Acknowledging his comments would cut off his professional relationship, actor Robert Duvall criticized filmmaker Steven Spielberg for consorting with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.
The DreamWorks studio co-founder visited Cuba in November 2002, but Spielberg’s spokesman insists a quote Duvall attributed to the Oscar-winning director is “totally false.”
Duvall spoke with Charlie Rose of CBS “60 Minutes II” in an interview to be broadcast Wednesday.
“Spielberg went down there recently and said, ‘The best seven hours I ever spent was actually with Fidel Castro.’ Now, what I want to ask him … ‘Would you consider building a little annex on the Holocaust museum, or at least across the street, to honor the dead Cubans that Castro killed.’ That’s very presumptuous of him to go there,” Duvall told Rose, according to a CBS transcript.
In a statement, Spielberg spokesman Marvin Levy insisted the director never made the statement, noting the trip to Cuba was authorized as a cultural exchange by the U.S. government, Reuters reported.
“He never said it, or anything like it,” Levy said.
Duvall told Rose, “I’ll never work at DreamWorks again, but I don’t care about working there anyway.”
During his trip, Spielberg dined with Castro, spending about eight hours discussing cultural and political issues with the Communist leader.
The director was invited by the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Arts and Industry to attend a film festival in his honor. At the dinner with Castro, Spielberg called for an end to America’s hostile relations with Cuba and a lifting of the 40-year-old trade embargo.
He also attended the Havana premiere of his film “Minority Report,” where he addressed an enthusiastic crowd.
Spielberg told the audience Cuba is “exploding with passion and talent and self-respect. I feel so much at home here. I hope to come back many times in the future.”
Last year, singer Harry Belafonte and actor Danny Glover were part of a group of more than 160 that issued a declaration critical of the United States and supportive of the Castro regime.
“A single power is inflicting grave damage to the norms of understanding, debate and mediation among countries,” said the declaration. “At this very moment, a strong campaign of destabilization against a Latin American nation has been unleashed. The harassment against Cuba could serve as a pretext for an invasion.”
Director Oliver Stone, who made a salutary documentary on Castro called “Comandante,” said of the dictator: “We should look to him as one of the Earth’s wisest people, one of the people we should consult.”
Actor Kevin Costner and Jack Nicholson were enthralled with Castro after meeting him. Costner said it was “the experience of a lifetime,” and Nicholson called him “a genius.”
Glover and Belafonte were in Havana in December 2002 for the 24th edition of the International Festival of New Latin American Film, one of the principal tools of Castro’s propaganda machine and a constant lure for Hollywood celebrities.
During that visit, Belafonte told the Cuban newspaper Granma the Bush administration is maintaining a policy “that doesn’t identify with the interests of the U.S. people.”
He added that the Sept. 11 events “that sowed fear in their hearts” served the administration “to extend its imperialist, economic and political domination all over the planet.”
Glover said: “My position on the war is very clear, above all for the impact that it will have on women and children in Iraq who are already suffering the consequences of sanctions.”