The minute that you’re not learning I believe you’re dead.
No issue is more compelling than the air we breathe, be it hot or cold, be it hawk or human.
I would never complain about my life, even though I really would like to have a mate.
When they say I’m a great actor, I close my ears because it’s not good for you to think that way.
If you think you’re attractive, you’re always attractive.
My only emotion is gratitude, literally, for my life,
When you look at life retrospectively you rarely regret anything that you did, but you might regret things that you didn’t do.
When we make mistakes they call it evil. When God makes mistakes they call it Nature!
The only way to break a bad habit was to replace it with a better habit.
I think of a man and I take away reason and accountability.
My motto is: more good times.
Take caution in your tone, commander. I’m a fair man, but this — heat is making me absolutely crazy.
I envy people of faith. I’m incapable of believing in anything supernatural.
It’s very easy to go down, so always live up. Incline yourself upward.
Human beings are always going to find interesting ways of making a mess of their lives. It’s human nature.
Always try in interviews to avoid the cliches about the problems of public life.
Before I moved into the mainstream of American movies, I wrote a script as an experiment. I wanted to get very far away from the clichés about the three-act play – structure, development.
Frankly, I got into the movies because I like the movies a lot.
We learn how to kiss, or to drink, talk to our buddies-all the things that you can’t really teach in social studies or history-we all learn them at the movies.
A star on a movie set is like a time bomb. That bomb has got to be defused so people can approach it without fear.
I don’t want to direct a movie as good as Antonioni, or Kubrick, or Polanski, or whoever. I want it to be my own. I think I’ve got the seed of it and, what’s more, that I can make movies that are different and informed by my taste.
Once you’ve been really ‘bad’ in a movie, there’s a certain kind of fearlessness you develop.
I believe in making all movies at their most reasonable. That I get a lot of money as an actor is because nobody else will get it if I don’t.
I think that’s what distinguishes Schmidt, really. In the movies now, so much of what is appealing to an audience is the dramatic or has to do with science fiction, and Schmidt is simply human. There’s no melodrama; there’s no device, It’s just about a human being.
When I am cast in a movie where I feel that the woman’s part is more interesting, I usually start thinking about Spencer Tracy and Fred Astaire. They seem to be the most clear actors when working with women.
There’s a period just before you start a movie when you start thinking, I don’t know what in the world I’m going to do. It’s free-floating anxiety. In my case, though, this is over by lunch the first day of shooting.
That’s what I like about the movie business: you’re always in contact with wonderful and interesting people.
It’s the post-literate generation that is most disturbing to a movie-maker. The explosions and the knifings. People like to go to what’s hot and you can’t get past a certain gross unless you involve children who go more than once.
It is the cancer of film. It’s why people can’t be educated to film. In the late ’60s, we expected to see a movie or two every week and be stimulated, excited and inspired. And we did. Every week after week. Antonioni, Goddard, Truffaut – this endless list of people. And then comes television and home video. I know how to work exactly for the big screen, but it doesn’t matter what I think about the art of movie-making versus TV.
The first role I ever played I had the lead and it’s pretty much stayed that way, though people take great relish in calling me a character actor, which I am. There are a lot of short parts I could play, but I only do them when they are central to the idea of the movie.
There are short parts that I as an actor am very right for. Or I just like the part. Or you need someone like me for the movie. By that I don’t mean at the box office, I mean in the execution of the material.
As a means of supporting experiential element in film, once I begin to work on a particular movie I consider myself to be the tool of the director.
I’m in the movie business; it’s meant to be very cutthroat. But you won’t find anybody that ever says I cheated them or manipulated them.
You have to do every movie one at a time. Trilogy is contrary to this ideology. My nightmare is to wake up and find myself the host of a TV series.
You can’t say, “I’m gonna make a hit movie.” You’re as dead as you could be.
The way I reacted to 9/11 was I decided I didn’t want to do any movies that are sad or critical. I decided I didn’t want to make my living depressing people or making them go home sick, so I just decided I wanted to do comedy for a while and study it for a while. It doesn’t mean everybody should do that, but that was my reaction.
There has long been a bemoaning of the lack of opportunity to make films that are anything but explosions or the ladling on the pea soup or whatever you want to call it. You can hardly make a movie where somebody isn’t a murderer or a rapist or, if it’s a “Fried Green Tomatoes” that isn’t some wistful thing on this, that or the other thing.
OK, the director makes the movie. But some movies can’t get made without someone like me in them.
Batman and Joker
You can call me Joker. And as you can see, I’m a lot happier.
I was particularly proud of my performance as the Joker. I considered it a piece of pop art.
I have given a name to my pain, and it is Batman.
I used to think that one of the great signs of security was the ability to just walk away.
We live, we die, and the wheels on the bus go round and round.
There’s no point dwelling on what might or could have been. You just have to go forward.
I’m not hard to get along with.
Do you think God knew what he was doing when he created woman?
I only take Viagra when I’m with more than one woman.
And this, incidentally, is my thumbnail sketch of American marriage: A woman sees a man; she likes him. Now she jumps on this thing and rides it to some kind of standstill. Then she changes it and trains it, and to the exact degree that she’s able to do this, she disrespects him.
It’s not like I’m starved for company – I have a few very good lady friends – but there’s only a certain amount of times a woman wants to see you and never go out for dinner.
I think it’s good if a man gives a woman some time to herself because I think we all need that and we can all benefit from that. It doesn’t imply a rejection of the other person, just a sense that because we do have our separate identities, sometimes you have to be less involved in another person’s life or need to have that other person be less involved in your life.
When it’s over for a woman, it’s over. You’re not getting an appeal.
Well, a younger woman is a type, but not necessarily a type for me. And what is a younger woman? I mean, I’m pretty old. Almost everyone is younger.
Men dominate because of physicality, and thus they have mercy where women do not.
Women — a mistake, or did He do it to us on purpose?
If men are honest, everything they do and everywhere they go is for a chance to see women.
I love working with women directors. They don’t mind making you cute.
There were points in my life where I felt oddly irresistible to women. I’m not in that state now and that makes me sad.
I can’t hit on women in public any more. I didn’t decide this; it just doesn’t feel right at my age.
I’m very fortunate in the sense that outside of cohabitating relationships and so forth, I’ve always got on just as well with women.
I don’t know if this is a true statistic, but I heard somewhere that there are three times as many single women over forty as single men. That’s what we got from the women’s movement. The chickens have come home to roost.
I love women who have a strong sense of themselves because I know I have a pretty good idea of what I want out of life and I like to be around other people who are also pretty secure. It just makes things easier.
Women are sort of like motorcycle gangs with me. They get really shy and polite. I don’t know why.
Everybody’s old enough for a beer, ain’t that right, Mule?
I’d give my goddamned soul for just a glass of beer.
Beer, it’s the best damn drink in the world.
Fun and Humor
People who speak in metaphors should shampoo my crotch.
There’s only two people in your life you should lie to… the police and your girlfriend.
A lot of people in the middle of their lives have a secret yearning for more romance.
With my sunglasses on, I’m . Without them, I’m fat and 60.
Almost everybody’s happy to be a fool for love.
I have never lied to you, I have always told you some version of the truth.
Success & Failure
Many actors will try something different once, but if it isn’t a box office success they’ll never do it again. In my opinion, there’s no point in going on with this job if you do the same thing over and over again.
There are many directors in the middle range who’ve made mostly successful pictures, and then there are a few great directors who’ve had some successes and some failures. I suppose my life would be smoother if I wasn’t almost totally enamored of the latter category.
I take responsibility for my successes as well as my failures. But when I look at my professional mistakes, I’m always left with the feeling that maybe I should have done more.
I sort of understood that when I first started: that you shouldn’t repeat a success. Very often you’re going to, and maybe the first time you do, it works. And you love it. But then you’re trapped.
I never thought in terms of typing myself, because I wasn’t that successful. After an actor has done a few pieces of work, his naïveté is the part of the craft he has to nurture most.
Everybody said I was good, but being known and not having a big film success is almost tougher than being completely new. It just kind of turned my life around and was definitely a highlight.
I’ve always understood money; it’s not a big mystical thing to me.
I am in an age group where it is rude to discuss money, and now it is all anyone cares about.
We are going as fast as we can as soon as we can. We’re in a race against time, until we run out of money.
You can follow the action, which gets you good pictures. You can follow your instincts, which will probably get you in trouble. Or, you can follow the money, which nine times out of ten will get you closer to the truth.
Financially, I’ve lost money and made money, but I know my way around financially.
I know I can act. There aren’t too many other jobs I know how to do. Financially, I’ve lost money and made money, but I know my way around financially. I’ve been too many places. I’m like the bad penny.
I’m Irish. I think about death all the time.
I’m content with the fact that I made a decent effort. That’s what I’ve always worried about: that I wouldn’t try hard enough.
I’m not a power person. I like everyone to be on an equal footing.
I don’t think many people have a very good understanding of leisure and the importance it plays in our lives.
There is one thing I know about creative conflict: once my argument is exhausted, I am not going to be unhappy whether it moves in my direction or away.
I want my kids to have a deep, inner feeling that it’s alright to be happy, that you don’t have to be constantly manufacturing problems that you don’t really have.
I love discourse. I’m dying to have my mind changed. I’m probably the only liberal who read Treason, by Ann Coulter. I want to know, you understand? I like listening to everybody. This to me is the elixir of life.
I always knew there wasn’t going to be anybody to help me and emotionally support me, that whatever I did I’d have to do on my own.
If it is difficult to know yourself as an individual, it seems to be more complex as a couple. So if you say, “Oh I like a person who is like this and that,” you might take away the possibility of seeing the only one that might be right for you.
I don’t want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me.
I’m certainly not as tough as people think. I’m not a fighter and so forth. I’d just as soon go home.
I eat breakfast 300 yards from 4000 Cubans, who are trained to kill me, so don’t think for one second that you can come down here, flash your badge and make me nervous.
I don’t have any plugs or tucks but people do what they want. I look at it as mutilation.
I didn’t know that my sister was really my mother until I was thirty-seven years old. But life has taught me that there have been a lot of things that I didn’t know.
I would never want to vilify somebody who considered abortion murder. I was an illegitimate child myself. I may not have existed today.
I’m very contra my constituency in terms of abortion because I’m positively against it. I don’t have the right to any other view. My only emotion is gratitude, literally, for my life.
I usually don’t get too bogged down with my personal problems because that’s a one-way street if you get yourself into a negative frame of mind and only see the dark side of life.
I’ve always had an urge to feed my need to have fun and feel free. I don’t see any interesting alternatives.
I have to keep myself in check when I go to the kids’ sports events. I sit waaay in the back. I make sure I don’t do too much cheering, you know what I mean? I’m still not quite adjusted to this modern school of thought: Oh, it doesn’t matter who wins. I’m not all the way there yet, but I accept it from the back row.
I respect the social graces enormously. How to pass the food. Don’t yell from one room to another. Don’t go through a closed door without a knock. Open the doors for the ladies. All these millions of simple household behaviors make for a better life. We can’t live in constant rebellion against our parents – it’s just silly. I’m very well mannered. It’s not an abstract thing. It’s a shared language of expectations.
I think the Greeks invented sports as an antidote to philosophy.
I want a big 25-foot pink statue that holds my grave. Or I also might like the way the Indians did it. They hang you up on the top of a tree and the birds eat you. No, really I would probably choose cremating.
I thought of myself as part of the general filmmaking effort. And as my scope broadened, I began to think about directing. I wanted to be the guy who got to say whether the dress is red or blue.
I began to think that the finest modern writer was the screen actor. This was in the spirit of the Fifties where a very antiliterary literature was emerging – Kenneth Patchen and others. I kind of believed what Nietzsche said, that nothing not written in your blood is worth reading; it’s just more pollution of the airwaves.
I’ve never been able to say I’ve been influenced by a list of artists I like because I like thousands and thousands and I’ve been influenced in some way by all of them.
I’ve spent more time playing golf than anything else the last 18 years. Just wanted to be an 80s-shooter. Got there, too.
If I were an Arab-American, I would insist on being profiled. This is not the time for civil rights. There are larger issues for Americans.
I don’t even own a cell phone.
I’ve never lost a friend over work. I come from a small-town environment and I remember my childhood impressions that, if you were a conniver or a fink or whatever, everybody knew about it and you were a louse for the rest of your life. So I never lost those values in some way.
I love the company of people. I always have and always will, it comes with my family. But earlier in life I might have got a little nervous if I was alone for a day or two in a row. I might think, “Where are they?” Now, I just go on doing naturally what I do.
Comedy is much harder, it’s a lot more exacting. You can’t just be real and you can’t just use the same kind of techniques you use to fill up a regular scene.
I know I can act. There aren’t too many other jobs I know how to do
Acting is everybody’s favorite second job.
I assume most of the characters I play are exactly like me.
I feel very lucky because I don’t think there’s any part I can’t play. There are parts that scare me more than others…
Just let the wardrobe do the acting.
Once I got started acting I loved it.