Top 129 Sydney Pollack Quotes

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“Every story needs an element of suspense – or it’s lousy.”

― Sydney Pollack

“For reasons which I can’t logically explain, in all of the films I’ve done, I’ve ended up doing love stories of one kind or another, and it seems to me that love stories are extremely dependent on the obstacles you can place between the lovers. There is no love story without it.”

― Sydney Pollack

“Burt Lancaster was largely responsible for me becoming a director.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I really think that people never go wrong by telling the truth.”

― Sydney Pollack

“You can’t stop traffic on Times Square.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I’d get bored if I… if I had to do a movie, and there was no love story in it, I would just be bored. I mean, I would do it, but it would be kind of boring.”

― Sydney Pollack

“For example, a man who might not have enormous charisma, who could be president 40 years ago, and who was a deserving president, I don’t know that George Washington would be a president today, I don’t know that Abe Lincoln would, I don’t know that Roosevelt would.”

― Sydney Pollack

“If you have a career like mine, which is so identified with Hollywood, with big studios and stars, you wonder if maybe you shouldn’t go off and do what the world thinks of as more personal films with lesser-known people. But I think I’ve fooled everybody. I’ve made personal films all along. I just made them in another form.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I knew I wasn’t going to be any great shakes as an actor – the way I looked, I would play the soda jerk or the friend of a friend.”

― Sydney Pollack

“South Bend is a nice town, but you know that phrase – ‘I was homesick even when I was home.’”

― Sydney Pollack

“Even if it’s a thriller or a comedy, it’s always a love story for me, and that’s what I concentrate on, because the love stories are my surrogates for the argument: two people in conflict that see life differently.”

― Sydney Pollack

“Everybody’s trying to make blockbusters.”

― Sydney Pollack

“Well, I was born and raised in the Midwest, in Indiana specifically, and my childhood was full of weekend movies, you know, the Saturday and Sunday popcorn movies.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I didn’t grow up thinking of movies as film, or art, but as movies, something to do on a Saturday afternoon.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I didn’t believe that I’d ever be lucky enough to be able to make a living as an actor.”

― Sydney Pollack

“And I taught acting for years, and without knowing it that was the real thing that started bending me toward directing.”

― Sydney Pollack

“No, I never went to college. Always regretted it, always envied people who did.”

― Sydney Pollack

“Well, the wonderful thing about making movies, oddly enough, is that they’re sort of highly motivated graduate studies in one or another field.”

― Sydney Pollack

“Well, there’s no question that a good script is an absolutely essential, maybe the essential thing for a movie.”

― Sydney Pollack

“You don’t normally do another presentation of All About Eve. You do one All About Eve, and that’s it.”

― Sydney Pollack

“You know, essentially when you do a play you’re reinterpreting a work of art that already exists. That’s not what happens with a movie.”

― Sydney Pollack

“With a movie you’re creating from the beginning this particular work, let’s not call it work of art, because very few movies are works of art, let’s just call them bits of popular culture, whatever they are, sometimes very rarely by accident a movie becomes a work of art.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I mean, certainly it’s the single biggest event, I think, in terms of popular entertainment, or art even, if you say that, of the 20th Century. It’s been film. It’s the 20th Century’s real art form.”

― Sydney Pollack

“Every single art form is involved in film, in a way.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I mean, certainly writing, painting, photography, dance, architecture, there is an aspect of almost every art form that is useful and that merges into film in some way.”

― Sydney Pollack

“Film is a collective experience, as you know.”

― Sydney Pollack

“You are not an active creator of the film.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I mean, I don’t know anything else that I would try to do, but it’s a very frustrating thing to do, because you are trying to take what’s a fantasy in your head and make it live through the minds of 200 people.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I personally have never made a movie in Hollywood, because I don’t want to get up in my own bed and then go to the movie set, and then come home at night to my real life.”

― Sydney Pollack

“But, I’ve made films in Japan, in Yugoslavia, all over Europe, all over the United States, Mexico, but not Hollywood.”

― Sydney Pollack

“When you make a film you usually make a film about an idea.”

― Sydney Pollack

“We talked about Tootsie, the idea in Tootsie is that a man becomes a better man for having been a woman.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I mean, movies are like your kids or your fingers and toes or something, it’s pretty hard to pick favorites.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I mean, the truth of the matter is, I like the failures as much as I like the successes, it’s only the world that doesn’t like the failures.”

― Sydney Pollack

“The very reasons sometimes that you make a film are the reasons for its failure.”

― Sydney Pollack

“By that I mean, I think that it is true that politics and political heroes have to satisfy our need to be greater than mortal in some way, and that’s led them into creating illusions, sound bites, focus groups that tell you what to do.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I think it’s a terrible shame that politics has become show business.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I don’t know about liberal bias, but people of a liberal mentality are probably attracted in greater numbers to the arts than people of a conservative mentality.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I’ve produced my own films for twenty years now – it means I have to talk to less people.”

― Sydney Pollack

“If I want to make people moved or cry in a film, I figure out what the room looks like, what the people are wearing, what time of day it is, what the light is, how to photograph it, where to put the camera. It involves optics and costume design and set design and architecture.”

― Sydney Pollack

“It’s impossible for me to go into a room or look at a location without a part of my brain photographing it – picking the best angle or looking at the way the light hits.”

― Sydney Pollack

“The problem with filming something is that we struggle desperately to make three dimensions out of two dimensions. It can’t be done.”

― Sydney Pollack

“What makes architecture extraordinary is that you’re looking at the building, but your peripheral vision is also seeing how it fits within a space. And it’s seeing more than one part of the building at one time.”

― Sydney Pollack

“The terrible tragedy for every director is to watch an actor do what you want and not have the camera rolling – and never get it back again. So I always try to roll the camera before anybody’s really ready.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I’ve spent most of my life trying to make actors comfortable, which I think is 90 percent of getting a good performance.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I will not ever say that it’s good to start with too little preparation, because that’s patently not true. But I don’t rehearse the way a lot of directors do, to stage a scene in terms of manners and attitudes and lock them in.”

― Sydney Pollack

“When you rehearse a play, you spend four weeks with one goal in mind – to wean the actor away from you. You want the actor to become completely independent and to understand all the emotional and psychological moves within the character.”

― Sydney Pollack

“There will be people who are sensitive about seeing the American point of view presented as less than sympathetic.”

― Sydney Pollack

“Stars are like thoroughbreds. Yes, it’s a little more dangerous with them. They are more temperamental. You have to be careful because you can be thrown. But when they do what they do best – whatever it is that’s made them a star – it’s really exciting.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I don’t care much about acting.”

― Sydney Pollack

“You can’t trust your memory. You change it to suit yourself.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I remembered myself as an unpopular and rather sad kid.”

― Sydney Pollack

“It doesn’t matter what I’m doing – I wish it was something else. If I’m producing, I wish I was directing. If I’m directing, I wish I was doing almost anything else!”

― Sydney Pollack

“From almost the first time I stepped on a stage, I knew that was what I wanted to do.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I haven’t broken any new ground in the form of a film.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I am not a visual innovator.”

― Sydney Pollack

“My strength is with actors. I think I’m good at working with them to get the best performances, at seeing what it is that they have and that the story needs.”

― Sydney Pollack

“The essence to me of all good drama is argument.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I’m 47 years old, and I have to accept the fact that I’m probably not going to set the world on fire… If I was going to do that, I would have done it by now.”

― Sydney Pollack

“When you first start out, you want to be Fellini, or you want to be Bergman.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I’m not a writer myself, so I’m forced to try to get what’s a sort of an odour or a colour or something I feel in my head from a writer, and that’s a… I don’t have a recipe for that process. I don’t know what it is… it’s different every time.”

― Sydney Pollack

“We progress by leaps and bounds technologically, medically – we can live longer, we can… but you know, in the year 1230, they knew as much as we know now about the human heart.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I fly an aeroplane, and I think a lot about how much I do not want ever to run into an optimistic air traffic controller. I just don’t. I want a guy down there who’s just waiting for the worst crash possible and petrified that it’s going to happen on his watch. And then I feel safe flying into his territory.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I’m as much a victim of the romantic myth of ‘getting away’ as anyone else. My head tells me it’s myth, but I don’t want to believe it is.”

― Sydney Pollack

“There are very few Westerns that have ever made really giant money.”

― Sydney Pollack

“If you list the qualities that we consider feminine, they are patience, understanding, empathy, supportiveness, a desire to nurture. Our culture tells us those are feminine traits, but they’re really just human.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I am not a farceur. I am not Blake Edwards.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I do not have a good control of running sight gags. I laugh like hell when I see them, but I don’t know how to invent those jokes.”

― Sydney Pollack

“It would be a great vacation to act in a movie if I weren’t directing it. But to do it while you’re directing interferes with your concentration, and I wouldn’t do that again.”

― Sydney Pollack

“There’s nothing wrong with crooks having lawyers. Everyone is entitled to a lawyer.”

― Sydney Pollack

“No country could claim to be civilized if its legal system weren’t available to everyone in it.”

― Sydney Pollack

“It’s when the lawyers themselves become bad guys that you begin to have a serious problem.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I feel no terror when I’m acting. There’s no tension. It’s just a part.”

― Sydney Pollack

“Beginnings and endings are not interesting; audiences want the high point, which means you’ve got to get to it and get to it now – get the gun out fast, the clothes off quick.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I always go for the craft first because, to me, that’s like an oil well – you either hit the oil or you don’t.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I don’t know what the creative process is. I don’t know how to trick it into starting or how to egg it on.”

― Sydney Pollack

“By the time I’m done with a project, it’s taken so long that I usually don’t even like it anymore. I only see the things I wish I’d done differently.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I learned that creativity is all about being frustrated.”

― Sydney Pollack

“There isn’t a studio in the world that wouldn’t burn half its soundstages to get a Tom Cruise movie.”

― Sydney Pollack

“American movies are the most popular movies everywhere, and it is true that the quality is far from uniformly terrific.”

― Sydney Pollack

“It’s hard for me to fall in love with a piece of material enough to want to direct it.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I like thrillers a lot. There’s a lot of discipline connected to them. You can’t be as freewheeling as you are with character pieces.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I don’t particularly want to go to a film to make me think, though I want it to be about something.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I guess all my films are about resolving conflicts – and they’re all love stories. If they weren’t, I couldn’t make them.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I love having made a movie.”

― Sydney Pollack

“Even with ‘Three Days of the Condor,’ I wanted to do a thriller. But I was still concentrating on the Faye Dunaway-Robert Redford relationship in that film.”

― Sydney Pollack

“Each time I make a movie, it’s a little bit like taking another course in something because there’s an argument between these people that I don’t necessarily have an answer to.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I don’t have a style. I’ve never thought of myself as a stylist like the visual stylists I admire enormously – Adrian Lyne, Ridley Scott, Alan Parker – in which every shot has a great idea in them.”

― Sydney Pollack

“Every time I am directing, I question why in God’s name I’m doing it again. It’s like hitting yourself in the forehead with a hammer.”

― Sydney Pollack

“It’s a terrible mistake when it gets to be a contest of egos. The actor is always going to win. If a director gets into a control situation and is overbearing, it’s deadly.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I try not to get depressed about stuff I can’t do anything about.”

― Sydney Pollack

“Even in ‘Victor/Victoria,’ there was talk about what it means to be a woman, what it means to be a man. You didn’t get that in the old days, in ‘Charley’s Aunt’ or ‘Some Like It Hot.’”

― Sydney Pollack

“Before I saw ‘Tootsie’ with an audience, I thought, ‘No one is going to believe this could convince anyone he’s a woman.’”

― Sydney Pollack

“I do tend to wake up in the middle of the night convinced I’ve made a disaster.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I’ve always thought of Denys Finch Hatton as a combination of Hubbell Gardner from ‘The Way We Were’ and Jeremiah Johnson. He is this ultimate individualist.”

― Sydney Pollack

“Making a movie is a network of decisions that keep multiplying as you go. You leave a trail of decisions behind you, and that’s how you start to see the shape of what you’ve done. When you get far enough, you turn around and say, ‘Ha, that’s the movie.’ It’s only then that you find out if it’s going to work or not.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I am not a cult director at all. I make Hollywood movies.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I hate to say it as a pejorative term, but I work for the Hollywood system for the most part.”

― Sydney Pollack

“It’s my job to motivate the audience to believe. I have to get them to suspend their judgment in favor of involvement.”

― Sydney Pollack

“Good actors aren’t enough. You need charisma. Can you imagine ‘Casablanca’ without Bogart and Bergman?”

― Sydney Pollack

“The marketing of anything is full of exploitation and lies and hype.”

― Sydney Pollack

“When I work, I think mainly in terms of dramatic choices.”

― Sydney Pollack

“If I’m lucky, in my wildest dreams I can make a picture every three years.”

― Sydney Pollack

“At every premiere, I stand in the back, I never sit, worrying. And then maybe I hear them laugh or whatever, and the muscles unclench a little. But always, I feel like it’s a fluke, that I’ll never be able to do it again.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I think a lot of creative people are uncomfortable with therapy. Because you’re basically trying to ‘solve’ the unconscious. And the unconscious is where it all comes from.”

― Sydney Pollack

“When you’re shooting a feature that costs $200,000 a day with a crew of 250, you don’t want accidents; you want to know exactly what’s going to happen. But with a documentary, you don’t, so you have to be sensitive to accidents because that is where the gold is.”

― Sydney Pollack

“There’s no money in documentaries.”

― Sydney Pollack

“Like a lot of New Yorkers, I assumed that I knew all about the U.N. I was shocked to find out it’s not like anything I had in mind. There are only six languages accepted there. It’s considered international territory.”

― Sydney Pollack

“In terms of level of difficulty, it would go comedy, thriller, and then romantic drama.”

― Sydney Pollack

“There aren’t rules in a romance, so they can be played any number of ways.”

― Sydney Pollack

“Depicting a terrorist act in a film isn’t going to incite terrorism.”

― Sydney Pollack

“Compliments aren’t really a journalistic angle.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I don’t get nervous talking about my films, but if I’m the subject, it’s hard.”

― Sydney Pollack

“This thing called chemistry, which I can’t define and wouldn’t know how to, either works or it doesn’t. Sometimes a love story can involve very talented actors, but we are not invested emotionally in whether they end up together.”

― Sydney Pollack

“You have to go by your instincts in casting.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I sort of straddle the line… between personal movies and mainstream Hollywood.”

― Sydney Pollack

“What’s overwhelmingly clear is ‘Havana’ didn’t work for people, but why it didn’t work I don’t feel I can put my finger on in a way I can learn from.”

― Sydney Pollack

“All the movies I’ve made are essentially character-driven movies about people that I’m interested in.”

― Sydney Pollack

“Kubrick and I were pretty good friends.”

― Sydney Pollack

“At some point during the filmmaking process, you lose objectivity, and you need the eyes of someone who understands the process and has been in the trenches.”

― Sydney Pollack

“You hope that the responsibility of making movies will fall into the hands of essentially moral people.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I do have a responsibility, but I would make the most boring films in the world if I woke up every morning worrying about my social responsibility.”

― Sydney Pollack

“You’re fighting a losing battle if you expect the people who own the studios to make moral choices.”

― Sydney Pollack

“It was a different time in the 1970s. Movies didn’t have to make as much money.”

― Sydney Pollack

“Audiences want to feel something intense, quickly, without wasting a lot of time.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I’m not going to pretend to know one more thing than I know.”

― Sydney Pollack

“People sense when you’re pretending, when you’re worried about your own ego.”

― Sydney Pollack

“People ask me over and over how is it that I work with stars. How do you work with Barbra Streisand, with Paul Newman, with Al Pacino, with Sally Field, Jane Fonda, you work with all these people. Isn’t this a problem? And it isn’t a problem at all. It’s terrific. It’s great fun. And I don’t know what the answer is.”

― Sydney Pollack

“I learned everything, right or wrong, about honor and love, all those things, when I was a kid watching movies. I learned as much there as I did from my parents or my schooling or anything else.”

― Sydney Pollack
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