John Cassavetes quotes and sayings
December 9, 1929
February 3, 1989
I think people are very stiff. Money makes people stiff, and we want it, and we have to pay the penalty. I never agreed with stiffness. I think people have an understanding of what their life is. I define success by being a realist and not humiliating people. I'm a revolutionary - but not in the political sense.
I've never seen an exploding helicopter. I've never seen anybody go and blow somebody's head off. So why should I make films about them? But I have seen people destroy themselves in the smallest way, I've seen people withdraw, I've seen people hide behind political ideas, behind dope, behind the sexual revolution, behind fascism, behind hypocrisy, and I've myself done all these things. So I can understand them. What we are saying is so gentle. It's gentleness. We have problems, terrible problems, but our problems are human problems.
I have the confidence that I can take anybody and have them give a good performance, because I don't think there's anything to acting except expressing, being able to converse. So if I can just convince somebody not to clean themselves up, and not to be someone that they're not, and just be what they are in given circumstances, that's all that acting is to me, and I don't think it's very difficult.
I hate entertainment.
The camera is the slave to the actor.
I won't make shorthand films, because I don't want to manipulate audiences into assuming quick, manufactured truths.
The most difficult thing in the world is to reveal yourself, to express what you have to. As an artist, I feel that we must try many things - but above all we must dare to fail. You must be willing to risk everything to really express it all.
My parents allowed their two sons to be individuals. My family was a wild and wonderful place, with lots of friends and neighbors visiting and talking loud and eating loud and nobody telling the children to be quiet or putting them down.
The idea of love as a mysterious, undiscovered world has come to have no place in our innermost imagination.
My films are expressive of a culture that has had the possibility of attaining material fulfillment while at the same time finding itself unable to accomplish the simple business of conducting human lives. We have been sold a bill of goods as a substitute for life. What is needed is reassurance in human emotions; a re-evaluation of our emotional capacities.
During the actual filming, I'm not really listening to dialogue. I'm watching to see if the actors are communicating something and expressing something. I'm just watching a conversation. You're not aware of exactly what people are saying. You are aware of what they are INTENDING and what kind of feeling is going on in that scene.
I'm a great believer in spontaneity because I think planning is the most destructive thing in the world.
As an artist, I feel that we must try many things - but above all we must dare to fail...Say what you are. Not what you would like to be. Not what you have to be. Just say what you are. And what you are is good enough.
The greatest location in the world is the human face.
I don't care about being on top, about being No. 1. I just make movies for a few suckers in the audience, anyway.
You can fail in films because you don't have the talent, or you have too much humility, or you lack ferociousness. I'm a gangster. If I want something, I'll grab it.
There's a difference between ad-libbing and improvising. And there's a difference between not knowing what to do and just saying something. Or making choices as an actor. As a writer also, as a person who's making a film, as a cameraman, everything is a choice. And it seems to me I don't really have to direct anyone or write down that somebody's getting drunk; all I have to do is say that there's a bottle there and put a bottle there and then they're going to get drunk.
Most people don't know what they want or feel. And for everyone, myself included, It's very difficult to say what you mean when what you mean is painful. The most difficult thing in the world is to reveal yourself, to express what you have to... As an artist, I feel that we must try many things - but above all, we must dare to fail. You must have the courage to be bad - to be willing to risk everything to really express it all.
I like to act in films, I like to shoot 'em, I like to direct 'em, I like to be around 'em. I like the feel of it and it's something I respect. It doesn't make any difference whether it's a crappy film or a good film. Anyone who can make a film, I already love. But I feel sorry if they don't put any thought in it because then they missed the boat.
My mother and father were never frightened of anything. They always felt that they should go through life happily and without fear, and they did that. And it was a great boon to my brother and myself.
To me there is a name for each person. I think it's marvelous to have a name. A woman is not a woman. It's either Gena or my mother or some other person.
People who are making films today are too concerned with mechanics - technical things instead of feeling.
We only have two hours to change people's lives.
You know as a director what you want, but the film is smarter than you, the film says no, the film says there's something more here.
Filmmaking is exploring. Why would I want to make a film about something I already understand?
Commercial movies have no feeling, no sensitivity. Most people tell me people won't understand films with feeling. But everyone can feel.
By the age of 50, I would like to know that I'm not dead - that there's some continuity to my life.
Films today show only a dream world and have lost touch with the way people really are... In this country, people die at 21. They die emotionally at 21, maybe younger... My responsibility as an artist is to help people get past 21... The films are a roadmap through emotional and intellectual terrain that provides a solution on how to save pain.
I won't call my work entertainment. It's exploring. It's asking questions of people, constantly. 'How much do you feel? How much do you know? Are you aware of this? Can you cope with this?' A good movie will ask you questions you don't already know the answers to. Why would I want to make a film about something I already understand?
We have problems, terrible problems, but our problems are human problems.
I would put my pictures up against anybody's in this world. Certainly in my own day I bow to no one. I don't think there's another director in the world who works harder to make better films than I do.
You must be willing to risk everything to really express it all.
I have a one-track mind. That's all that I'm interested in - love. And the lack of it. When it stops.
No matter how old you get, if you can keep the desire to be creative, you're keeping the man-child alive.
An artist can accomplish anything provided he doesn't accept facts or defeat for more than a few minutes.
is an extension of life. How you're capable of performing in your life, that's how you're capable of performing on screen.
People don't know what they are doing most of the time. They don't know what they want. It's only in 'the movies' that they know what their problems are and have game plans to deal with them.
There is no reason why a serious film, one about life, can't be enjoyable, maybe even fun. Emotions can be very entertaining, you know. I try to use them generously in my films.
I'm very worried about the depiction of women on the screen. It's gotten worse than ever and it's related to their being either high- or low-class concubines, and the only question is when or where they will go to bed, with whom, and how many. There's nothing to do with the dreams of women, or of woman as the dream, nothing to do with the quirky part of her, the wonder of her.
Ricardo Montalban is to improvisational acting what Mount Rushmore is to animation.
'Faces' became more than a film. It became a way of life, a film against the authorities and the powers that prevent people from expressing themselves the way they want to, something that can't be done in America, that can't be done without money.
I think I'm probably one of the worst directors around, but I do have an interest in my fellow man.
Everyone who makes a film is at the major distributors' mercy.
We don't take the time to be vulnerable with each other.
Julie Anne Peters
Roy Jones Jr.
Robert W. Service
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