ON ACTING AND DIRECTING

Ben Kingsley on takes and retakes

I think you can learn to say something with one gesture instead of nine. I told a director once, “On take one I give you something, on take two if I am really doing my job I give you less, on take three even less than in take two.” I don’t mean in terms of generosity, I mean in terms of fiddling around as an actor. I bet with you that take three is the best take, because all the energy is going into fiddling around, but if you can dare tobe still – which is quite hard – you can be more focused. I think you can learn stillness like with certain painters and composers – and I wouldn’t elevate myself to that level – but occasionally I think actors become artists for a few seconds. A painter is doing something with one brushstroke that is brilliant but if he would add something he is lost. Or one note in a symphony, it is just astonishing, but if you had more notes next to it, it’s lost. It is that economy that we can learn.

Anthony Hopkins on special talents

You have to be careful of that because when you begin to believe you have license because you are a special person breathing special oxygen, that’s when you’re in big trouble. That’s the road to insanity. And a lot of people in the studios are like that. They believe that they are special. I do think actors are blessed, or cursed, with maybe a slightly heightened awareness, which you have to use. That’s all. It doesn’t mean you’re superior or better than anyone it just means that’s the way our brains tick.

Francis Ford Coppola on film making

I’m 80 years old now, and little by little over your lifetime you begin to understand things that you didn’t understand earlier. And one of the things I understand is — well, many things in truth — but the fact that I chose to always work in different genres was a good thing. That has always been my ambition during my career, especially when I was younger. Having burst into the scene with a gangster film like The Godfather, I was very reluctant to do another gangster film or anything like that because I wanted to attempt something totally different so I could learn from it.
So I went from the classic formalism of The Godfather, in which, as you know, the camera rarely moves, it’s built block by block, to a film like Apocalypse Now, which has a totally different style, it’s constantly moving. It was a risky type of film.

Jodie Foster on fear

Lately, I’ve really understood in a really personal way how fear is the core emotion that creates every choice for us.

My mom has dementia and to watch as she shed part of her socialization… What we got back down to was this core of fear…. I grew up in a single parent home house so my mom is a huge part of my life, the most significant relationship in my life that will ever be.

I look at a film like Little Man Tate, which is the first film I directed and is a movie about a mother and a son, and that is a specific relationship. I would say that one of the aspects of a mother and son relationship that is so interesting to me is how romantic it is.

There is something about raising somebody who will become one of the most powerful people in the universe. That’s what I thought Little Man Tate was about: raising a herald for the next generation, a prodigy, somebody who is the new messenger for the next generation. And when you raise a prodigy you are raising the man who was born of your female pain and your separation of yourself. He is an outcrop of that, you know? You’re raising them from infancy, and that awe in front of this child that you are raising in their differentness, and how different they are… It articulates itself through a certain kind of romanticism, and a kind of love that feels like partner love. And that’s a weird thing to say — except in these types of movies you see where that comes out.

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