I’m not a big fan of the post-Armageddon stories, where Denzel Washington is walking around in a torn coat.
I attempt to create a form of seriocomic entertainment to either delight, enlighten, or disgust, whichever you’d like. In terms of making motion pictures, I write and direct and act. I guess you’d say I’m a filmmaker.
Bullfights are hugely popular because you can sit comfortably with a hot dog and possibly watch a man die. It won’t be me, but I can sit comfortably and watch it.
I come from the place where I am thinking ‘I have put my blood on the pages.’
I’d still like to see ‘Survivor’ minus the planned show-biz parts. That would be the purest form of show business – I want to see someone so hungry that they eat somebody else’s foot.
If we had 3 million exhibitionists and only one voyeur, nobody could make any money.
I’m not interesting enough on my own that you’d want to see a film about me.
It’s better to be known by six people for something you’re proud of than by 60 million for something you’re not.
When I die, if the word ‘thong’ appears in the first or second sentence of my obituary, I’ve screwed up.
I was in Kashmir last weekend. Went to visit one of my sweaters.
Even if you didn’t see the movie, you’d see two words you’d never seen put together before – comedy and Muslim. Comedy is friendly – it’s the least offensive word in our language.
When I went to acting school, the kids that got the best grades were the kids that could cry on cue. But it didn’t really translate into careers for any of them, because the external is the easy part.
I’ve been to many funerals of funny people, and they’re some of the funniest days you’ll ever have, because the emotions run high.
When I was younger, I wasn’t concentrating on good days. I was managing a career and trying to have a good year. It would always ‘lead’ to something, which never leads to anything except death, where everything leads to. And then as I got older, and then I had my kids and everything, I began to appreciate a great Wednesday.
I guess ‘The Player’ was a pretty good L.A. movie. And ‘Chinatown.’ Was there ever a better L.A. movie about a certain period in L.A.? That was terrific.
I never wanted to be a director.
I had a very wise person tell me that he thinks marriage, when you’re younger, you keep thinking you can fix things. That’s what people do. And you can’t really fix anything. It shouldn’t be a massive difficult thing every day. Life’s difficult enough.
You know, when cameras are rolling, improvisation doesn’t feel natural. The pressure is too great. You’re on a time schedule. You’ve got 60 crewmen.
Listen, there are some movies that are set in stone and the writer or the director does not want to change, but I’ve never worked on a movie, including my own, that didn’t take advantage of a rehearsal process.
If you look at the best-seller list for American fiction, they’re all sequels to detective stories or stories about hunting serial killers. That’s what’s called American fiction these days.
Twitter is the Devil’s playground.
It’s interesting when you’re part of a group – the Jews, to be exact – that the world has had such problems with.
Be generous and you can be the best person who ever lived.
I, sort of, got into comedy accidentally, and it got bigger than I wanted it to.
There’s always the standard six people you can hire that have played all these villains in Hollywood. Instinctively, when they come on screen, you know what’s going to happen. You don’t know the story, but you know what they do.
As an actor, if you’re just sitting and staring and you don’t know who you are in your own mind, it’s vacant. And sometimes the camera is an X-ray machine, it can pick it up.
I’ve always been in the middle of making my own movies, so taking acting jobs that take me away from that has been impossible.
I’m not Elvis. I don’t get chased by paparazzi.
I can’t not put humor in a book.
I don’t want to be the one to break it to you, but the future ain’t that funny.
I’ve always liked to think ahead. Not stupid-far ahead. A hundred years doesn’t interest me. But 20 years interests me, and more for what happens to humans as opposed to things.
You never do a movie and not want it to work. You accept whatever it is. You have to, but nobody in their right mind would not want the movie to be getting talked about at the end of the year.
I’ve done performances in movies that I was immensely proud of and the movies didn’t take off like a rocket at Cape Canaveral, it didn’t take off.
Most entertainment is trying to get you. It’s tested, like toothpaste.
I like movies about failing.
I take anything other than ‘you big pig!’ as a compliment.
If you’re going to act and do this for a living, you want to play something that the audience didn’t expect.
I’m a strong fellow.
‘Drive’ came to me because the casting director knew my manager and called and said, ‘You’ve always talked to me about Albert wanting to play the heavy. I think he should read this.’ My ears just perked up.
All improv turns into anger. All comedy improv basically turns into anger, because that’s all people know how to do when they’re improvising. If you notice shows that are improvising are generally people yelling at each other.
I don’t think the goal is, ‘How big a star did you ever become?’ I think the goal is, ‘Were you able to express yourself?’
If you paint, write, do mosaics, knit – if it’s solving that part of your brain saying, ‘I need to do this,’ you’ve won.
When I audition, I understand what it takes and the insecurities that come with it. If I do anything, I put actors at ease. I used to tell directors who weren’t actors, the best thing they could do was take an acting class for a couple of months. Just to understand.
How many people didn’t get a part who would have been better than the person who got the part? Thousands.
Movies are an expensive business.
By the way, movies are like sporting events in that you’re as good as the movie you’re in. You can sit in a room for 20 years and go do a movie and you can just kill in it and you move to the head of the line again. By the same token, you can do five movies a year and if they’re dreck, it’s nothing.
If I’m going to act in someone’s movie, I want the movie to be interesting and be able to get a couple of solid doubles.
Twitter, to me, works if you’re funny. Twitter doesn’t work as a promotional tool unless you do it very, very, very occasionally.
Once you sign on as an actor, you know, you don’t go to the editing room, you don’t see how they cut, you don’t see how they score, you don’t see how they cast the rest of the movie.
I think anger and laughter are very close to each other, when you think about it.
One of the things I like about a character: I always think it’s fascinating when a character can turn on a dime and go from one emotion to another. I like watching that.
I’m a member of the Academy, but I don’t know who all the other Academy members are. It’s not like a politician who knows who is in the Iowa caucus.
You know what it is, the reason so many 18-year-olds, 19-year-olds are saying ‘Drive’ is their favorite movie is that ‘Drive’ is a 90-minute trip into what a lot of seventies filmmaking was. It encapsulates the best of a certain kind of style, and a style that a lot of people haven’t seen before, with the music and the way it’s edited.
I just like making people laugh, and buried in that I like to bring up topics and start discussions.
What’s interesting about books that take place in the future, even twenty years in the future, is that many of them are black or white: It’s either a utopia or it’s misery. The real truth is that there’s going to be both things in any future, just like there is now.
In my screenplays – from the very beginning I’ve always used tape. I talk my screenplays. And then have somebody transcribe them.
Well, you know, with every character, if you’re going to expose yourself, you’ve got to figure out every detail that you’re going to play. So there’s no character that you can just go put on his shirt and be fully prepared.
You know, I became a director out of necessity. I was writing comedies, and I couldn’t find anybody to deliver it correctly.
I cast unusual people in my movies.
If you want to be a writer, just write. There’s no magic to it.
Nobody will leave any place unless they’re forced out. That’s the nature of humans. Once you’re there, you’re there. I’ve never seen anybody get up voluntarily and leave any place.
I’ve always been the king of silence. I’ve always been a minimalist comedian. I’ve taken my influence from Jack Benny, who was the king of that… I’ve always done ‘less is more.’
Even though my father was a radio comedian, it wasn’t cool to say, at a young age, ‘I want to be a comedian.’
My friend Harry Nilsson used to say the definition of an artist was someone who rode way ahead of the herd and was sort of the lookout. Now you don’t have to be that, to be an artist. You can be right smack-dab in the middle of the herd. If you are, you’ll be the richest.
My mom was a professional. My dad and mom met each other in a movie called ‘New Faces of 1937.’ My mom went under the name Thelma Leeds, and she did a few movies, and she was really a great singer, and when she married my dad and started to have a family, she sang at parties.
Steven Spielberg seems to have wanted to be a director from 13. He put his dog in a certain position and made him eat at four o’clock. He liked to direct it. But, to me, directing is tedious. Especially if you’re acting in it. And I’m inherently lazy.
Normally movies have the same people they use over and over for everything. It’s called typecasting. They don’t like to take chances. They’ll go with the guy they had before.
I made my living in comedy, but I’m not a silly person. I’ve got all these sides to me. Even in my movies that I’ve written myself, the characters sometimes border on great anger or nutsiness or other kinds of behavior. I’m not just doing fart jokes for two hours.
This getting old is something. I think I envy my dog, because my dog is sixteen, and she’s limping, and she’s still living, but she doesn’t look at me like she knows. She’s not thinking what I’m thinking. It’s a cruel trick that we all know the ending.
I don’t know how, where, and why the idea for ‘Defending Your Life’ began; the idea had been bouncing around for a while. Stories like that sort of have to bounce. They don’t come out of nowhere. I went through my own period of life with sort of everything turning upside down, and wondering, ‘Why is it this way?’
The idea behind ‘Defending Your Life’: Imagine if you had to sit in a courtroom and watch your life. I don’t care who you are – if you committed a crime and you had to have all of your emails searched and made public, who on this planet could survive that? Nobody.
‘2001’ is a really interesting movie because it came out in 1968, and everybody thought that that was possible, and look how ridiculous that was. We don’t have ships like that, and you know, nobody in 1968 was going, ‘Oh, that’ll never happen!’ But of course it never happened. We’re not even close to it.
I wrote this book, ‘2030,’ and I was careful in the book not to overdo the future because I don’t think it comes that fast.
My audience has lots of people between 20 and 35, but there are always a few 60-year-olds, and it makes me happier than if everyone was 22.
I’ve been doing comedy since I was two. You know, kids who make other kids laugh. The sickness had set in! I could make my friends’ parents laugh; I had a sense of what was silly and funny.
I studied acting at Carnegie Tech in Pittsburgh because I figured a good comedian certainly could act.
My roots were in acting. That’s all I wanted to be. Even though my father was a radio comedian, it wasn’t cool to say, at a young age, ‘I want to be a comedian.’
My dad played a character on the radio called ‘Parkyakarkus.’ A Greek-dialect comedian. He did Friars’ roasts and wrote material and made people laugh that way. But he wrote his own shows with other writers.
My dad died right after performing at the Friars’ roast for Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. I have that tape somewhere. There’s still a lot of good jokes in there. I mean, that was 1958.
I started on television. I had five years of network television before I ever got up on a stage. The first thing I ever did was in 1967. This guy Bill Keene had a little talk show at noon, and Gary Owens took over for a week. He knew about this dummy bit I used to do, this ventriloquist thing, and I was on ‘Keene at Noon.’
If people don’t love what you’re doing, that doesn’t mean you’re wrong.
I never liked going in the ocean.
If your last name is Christ, don’t name your son Jesus.
I like the acting. It’s how I started, and I sort of feel that if I don’t give it a little shot now, and I go back, then I’m pretty much done with it. I mean, at what age am I going to do it at? Although, when you see Christopher Plummer and Max von Sydow doing it, I guess the answer is 80.
The people on this planet that are trying to live their life, that aren’t trying to destroy things, are in the 99.9-percent majority.
When I started out, I tried out all my stuff on national television. There were no comedy clubs, but even if there were, I don’t think I would have gone to them. I used to do stuff in the bathroom, and then I’d drive down to NBC and do it on ‘The Golddiggers’ with Dean Martin.
I’ve heard people say, ‘There are no bad audiences,’ but that’s just not true. There are people who just shouldn’t be together in a room, who produce a really bad audience.
Wouldn’t it be great if cars came equipped with screens like that thing they have in Times Square that spells out the news? You could punch out your own instant messages: ‘Will the small red car with the ugly driver please stay a little further behind?’
You know what I’ve always wanted to do? I’ve always wanted to put a lung in a suitcase and send it through an airport security check. In effect, the guard would be looking at an X-ray of a lung.
My father was very sick around the time I was born. The doctors thought he wouldn’t live. He did recover, but I don’t remember him as very active. I do remember lots of schtick around the dinner table. Generally, he and my brothers and I were all laughing at the same thing my mother did not find funny, whatever that was.
I guess I was the class clown – with a name like Albert Einstein, you don’t hide in the back. I’d read the school bulletin to the class, and I’d add activities and make stuff up. It was good, a good 10 minutes every morning.
I did years of summer stock. I sort of only wanted to be an actor. And then at 19, I was funny, and I had some of these bits that I did for friends, and I immediately could get on television.
One thing about Los Angeles is it feels like it’s not new. It feels like it’s already been built, and it’s deteriorating, except for the places they’re trying to make nicer. But in general, you drive all through the city, and the city feels like it was new a long time ago.
There are a few giant companies that I love, and I love Amazon. Their customer service is impeccable: sometimes, just for the hell of it, I’ll sleep on a mattress for three years and return it.
It’s funny: in the middle of making ‘The Muse,’ I was offered, at the time, the first ‘Ice Age,’ the part that Ray Romano took: I was offered the elephant. And I couldn’t even stop to breathe, so I didn’t do it. They’ve made, like, six of them. And in the animation business, for a voice actor, that’s what you want. You want six, you know?
In the course of my movies, the financing and the releasing were always the tough part. Because I loved the creative; I loved the writing. I loved the making of it. Because, I guess, I never had the giant blockbuster, I never got that sort of ease for the next one.
‘Finding Nemo’ has spawned so many sort of emotions over the years. I don’t even know that you could really understand exactly what parents and kids are seeing in it, but they can see a lot of different stuff.
I’m really fond of ‘Real Life’ because I think it anticipated a whole movement. And people forget, they talk about ‘Spinal Tap,’ but that wasn’t… this was a mockumentary a long time before that. It was one of the early, early sort of mockumentaries.
I don’t know; I guess they’ll never make another ‘Nemo.’ I see they’re making another ‘Monsters, Inc.’ I had a wonderful idea for them. I swear to God, I think there could be a great sequel to ‘Nemo’ where the fish never will leave home. He just won’t leave. ‘Getting Rid of Nemo.’ Right, ‘You’re 30 years old! Get out of here!’
Basically, I still have the privacy that all celebrities crave, except for those celebrities who feel that privacy reflects some kind of failure on their part.
I think I present a different side of a male character: a side that is not John Wayne-like, a side that is, in fact, destructible. To some people, that is refreshing, and to other people, especially if they don’t know me, it may be disturbing.
I don’t see many explosions or ten-car crashes in the course of my life, so I don’t put them into my movies. I would love to live in a society where ‘My Dinner with Andre’ made $100,000,000. Then I would be in the mainstream. I could do that stuff easier than I could do ‘Meatballs.’
If you don’t succeed on your own ground, then there’s no reason to succeed. Unless, of course, you really want a boat. If you’re a person who feels that with a yacht, everything will be all right, then you should do whatever you have to and get the yacht.
I never, in anything I’ve ever done, tried to get you to like it. I was never going to succeed at that. That’s not the way most entertainment is made. Most entertainment is trying to get you. It’s tested, like toothpaste.
The first act is writing, the second act is filming, the third act is releasing. If you have to partake in the third act, it hurts the first act of the next one. It’s like a prizefight. You get punched.
My humor is traced with dark – I’ve got dark patches all over the place.
If I start a film of my own, then what I eliminate is acting in other people’s movies. Because once I start, and I go raise the money, it’s about two and a half or three years, and I can’t stop. I have people hired. I can’t say, ‘Ooh there’s a good part called ‘Drive’; I’ll see you in three months.’
I probably learned, being in ‘Taxi Driver’ before I made my first film, I would come to the set every day just to watch how that film came about. It’s like a graduate course: it’s terrific. You talk to the cinematographer during the breaks. You ask the electrician why they are doing this.
Even in my comedies, I don’t take anger as a joke. I think anger and laughter are very close to each other, when you think about it. One of the things I like about a character: I always think it’s fascinating when a character can turn on a dime and go from one emotion to another. I like watching that.
I was offered ‘Pretty Woman.’ I was offered ‘Big’ and ‘Dead Poets Society.’ But what was important to me in those years was to make movies, to make these Albert Brooks movies.
I don’t think the goal is, ‘How big a star did you ever become?’ I think the goal is, ‘Were you able to express yourself?’ And if you’re able to say yes, in any field, you’ve won. If you paint, write, do mosaics, knit – if it’s solving that part of your brain saying, ‘I need to do this,’ you’ve won.
I had done about 60 television shows, from ‘Ed Sullivan’ to ‘The Hollywood Palace,’ before I ever went to ‘Johnny Carson.’ At the time, that was the showcase for comics. And I couldn’t believe it.
This is a generalization, but I think women’s brains are more accessible to ideas and differences. And they can accept stuff that’s weirder. I think there are enough intelligent men out there who get it, but women will watch behavior that’s different and process it better. In general, women are less threatened by their emotions.
There’ve been a few mother-daughter movies that are somewhat realistic. But the mother-son movies are more comical than realistic: ‘Throw Momma from the Train,’ ‘Stop! or My Mom Will Shoot.’ You don’t sit in the dark and go, ‘Oh my God, that’s my mother.’
I like to do things that I want to see myself. With ‘Defending Your Life,’ I wanted to see some aspect of death other than angels and the thing that ‘Ghost’ was about, because that didn’t make any sense to me. So that’s the reason: it fills a hole.