Duvall, who plays Downey's father in the new drama, calls his costar "a unique man"
Credit: Rob Kim/Getty; Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

When Robert Duvall (“Bobby”) and Robert Downey Jr. (“Roberto”) get together, they share an easy rapport – especially when the subject turns to shooting their new film The Judge, which opens this Friday.

In the family drama, Duvall, 83, and Downey, 49, play an estranged father and son struggling to reconcile in the midst of a legal crisis.

The actors spoke with PEOPLE about the movie, costar Billy Bob Thornton‘s surprising talent and why a well-fed set is a happy set.

Robert Downey Jr.: My wife [Susan] produced the movie, and [David] Dobkin directed the movie. And then Bobby and I and the cast were really charged with creating an atmosphere of safety and feeling like you can take a risk. And the rest of the time, we were just figuring out where we were going to have dinner. Bobby has a very, very active social life.

Robert Duvall: You too! I had some of the best sushi I’ve ever had.

Downey: He was bringing brisket in.

Duvall: I had my contribution, but Downey here, he threw a party on a boat at the end with fireworks.

Downey: There was a lot of laughter. And then by the time Billy Bob showed up, I would say, ‘I know we need to roll, but can you just do your Burt Reynolds impression one more time?’

Duvall: Billy Bob does Lee Marvin. He has some great impressions. And Billy Bob never heard of a whitefish spread, so he took all of it from craft service and hoarded it in his dressing room.

Downey: We were having a pretty damn good time And there’s an intelligence, obviously, historically with Mr. Duvall’s work. We said for [my character] Hank, the judge has to be this mountain that seems impossible to climb. Bobby, is this the first time you’ve played a mountain?

Duvall: I was going to say, you talkin’ about me?

Downey: I’ve found this on both sides. It’s always daunting until you meet the human being. You know, Bobby, you’re a very witty guy, but you’re also a very straightforward guy. And I just appreciate that. There is literally not an ounce of B.S.

Duvall: I don’t know about that. Maybe there’s an ounce and a half! But I try to minimize it. Robert is a unique man, and wonderfully talented, so when somebody calls you with a terrific script, you really look at it hard. I always say, the beginning and the end of it, is talking and listening.

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