schools can provide - devotion to rich tradition coupled with forward-thinking innovation. We offer a full time Two Year Certificate Program in professional acting as well as a concentrated Six-Week Summer Intensive.
Every member of the acting faculty at the Neighborhood Playhouse was trained to teach by Sanford Meisner himself. The passion and skill of the Neighborhood Playhouse instructors led The Cambridge Guide to Theatre (Cambridge University Press) to name The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre "the most respected" acting school in the country and "first among all professional training programs."