It’s no surprise that Robert Duvall is a cantankerous (and charming) old coot in his new film, “A Night in Old Mexico,” helmed by the Spanish director and composer Emilio Aragón. The 83-year-old is still in fine and feisty form as Red Bovie, an old cowboy forced off his land by developers turning the area into sad excuses for “ranchettes.” Rather than live out his days in a trailer home, Red takes off for a Mexican border town with Gally (Jeremy Irvine, “War Horse”), the cowboy-wannabe grandson he has only just met due to a 40-year estrangement with his only son.
On their way to Mexico, the pair picks up a sketchy pair of hitchhikers; when they can’t keep their hands off Red’s beer, he ditches them by the roadside, inadvertently keeping the small fortune they’ve stolen off a drug kingpin. As they traverse the underbelly of the Mexican town in which they spend the night—from whorehouses to honky tonk beer halls—they are unknowingly being tracked by a variety of gangsters who will stop at nothing to recover their money.
A beautiful singer named Patty Waters (Angie Cepeda) joins their party, and though she’s at least 40 years Red’s junior, she is soon smitten with Red and the way he makes her feel. As the trio works together to wind their way out of increasingly dangerous jams, the audience is rooting for a happy ending.
We sat down with Duvall, Aragón and Cepeda on the day of the film’s world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival, where they filled us in on the down-and-dirty shooting schedule, the extreme heat of southern Texas in August, and why it took 35 years for screenwriter Bill Wittliff (“Lonesome Dove,” “The Perfect Storm” and “Legends of the Fall”) to get this story to the big screen.