Sidney Lumet: interview

0

Comments

Add +

Over six decades and 45 films including ’12 Angry Men‘, ’Serpico‘, ’Network‘, 'The Verdict' and now 'Before The Devil Knows You‘re Dead', director Sidney Lumet, 83, has extracted some of the great performances in American film

What was special to you about the script for ‘Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead’?

The emotional outpouring that had to take place from the actors – the movie is pitched so highly. It’s wonderfully acted.

Is there a scene that you’re particularly proud of?

There’s a scene where Philip Seymour Hoffman breaks down: that went into an area I wouldn’t have dared hope for. It has to be extremely painful for him, because there’s a tremendous amount of self-revelation going on.

Do you let your actors ad-lib or do you prefer to stick to the script?

It depends if it’s good or not. Even among the brilliant improvisers, there’s always a limit to what the departure can produce. Often the result is a lot of self-indulgence.

Did that apply when you worked with Brando on ‘The Fugitive Kind’?

Brando was completely faithful to the text. He didn’t depart for an instant. He had an enormous respect for Tennessee Williams and what he could create.

Do you ever wish you’d done more acting yourself?

No. How’s that for a fast answer? And I have nothing more to say about it. Just no.

Please?

You know, it’s very painful acting. Because you’re exposing yourself all the time. And something in my own psyche just found that not a great deal of happiness was coming from it.

Do you think great acting comes from exposing your soul?

Always. Always. It’s for real. And you’re putting what’s deeply private up there for everybody to see. That’s what makes it painful.

Was that true of Al Pacino in ‘Dog Day Afternoon’ and ‘Serpico’?

Ah, totally… Stripped himself down. And not only that, in those days he had to stay in the state that the scene demanded that day. In other words, if it was a scene in which he was losing control, he had to stay out of control for the whole day. That had to be agony for him.

Which current actors would you love to work with?

Oh God, there’s gotta be 20 I could name. De Niro, Streep… I wanna work with Angelina Jolie. Oh, she’s a terrific actress I think. We’re very fortunate, because most of our stars are very good actors.

So why don’t great actors always get great roles?

Very often, if they’re not doing interesting roles, it’s because they’re not picking them. Because they are out there. I mean, Bruce Willis is a terrifically talented man. And I think he’s doing dopey movies now. I wish he’d do something a little more in line with his talent.

So why doesn’t he?

I don’t know. I don’t know the man at all. For many years he did a television series and that, for sure, can wear you out. So maybe he’s just tired, I don’t know.

Where do you find the energy to keep making films?

Don’t ask me – I don’t know! I’m just so grateful that it’s there. When you talk to anybody who’s gotten a lot of work done in their lives, the word that they keep repeating over and over again is luck. That’s part of the answer.

Does it ever bother you that you’ve never won an Oscar for directing?

I… think… if anyone were ever bothered by that, they’d be such a horse’s ass. How much more can you ask for than the job itself, which is wonderful, which has terrific pay, which is wonderful, great health benefits from the union, which is wonderful? I mean – my God! – what more can one ask for?Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead’ opens on January 11.

Author: Jonathan Crocker



Users say

0 comments


Top Stories

Meet the dream team: a preview of ‘Les Misérables’

Meet the dream team: a preview of ‘Les Misérables’

Director Tom Hooper and his cast tell us how they turned the super-musical into movie blockbuster.

Oscar predictions

Oscar predictions

The Time Out film team weighs in on the nominees for the 2013 Academy Awards

January film highlights 2013

January film highlights 2013

Get ready for the big guns… Spielberg, Tarantino and Bigelow

October film highlights

October film highlights

Daniel Craig’s 007 comeback, a genius indie romcom and all the mysteries behind ‘The Shining’ unravelled.

The Time Out film debate 2012 highlights

The Time Out film debate 2012 highlights

The results of our study on the state of films and filmgoing in 2012.

Read 'Time Out film debate 2012 highlights'

Martin Freeman interview

Martin Freeman interview

'The Hobbit' actor tells us why he wouldn't have a pint with Bilbo Baggins.

Sam Mendes interview

Sam Mendes interview

Dave Calhoun speaks to the director of 'Skyfall' about the latest film in the Bond franchise.

Ang Lee interview

Ang Lee interview

The genre-hopping director tells us how he invented a new genre with 'Life of Pi'

Michael Haneke interview

Michael Haneke interview

The twice Palme d'Or-winning director discusses 'Amour'.

Read our interview with Michael Haneke

Thomas Vinterberg interview

Thomas Vinterberg interview

The Danish director talks about his powerful new drama 'The Hunt'.

Read our interview with Thomas Vinterberg'

Ten things the 'Twilight' movies did for us

Ten things the 'Twilight' movies did for us

Time Out looks back at the impact of the 'Twilight' saga.

Discover what 'Twilight' has done for us

On the set of 'Sightseers'

On the set of 'Sightseers'

Time Out heads to the Lake District to visit director Ben Wheatley on set.

Read about our visit to the 'Sightseers' set

Tim Burton interview

Tim Burton interview

The director talks about 'Frankenweenie', which he describes as 'the ultimate memory piece'.

Read our interview with Tim burton

The top ten Christmas films of 2012

The top ten Christmas films of 2012

Our pick of the best films showing over the festive period.

Read 'The top ten Christmas films of 2012'

What's your film guilty pleasure?

What's your film guilty pleasure?

Mean Girls? Dirty Dancing? Tell us your favourite film guilty pleasure.

Read 'Film guilty pleasures'

When teen stars turn serious

When teen stars turn serious

Ten young actors come of age on the silver screen.

Read 'When teen stars turn serious'

50 years of James Bond

50 years of James Bond

From Connery to Craig, we revisit all 22 Bond films.

Read '50 years of James Bond'

Paul Thomas Anderson interview

Paul Thomas Anderson interview

The director talks Scientology and working with Joaquin Phoenix.

Read the interview

Hilarious horror films

Hilarious horror films


Ten funny horror movies which went spectacularly off the rails.

Read 'Hilarious horror films'

Martin McDonagh interview

Martin McDonagh interview

The director talks psychopaths and theatre – 'my least favourite artform'.

Read the interview

Autumn horror films

Autumn horror films

We round-up the five best horror movies of Autumn 2012.

Read about this Autumn's best horror movies

On the set of Skyfall

On the set of Skyfall

Time Out visits Istanbul to see the latest Bond movie being made.

Read 'On the set of Skyfall'

Bond: then and now

Bond: then and now

Does Skyfall refresh or rehash the James Bond franchise?

Sally Potter interview

Sally Potter interview

The British director explains why 'Ginger and Rosa' is her most mainstream film yet.

Daniel Craig interview

Daniel Craig interview

'I’m almost as in demand as Brad Pitt’