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Working on an adaptation is not as satisfying, because it's not your original work: you're interpreting. With 'L.A. Confidential,' I loved the book. In that case, I felt I was guardian of the work, staying as true to the novel as I could. I've since met the novelist, and he loves the movie and the script.
I think 'Cool Hand Luke' was probably the first movie in which I was aware of the writing as its own separate thing. It was that speech when the guy reads Paul Newman the riot act. The speech about going in the box.
It's as boring to see a completely evil villain as it is to see a completely good guy.
It's such an egotistical thing to be able to just stand there and say, 'Action!' It's like being a little mini-god.
If you write an original, it's like you went in and dug a well, and you hit oil. But an adaptation, it's like the oil well's on fire, and they bring you in to put the fire out and get it working again - or something like that.
As much as I love period movies and especially more swashbuckling movies, I think that sometimes they tend to be, umm... it's hard for the audience to relate to them.
I don't really write with living actors in mind. I guess I write for dead actors. I'll think of like, you know, Burt Lancaster would be good in this part, and so on. With 'L.A. Confidential,' it was like, 'Wouldn't it be cool if Dean Martin played the Kevin Spacey part?'
You can write anything you want on paper, like blowing up the bridge on the River Kwai, but when you actually have to do that as a director, it's not the same. Ninety percent of directing is not creative - it's putting the theoretical into the practical world.
I was in a bookstore one afternoon, and I stumbled across this book called 'A Guide to Film Schools.' I always loved movies growing up and had never even conceived that it was something you could do for a living. Realizing most of them were in Los Angeles and knowing that was warm, I ended up applying.
I write R-rated action dramas, and every year that goes by, that gets to be a smaller and smaller world you have to work in. You have to think of how to get the studio excited and sell them something.
I always think any circumstances can be funny. Not that I'm irresponsible, but when things go wrong, I always come up with a joke or think of something funny to say.
I think when I start out writing, I always try to write the version of the movie that I want to go see. I don't mean it in a way that ignores the audience, but I really set out to make a movie that I want to see and that, hopefully, other people will want to go see it. So whatever's amusing to me, I guess, I throw it all in there.
The studio is spending great amounts of money, and they want some insurance they will get money back. They go for the middle of the road, broad in appeal. It's restrictive. It's a constant struggle, but if you give in, you're just making cottage cheese, and that's the end of it.
If I'm in the bookstore, and I see a 700-page novel, my first thought is, 'Ooh, how could you cut this down to size and make a movie out of it?'
Movie dialogue is movie dialogue. It can sound real, but no one speaks that way.
It's okay to lie as long as you reach a higher truth doing it.
There are plenty of writers who are going to become a director after their next job, but no one will believe you're a director unless you believe it.
I'm not like a Sears Catalog of ideas. I don't have that many ideas. I've more or less written them over the years. Usually, I come up with a situation or a character, and it rattles around in my head until the story or the plot emerges.
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Wherever you go, go with all your heart.
Robert A. Heinlein
H. L. Mencken
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