Inspirational Quotes from James Gray

Apocalypse Now’ does not alienate us or deconstruct itself. In fact, it welcomes us in.

James Gray

It’s weird, because American films in the 1930s and ’40s, particularly melodramas, were made for woman, from Bette Davis to Joan Crawford to Barbara Stanwyck to Katherine Hepburn, and for some reason we’ve taken a step backward in this sense.

James Gray

My grandparents, they came through Ellis Island in 1923, and you know, I’d heard all the stories.

James Gray

My wife and I had been to the genetic counselor; my wife is not Jewish – she’s the shiksha goddess type – and was negative for everything. But I was positive. I carried the gene for three genetic disorders, which, if she had been positive for, we would have passed down to the child.

James Gray

At a certain point, you have to kind of realize that greatness is a messy thing.

James Gray

Melodrama is one of the most stunning art forms. These are stories where the emotions are big, and the situations are big, and the artists believe in the situation dramatically. There’s no irony or distance.

James Gray

The state of being in love is so inherently preposterous. It usually lends itself to romantic comedy. I think we’ve all been there.

James Gray

If you read about the astronauts who went to the moon – the 12 who walked on it, and the others who orbited – all suffered serious mental trauma of one kind or another.

James Gray

Most people don’t watch a movie four or five times; they watch it once.

James Gray

What a director really does is set the emotional temperature and the mood and the level, amount, or lack of, distance between the action and the character, and the character and the audience.

James Gray

The conventional wisdom is that people come to the United States, and immigration is so great, and they say, ‘America, what a great country.’ And a lot of that is true.

James Gray

My wife thinks I have an obsession with social class. So I guess I have an obsession with social class. It probably stems from feeling like an outcast.

James Gray

Unfortunately for critics and audiences alike, I have made several films, and some films with really terrific actors. And I say this at my own peril, but Marion Cotillard is the best actor I’ve ever worked with.

James Gray

I think true economic class unhappiness comes from when across the street someone has a new Cadillac and you can’t get that.

James Gray

I’m just not willing to give up on myself. If I’m going to fail, then I want to fail to the limits of my talent.

James Gray

I think I’m a very American director, but I probably should have been making movies somewhere around 1976. I never left the mainstream of American movies; the American mainstream left me.

James Gray

I continually marvel at people who can make films that reach five hundred million people. How do you do that? Everybody’s different – I don’t know how that works.

James Gray

I know this sounds phony, but I don’t start out on a project going, ‘I’m going to make an emotional work,’ you know what I mean? You try to tell the story directly and honestly and with passion.

James Gray

I went to see ‘Star Trek Into Darkness,’ and J.J. Abrams, who’s a friend of mine, made this film, and I went to see it at the premiere. Believe it or not, I was really blown away by the comic timing of it.

James Gray

The idea that the family is this locus of support but can also hold you back and keep you down makes for good drama.

James Gray

There’s never really been a tradition of making films about Jewish themes or using Judaism as a constant.

James Gray

I suppose I’m always trying to break down the wall between my characters and myself. I’m trying to make the film as expressive and personal as I can, even if I can’t explain, for example, how important it is for me to be Jewish.

James Gray

The key to humor is often self-loathing or sarcasm. In a sense, that’s how self-loathing is made palatable.

James Gray

The closer you can get to being personal, the better the work is, or the more interesting the work is.

James Gray

It’s hard to run away from who you are, and when your taste is formed is a very important thing.

James Gray

I’m telling you, every film I’ve ever made has been hated by the U.K. critics.

James Gray

I’m telling you, every film I’ve ever made has been hated by the U.K. critics.

James Gray

William Atherton has a very different acting style to Bonnie Bedelia; she has a very different style than Bruce Willis.

James Gray

The first movie, I was 23; I thought I knew everything, but my ego soon took an irrevocable blow.

James Gray

What I do have to get across is the truth of the moment within the given scene. It’s my job, as a director and screenwriter, to create the environment in which all those moments will come together eventually.

James Gray

The actor always must be in the scene, not above the scene. To communicate any larger ideas is my problem; it’s how the narrative is constructed and directed that hopefully does it.

James Gray

Really, what I’m doing is an attempt to continue the best work of the people I adore: Francis Coppola and Scorsese and Robert Altman and Stanley Kubrick and those amazing directors whose work I grew up with and loved.

James Gray

I start with a mood or an idea that comes from a personal place emotionally, and the narrative concepts come much later.

James Gray

If everybody lives in the same way, there’s something almost narcotizing about it, but the true misery of economic class difference is knowing that you can’t have what somebody else does.

James Gray

My grandparents used to tell me stories about their trip to Ellis Island from Russia and life on the Lower East Side of New York.

James Gray

At least in America, the narrative is I’m a Cannes favorite. But, in fact, I’ve had my best experience in Venice, both with the audience and the jury.

James Gray

The word ‘operatic’ is often misused to mean over the top, where someone is over-emoting. And that does a terrible disservice because ‘operatic’ to me means a commitment and a belief to the emotion of the moment that is sincere.

James Gray

I feel like it’s a real shame that my generation doesn’t make an appearance at the opera.

James Gray

Melodrama and melodramatic are not the same thing, and often people make the mistake of confusing the two.

James Gray

I remember as a little kid, I would always feel comfortable if the light in the crack of my parents’ door was on at night. When it went off, that meant they were asleep. Then that terror and the fear of being by myself started to creep in.

James Gray

For me, I get a part of an idea here and a little bit of an idea there, and then finally it accumulates into a movie.

James Gray

I am an Ashkenazi Jew, and there are a whole host of genetic disorders that only Ashkenazi Jews have. I don’t know if you know this, but 16 or 17 disorders that we carry the gene for.

James Gray

I had written ‘Two Lovers’ before we started shooting ‘We Own the Night.’

James Gray

There’s virtually nothing made up in ‘The Immigrant.’ So much of the film came from somewhere in my family’s past. All the details are from my own family.

James Gray

I feel that The American Dream is this fallacy that you come to the United States and win lotto. That’s a disservice to The American Dream because the American Dream is worth striving for. And it’s not easy.

James Gray

The ending shot of ‘Queen Christina’ with Greta Garbo is amazing. She’s at the head of the ship, and she’s been through so much, and the camera gets so close to her face. That really sticks out for me.

James Gray

The life of a film is very strange. Once the film is done, you wish you could forget about it and move on.

James Gray

When I was quite young, I dreamed of being a painter.

James Gray

I began to see cinema as the perfect combination of so many wonderful art forms – painting, photography, music, dance, theater.

James Gray

When I was younger, I felt it essential to see every movie ever made. Now I feel as though I’ve got to read every book, see every art show, watch every play and opera and concert and so on. It does not end, and of course there is truth in the old cliche that the more one knows, the more one realizes one knows nothing at all.

James Gray

I have no interest whatsoever in pursuing acting or becoming a mogul. I love writing and directing; I see those two jobs as the most critical in the making of a film.

James Gray

I grew up in a semi-attached row house in Queens in New York. And my family and my grandparents and my father’s from Brooklyn, and so you’re essentially an outer boroughs kid, you’re growing up.

James Gray