Words matter. These are the best Mike Nichols Quotes, and they’re great for sharing with your friends.
It’s very weird about movies: you never know which ones are going to stay alive and which one are going to be meaningless. When you’re there, you couldn’t possibly predict it. Some things slowly die, and others slowly stay a while.
I’ve learned that many of the worst things lead to the best things, that no great thing is achieved without a couple of bad, bad things on the way to them, and that the bad things that happen to you bring, in some cases, the good things.
It’s the hardest thing on earth to like yourself, and then when you do, it’s a catastrophe. I mean, the people I know who like themselves – I don’t want to see them!
There’s nothing better than discovering, to your own astonishment, what you’re meant to do. It’s like falling in love.
The producers want us to sell, sell, sell. That’s my little joke. That’s what we do by day; by night, we’re artists.
The greatest thrill is that moment when a thousand people are sitting in the dark, looking at the same scene, and they are all apprehending something that has not been spoken. That’s the thrill of it, the miracle – that’s what holds us to movies forever. It’s what we wish we could do in real life.
The things that you saw earlier in your life generally have more power than the things you saw last week.
That seems to me the great American danger we’re all in, that we’ll bargain away the experience of being alive for the appearance of it.
The reason that most British actors are better than most American actors in the end is that they don’t make any money. At the very end of their lives, they get into a space movie and they make a lot of money, but until that happens, basically, they don’t have bank accounts. They live from day to day.
Fear of comedy is all so much about who you do it with.
‘Streetcar’ is no longer about the moment at all. There is no Blanche DuBois anywhere; south, north, east or west. We don’t have Blanche DuBois at the moment. But we have Willy Loman; everywhere we look we see Willy Loman. We are Willy Loman. We’re on Facebook; we need to be known; we’re selling all the time.
I’m anything but confident.
My father wasn’t too crazy about me. I loved him anyway. One of the things I regretted for a long time was that he died before he could see that he would be proud of me. I was actually more what he wished for than he thought.
A movie is like a person. Either you trust it or you don’t.
Nerves provide me with energy… It’s when I don’t have them, when I feel at ease, that’s when I get worried.
Here’s the most mysterious thing to me. I look back at those first plays I did and the first movies I did, and I only have one question, which is, ‘What was I so confident about? Where did I get that?
Whether something is a success or not has never had much to do with what you do next.
I used to say that winning the Oscar means being back at the Beverly Hills Hotel at 1 A.M. feeling empty. It’s the industry voting. It doesn’t come from God. It doesn’t change your life, really.
The whole point about laughter is it’s like mercury: you can’t catch it, you can’t catch what motivates it – that’s why it’s funny.
When we talk about reviews, what we are really talking about is just a market report – it’s like reading about the new Lexus. You have to know what the guy writing the review cares about to understand his take. Does he like sports cars, or does he like Bentleys?
There are absolutely almost perfect people who experience no guilt; they don’t know what it is. They simply do what they need to do – or want to do – next. They see nothing wrong with it. They feel no guilt. They express no guilt. And it’s not even certain what harm they do.
It’s not a film-maker’s job to explain his technique, but to tell his story the best way he can.
A great thing is happening on cable TV. You see characters change in stories over years, like in Tolstoy. That’s a whole, thrilling new form that I really enjoy. They are Tolstoy-an in their endless character development and narrative changes… a show like ‘Breaking Bad’ is astonishing.
American society to me and my brother was thrilling because, first of all, the food made noise. We were so excited about Rice Krispies and Coca-Cola. We had only silent food in our country, and we loved listening to our lunch and breakfast.
Chicago is not a very fashion-driven place. Nobody says, ‘Oh, you’ve got to come see these fabulous people!’ Nobody cares.
Oh my God, if I know anything, I know I’m gonna die! I never forget that. I know I’ll be forgotten in a minute, and that’s just fine with me.
There’s nothing in the American dream about character. It’s a serious flaw.
I’m in the theater because of two plays: ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ and ‘Death of a Salesman.’
It took me forever, learning improvisation, because I had studied with Lee Strasberg – I dropped out of Chicago and went to his classes in New York for a couple of years, once or twice a week. What I didn’t realize was I was learning directing because he wasn’t all that good about acting, not for me.
I keep coming back to it, over and over – adultery and cheating. It’s the most interesting problem in the theater. How else do you get Oedipus? That’s the first cheating in the theater.
My first memory in the world is my gym teacher ripping my mother’s necklace off her neck and throwing it out the window and her running downstairs to go after it. I have no memory before that. I was 4. My father had a lot of girlfriends and my mother had a lot of boyfriends.
Clay Aiken is amazing beyond that glorious voice. Turns out he is an excellent comic actor and a master of character.
Limitations are inspiring: they lead to thinking, so I don’t mind them.
The reason you do this stuff – comedy, plays, movies – is to be seized by something, to disappear in the service of an idea.
Very often when a story really holds us, it gets pushed away because it’s too close for comfort.
The degree to which you’re peculiar and different is the degree to which you must learn to hear people thinking. Just in self-defense you have to learn, where is their kindness? Where is their danger? Where is their generosity?
All movies are pure process. A commercial movie isn’t less process than an art movie. You can’t make your decisions about a film on the basis of, ‘Is it important enough? Is it serious enough?’ It’s either alive or it’s not for me. If it’s alive, I want to do it.
I believed early and still believe that everybody who can act can do it already, just they don’t know how and don’t want to talk about it.
For a director, a musical is a special kind of hell.
Being with an insanely jealous person is like being in the room with a dead mammoth.
If you’re fleeing Nazi Germany in 1939 and you’re a Jew, you don’t think so much about relationships. People didn’t have a lot of divorces during the Holocaust, for instance.
I was standing right behind Marilyn, completely invisible, when she sang ‘Happy birthday, Mr. President.’ And indeed, the corny thing happened: Her dress split for my benefit, and there was Marilyn, and yes, indeed, she didn’t wear any underwear.
The only safe thing is to take a chance.
I loved all movies, literally. I certainly loved ‘Shane’ and ‘Roxie Hart.’ Later on, when I was less of a kid, I loved ‘L’Avventura’ and ‘Persona’ and all Fellini movies and like everybody else I loved John Ford. Then and now, I loved Preston Sturges, maybe above anyone.
The thing is, as a film director, you’re essentially alone: You have to tell a story primarily through pictures, and only you know the film you see in your head.
If you want to be a legend, God help you, it’s so easy. You just do one thing. You can be the master of suspense, say. But if you want to be as invisible as is practical, then it’s fun to do a lot of different things.
Things come in waves, and I’m always more interested in places like, for instance, Chicago, where people don’t follow fashion. They’re not galloping past your window on the way to the latest anything. They’re living their lives. You do a play, they come and see it and say, ‘That’s nice’, and then they go home.
I am drawn to the mystery of marriage. You can never know what the contract is between two people, and that is a very strong subject. I think it may be my subject.
I still think that luck is what a lot of the good things come from. It’s simply the luck of where you are, when.
Improvisation has to do with exploring something like two brothers in a room together. You find out things about situations by discovering the things that they aren’t saying. It’s a way to explore scenes. Sometimes it’s more useful than others, but it’s always there to see if there’s anything that you might improve.
I think that to make something alive, instead of on a page, is an honorable task. And it turns me on.
As a director, my job is, and always has been, divided into a number of things: dealing with the crew, the money and the studio, and the marketing and publicity. These are all different jobs that have to be learned and done as well as possible. The celebrity part rarely touches a director.
‘Catch-22’ was a nightmare to make, and everybody was unhappy except me.
We are being entertained all the time – in the bathroom, on the train, in our beds. Sure, there is a smaller audience for theater. But we know from radio that entertainment never goes away, it just changes. And more power to it.