Alexander Payne Quotes

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Quotations by Alexander Payne.

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While accepting his Director of the Year award for Sideways (2004) at the Palm Spring Film Festival: "I thank you for this award, though I think there may be a problem with a world in which making small, human and humorous films is `an achievement.` It should be the norm".

(talking about Reese Witherspoon): "She has such intelligence and humor, so it was a joyous leap of faith. Working with her, I kept thinking of Holly Hunter, she is an actress who is equally at home in character roles and in leads and in comedy and in drama. Reese has that kind of range, as an actress and as a human being."

Hollywood films have become a cesspool of formula and it`s up to us to try to change it... I feel like a preacher! But it`s really true. I feel personally responsible for the future of American cinema. Me personally.

I think that Peter Jennings is the only decent one of the big three.

You just never know when you`re living in a golden age.

A pitfall of making a comedy with a studio-and it`s also an American cultural thing-is that I get tired of being encouraged to go always for laughs.

That`s how I like to do it with actors, have them really go for it and I`ll tell them when it`s too much. It`s always easier to bring it back then to push it further.

I think a badly crafted, great idea for a new film with a ton of spelling mistakes is just 100 times better than a well-crafted stale script.

When studios entrust big Hollywood blockbusters to strong, intelligent directors, like Steven Soderbergh or Sam Raimi (Spider-Mans 1 and 2) or Alfonso CuarĂ³n (the latest Harry Potter), I say `God bless `em`, because those films will have legs and might stand the test of time. But if they rely on just product, like two examples from this year, Van Helsing (2004) and Catwoman (2004) - I`m glad they tanked.

We don`t have movies about ourselves, and we don`t have a national film culture. It shouldn`t be an epic aspiration to make simple human stories, but it is.

I want all of my films to belong to me. There is an audience out there for literate films - slower, more observant, more human films, and they deserve to be made. Which is why I want Sideways (2004) to succeed, to encourage other film-makers.

I mean, look, I love movies, not just the ones I make... In fact, I don`t like the movies I make very much.

They (the studios) go through that process where they think you have to find the most famous people possible and then they go down the line. That`s a game I`m increasingly uninterested in - unless the most famous possible person also happens to be very correct in the part, like Jack Nicholson. (on casting)

It`s my hope that we`re getting into an era where the value of a film is based on its proximity to real life rather than its distance from it. To do that, you need actors - stars, basically - who don`t necessarily look like Ben Affleck.

(about Reese Witherspoon on Election (1999)): "She inhabited that role fully, but she can do all these other roles. You see a woman in her, not a girl. She`s going to be interesting for a long time."

Where is it written that if you are not getting your money from a studio you have more freedom? If I had tried to make Sideways with independent funding I would have had to secure foreign presales and cast big stars in order to get my budget. This movie took a studio to say `We`re gambling on you. Cast whoever you want.`

But it`s just that the whole country is making generally lousy films these days and has been for quite a while. That`s the big problem that we all have to think about.


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Alexander Payne

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