|1||On Jade (1995), I had no idea what I was doing. I don't think anybody had any idea what they were doing. It was a Joe Eszterhas script. To me, none of it ever really made any sense. I didn't realize until the read-through that I was the bad guy in it. It was like a jumbled mess. And the movie came out a mess, too. It had great people on it, though. It had [William] Friedkin directing, it had Chazz Palminteri, who was nominated that year for an Academy Award, it had Linda Fiorentino, who had just come out with that famous movie she did [The Last Seduction (1994)], and it had David Caruso, who's a fucking brilliant actor when given the right material, and a very smart guy. So a great cast, great director... everything but a script.|
|2||(On The Victim (2011)) "It's kind of a kitschy movie, you know. We pushed the performances and the whole piece to that level where you are almost over the top and it's a lot of fun. It's just fun and it was really never meant to be taken real seriously and I think audiences are kind of getting that. If you don't like fuckin' and you don't like fightin', then you might as well leave."|
|3||(On Planet Terror (2007)) I said, "Why'd you cast me?" He said, "I wanted to cast you because there's a certain moment in that movie where all hell is breaking loose, and I wanted to see you coming through these hospital doors, to see you bang through these double doors, and I want the audience to stand up and cheer." This is while we're shooting. I'm like, "Oh, yeah? Really? Okay, we'll see about that. Whatever." Didn't give it a second thought.
Anyway, we're at the big screen downtown, a thousand people, and the movie starts, blah blah blah happens, Josh Brolin's doing his thing. All of a sudden, I come crashing through the front door with a shotgun in my hand... and fucking everybody goes crazy. Everybody stands up and cheers. Here comes the fucking cavalry, which I guess I represented. Which I guess he knew I represented. That's Robert. He knew that moment was going to happen if he cast me in that role, as opposed to somebody else, I think, because of all the stuff that I had done back in the '80s I guess was kind of heroic.|
|4||(On missing out on Avatar (2009)) I went in and I met Jim for that and I talked to him about it. He gave me the script, I came back in with my take on it, he got excited about me and took me down to show me what he had shown Fox to get the movie made. I could tell I really excited him, but he didn't cast me right away and he's kind of hard to get a hold of because he's so busy and so we would check in with Jon Landau kind of week by week and month by month as it progress and Jon Landau, the producer, would always say "Yeah, he's really interested."
Once he cast Sigourney, then he felt... I ended up hearing this though my son, because my son went to school with Jon Landau's son, he felt that there's too much of that Aliens connection and he didn't want the Hicks-Ripley thing to be a part of that movie, so once he signed on Sigourney then he went with Stephen Lang. I like Stephen a lot and I really think that he's been around for a long time and I was really happy that he got he role if I didn't get it.|
|5||(On The Magnificent Seven (1998)) "That was a lot of fun. I enjoyed that. I had a line producer on that television series, John Watson, who used to listen to me. The scripts would come out, I'd look at them, and I'd say, "Well, this doesn't make sense and that doesn't make sense," and he would actually get the writers to change things. John was kind of like a father figure to me on that show, because it's hard when writers write stuff that doesn't make sense, or things are being shot that don't make sense. And I could always run to John, and he would back me up, which was great."|
|6||(On The Usual Suspects (1995)) I read his script twenty years ago or whatever, I didn't understand it, I was confused by it - it's kind of a confusing story if you're not paying attention, and I'd probably had a few drinks, and thought, "I don't get this, man, I don't get it", and threw it to the side. It was a huge mistake. It would've given me a chance to meet Bryan Singer, and I still haven't met Bryan Singer, and I'm sorry that I haven't, and I'm sorry that I didn't understand it.
It didn't make any sense to me. Even when I watch the movie now you really have to stay on top of it to know what's going on. But they never offered me the role, they said would you like to come in and either audition, or read, or maybe just meet Bryan, and I said, "No man, I don't understand it," and of course, I didn't know Bryan Singer was going to be Bryan Singer. I thought it was just a guy with a confusing script!|
|7||I had this big speech to give that I'd been working on in my head for, like, the last two weeks. So Sean Connery's standing there, there's Nic Cage, who's just been nominated for an Academy Award for Drunk In Las Vegas or whatever it was. [Laughs.] And I come up to give this big speech, and... I just went blank. I'm standing there and I'm not saying anything, and suddenly 'Michael Bay' (Qv) starts screaming the dialogue to me from off-camera. So he screamed it to me, I'd say it, he'd scream more, I'd say it, he'd scream more... We finally finished it, and we only did one take, because it would've taken too long to set up again, but I just felt like a complete idiot. I mean, I froze, and I did it in front of everybody.|
|8||(On Val Kilmer) "Val's great. Val's somehow gotten a reputation for being difficult. I don't know why, actually, except for that he works very hard. To give you an example, Val and I went out the day before we shot that scene, and we choreographed that scene together. It was Val and I who decided that we weren't going to be walking 10 paces, turning, and shooting, like they've done in a million other movies. We thought, "Well, wouldn't it be fun if we did it kind of close, where we're just, like, 2 or 3 feet apart from each other?"
And we went out and rehearsed that, and we spent six or eight hours rehearsing it, kind of doing that thing where we'd walk around each other, sizing each other up, and then how I got shot and how I still continued to pull the trigger even though I had a bullet through the brain. All of that stuff, Val and I rehearsed the day before we shot, and that's the kind of actor that I know Val Kilmer is. I mean, he is passionate and he wants to get it right, and he is like me and like Jim Cameron and like a lot of people who are like, "I'm making a movie here. I'm going to do the best I can, and if you're not with me, then get out of the way."|
|9||(On Deadfall (1993)) I got a call because Val Kilmer and Joanne Whalley-Kilmer just fell out and they needed a replacement within like a week. So that was another one of those things where I got a call and flew into LA. Val saw the writing on the wall. It was a good script, too. It was written by Nick Vallelonga, who's a good friend of mine and has gone on to direct me in two or three movies. It was a good script, it was jut bizarre.
It's funny, because usually when people... When I try to think of the name of that movie, if you hadn't just said "Deadfall (1993)" or had you said, "What's the movie you did with Nic Cage and Charlie Sheen?" I always have this mental Freudian block and I can never remember the name of it. To be perfectly honest with you, I kind of have a bottom five of movies that I was in. That was one of them."|
|10||(On Deadfall (1993)) Nic at that point was just breaking. He was just leaving the set to go do Saturday Night Live (1975) because he had just won the Oscar. That was Nic Cage undirected, because his brother directed him and I think he just said "Nic, do whatever you want." I think Nic is best probably when he's got somebody that just holds him back a little bit.|
|11||(On Timebomb (1991)) I thought it was going to be a much better movie, and that guy, I don't think has gone on to direct very much of note. But this guy totally ruined it and he hasn't really done anything since.
Some directors, like Lewis Teague who did Navy Seals (1990), somehow they just keep failing upwards. Like The Jewel of the Nile (1985), which is one of the worst movies ever made, but somehow he gets work off it. It's like, "Okay, The Jewel of the Nile (1985). Well then, let him do Navy Seals (1990)." They're just kind of [examples] of people who really aren't that good at what they do, and slowly, but surely, just disappear.|
|12||(On Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)) "Jim called me, and he explained it to me: It was too long, he had to cut a couple things out, mine was one of the last things to go. But he had two other flashbacks in the movie, and basically what I did in the movie was the same thing I did in the first movie... I got paid a very handsome price for that one day of work. And I'd do anything for Jim. If he asked me to come over and wash his car today, I'd do it. And it's raining, too! But I'd do anything for Jim."|
|13||(On Timebomb (1991)) So I signed on to do this movie, and I remember exactly where I was sitting when I was told that they'd cast Patsy Kensit to play opposite me, and although Patsy was like, darling, she was sexy and fun, y'know, she was supposed to be a psychiatrist, and she was twenty! And I thought, that's strange casting!|
|14||I called my agent up and he called up Fox and said, "You can't use Michael's image." They said, "Okay, we'll get back to you." I got a call from David Fincher saying "Please, can we just... We'd really like to use your character." And first of all I was like "Fuck you for not putting me in the movie." I was pretty pissed off and "Fuck you for even calling me, so go fuck yourself." Now I wish I hadn't, because now he's... Now he's "David Fincher," but I was upset at the fact that I was not in the new movie.
What I said was "Fuck you for having that happen to my character." There was no way I would ever let that character have a monster come bursting out of his chest, so you can forget about that happening. Jim wasn't happy about that either, so they dropped that idea and then they came back and they said "We want to use your picture" and I said "Okay, you can use my picture. It's going to cost you and it's going to cost you a lot."
So they paid me a lot of money to use my picture in that movie. It was really probably the most disappointing moment in my career when I look at like "Jeez, I could have been a part of a franchise that went like four or five deep and made a lot of money and really had been able to..."|
|15||(On James Cameron) You'll do a take, and he'll walk up to you and say, "Michael that's exactly what I don't want", and you can either go, "Oh what a fucking bastard, oh he bruised my ego!", or you can say, "Well what the fuck do you want, Jim? Show me! If you were an actor, you could act it, but you can't! You have to show me what you want me to do! You wanna give me a line reading? Give me a line reading! Show me what you want, I'll do it!" And he's cool, y'know? He'll do it, but he's not real sensitive when it comes to actors and their trailers, and waiting for actors to come to the set, so he can get his shots off. I think that Jim, from what I understand, got a little bit more verbal after he was done with The Abyss (1989), because I didn't see anything.|
|16||(On The Terminator (1984)) I think people think about that movie as being this huge, huge hit, and it did well. It did, I think, $40 million at the box office. But to give you an idea of other movies that were out at the time, The Karate Kid (1984) made $90 million. So it wasn't that big of a hit at the time. It did okay, but it wasn't a juggernaut. And I wasn't flooded with offers by any stretch. I mean, I think the next movie I did was Aliens, which was two years later, so I definitely wasn't buried in big offers.|
|17||(On getting Aliens (1986)) I got called by Gale Hurd on the Friday night checking my passport was in order. I said yes, and I was shooting Monday morning. Which meant that I didn't have to do that three weeks of rehearsal period, before the movie started, where they did the round table reading, and they would take all the soldiers out and march them over and over again, and have all the dinners. I just jumped right in, I just did it from the word go, and so that was a relief to me, because any time anyone does an army movie, they take all the actors out and get some old worn out drill sergeant to put 'em through their paces, and I hate to do that. I really didn't want to do that.|
|18||(On turning down Near Dark (1987)) Kathryn called and offered me the role that Lance played. I read that script and I found it confusing, and I made a mistake, probably, by passing on it. I'm a very linear person - I've got to see beginning, middle and end, and if the scenes don't make sense to me, it's very hard for me to progress with them. I mean, I had real trouble with movies like Memento (2000) and Irreversible (2002), and the flashbacks, stuff like that.
Again, it was a mistake that I made, because I would've loved to have worked with Kathryn, because she went on to do the movie with Patrick Swayze and Keanu, and there was a call that was made to me about the Patrick Swayze role in that, also. That was a mistake, that I didn't do Near Dark (1987). I look at it, and I've seen it recently, and it's an interesting film from a first time filmmaker, and she's a brilliant filmmaker.|
|19||(On William Friedkin) He likes to challenge his actors, there's no doubt about that. He challenges you to the extent to where he can find a weakness in you and then he will plunge a knife in there and try to gut you as a person and as an actor. I think that it keeps you on your toes. In real life, like when you are not on the set, Billy is the nicest most articulate fun loving, poker-playing guy. He can talk about history and opera and fashion and women... He is just a lovely, interesting man to be around and I love Billy Freidkin. I love him to death, but you get him on a set and he turns into the devil.|
|20||(On Coach (1978)) Well... You know, I was very young, I was very enamored with Cathy Lee Crosby... [Laughs.] As I think she was with me. I haven't seen that movie in 20 or 30 years, but I think it was cute enough, I think it was fun enough, I don't think there was anything horrifically stupid about it. It was an exploitation movie. It used sex exploitation. But I think I had a character in there who was attractive, and I had a lot of fun making it, playing basketball and hanging out with Cathy Lee Crosby. It wasn't too bad for a 19-year-old kid from Arizona.|
|21||(On being cast in The Terminator (1984)) "I was auditioning for José Quintero for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in downtown LA and I auditioned all morning for him, didn't end up getting that role. That was a theater production. But when I went in and I read for Jim, I guess I kind of kept some of that southern accent; it stayed with me. So, Jim called my agents and said "We really like him a lot, but he's a little too regional for us." They were like "What are you talking about?" "Well, he's Southern." They were like "No, no he's from Nebraska." "Nebraska? He sounded Southern..." So, they brought me back to read again and I auditioned again for them and I got the role. I read with Rosanna (Arquette) once and... and I read with Linda and we got the roles."|
|22||(On The Fan (1981)) I was very excited, because it was Robert Stigwood, Lauren Bacall. I mean, it was huge, you know? Flying into New York and all that Stigwood press - I was more intimidated about being in such a big production than I was about working with Lauren Bacall or Garner. I had been working in television, and I thought I had the stuff, and Lauren Bacall certainly didn't intimidate me.|
|23||(On Logan's Run: Logan's Run (1977)) I was scared. I only had two lines, and they were the same line: "Runner headed toward Quadrant Four!" I haven't seen it in 35 years, but I remember doing it, sitting there and going over it and over it until they said, "Action!" And when they did, I said it the first time, and then my mind went blank. I was like, "Oh, my God, what's my other line?" And then I went, "Oh, right: 'Runner headed toward Quadrant Four!'" [Laughs.] So, yeah, I managed to get through those two lines, and that was my first time on film.|
|24||(On his role in Hill Street Blues (1981)) That was a great character for me. I loved that character because he was just such a total asshole. He was a racist, he was a misogynist, he didn't like women, he didn't like anybody, he was a loudmouth, he was crude... What was cool about him was that I got to work with Betty Thomas and Ed Marinaro, and when I was standing between the two of them, I looked like a shrimp. I mean, I'm 6 feet tall, but Ed's gotta be 6-foot-2 or 6-foot-3, and Betty's gotta be 6-foot-1 or 6-foot-2, so I looked like Robert Conrad, like any minute I was gonna say, "Knock this battery off my shoulder!" I looked like the little guy, who was always feisty and yelling and stuff, and I had a great time doing that character. It's one of my favourite characters, in fact. I loved him.|
|25||Well, I'm certainly not a tough guy. I like to think of myself as a good father. And somebody who enjoys his works,somebody who's like...passionate.... passionate about his work. A little troubled, you know, I've had some problems in the past. I had a serious problem with alcohol for a number of years which I've overcome. But that was very difficult, ruined a couple of marriages and probably stunted my 'carrier' to a certain degree. But a human,you know. I'm just a human like everybody else. Flawed... but at the same time passionate about what I do.|
|26||(2012, on Navy Seals (1990)) That is a movie which... I was really disappointed with that movie, because we had the Navy behind us, we had a really, really good producer, Bernard Williams, we had a great crew and a great cast. We had Charlie [Sheen] and [Bill] Paxton and me and Joanne Whalley, Dennis Haysbert... just a great cast. We had a script that could've been worked on, could've been made a lot better, but they wanted to make this kind of silly movie about Charlie Sheen running and jumping on the back of a car, putting it in reverse, and driving it off a ramp. The director wanted to make... I don't know what he wanted to make. A comedy or something. I guess he considered it like an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. I wanted to do Top Gun (1986), and Paxton wanted to do Top Gun (1986). We wanted to make a really good movie, and it really turned out to be kind of a mish-mash and not a very good movie at all. So it's really kind of... yeah, it's probably the worst experience of my life, working on that movie.|
|27||[on refusing money to lend his body likeness for Alien³ (1992)] I was really stupid back then.|
|28||We had to take a hundred and thirty-five page script and shoot it in twelve weeks. Kurt Russell and Jim Jacks really saved the movie. I believe they did it by tearing scenes out. So Powers Boothe would lose a scene. I would lose a scene. Bill Paxton would lose a scene. Or two scenes. Or three scenes. Everybody's ego had to be messaged at that point. We were watching our characters disappear. Without Kurt's leadership, that movie would have folded at that point. I give Kurt Russell a lot of credit for managing everybody's egos. And making the right decisions on what needed to be cut and what didn't need to be cut.|
|29||The reason Tombstone (1993) was such a good movie is because it had a great script by Kevin Jarre. It had great characters. And it had great actors to play them. Kurt was great. I don't think Val has been better in any other movie. It's his greatest performance. You have Sam Elliott, you have Bill Paxton, you have Powers Boothe, you have Thomas Haden Church. You've got Jason Priestley and Billy Zane. Billy Bob Thornton and Frank Stallone. Everywhere you look, there is a new face that pops up. They are a celebrity, but they fit into this world. I think our film was the bubblegum version.|
|30||Ridley's (Ridley Scott) a guy that'll do something interesting and he's been making interesting, wonderful movies all his life. I mean when you go back and look at something like Blade Runner (1982), and from Blade Runner (1982) on he's just made great films.|
|31||I don't know why I never got round to watching The Terminator (1984) three or four... I actually saw a little bit of four in my hotel room once. I actually watched about 30 minutes of it and I just turned it off because I didn't know what was going on, bombs were blowing up all over the place, there was no dialogue, everybody was shooting everybody... I was like "Ah man, this is not for me.".|
|32||People think that 'It's the Alien sequel so it'll just be great' but they forget it was Ridley Scott and James Cameron, y'know? You just don't follow those guys. You really don't. You've really got to be good to follow those guys... And Fincher (David Fincher) ended up being a great filmmaker but his Aliens was not, I don't think, as good as the rest of them.|
|33||[on The Victim (2011)] I negotiated to have - within my budget - full authority to hire who I want, cast who I want, shoot where and how I want, and cut the film the way I want. I get to decide when to release the film, when to sell it and for how much. I have the James Cameron contract on the Roger Corman budget. [July 2012 interview]|
|34||Producers and directors seem to like me because I'm a pretty good story editor and I've got a pretty good BS meter and I'm pretty good at saying: "This doesn't make sense. Maybe we could do this?". I'm pretty good at not only pointing out problems in a script but having solutions for them, as well, and I've gotten good to the point I'm now directing myself. [February 2011 interview]|
|35||I always used to tell my agent I didn't want to be a movie star. I just wanted to be an actor and it kinda worked out that way. The problem was I didn't get paid as much and I didn't get the choice of scripts that I wanted. [February 2011 interview]|
|36||[when asked if he ever thought about doing cameos in the Terminator movie series] Well, I've thought about it but nobody else did.|
|37||[on Alien³ (1992)] I demanded there were no shots of Hicks' (his character from Aliens (1986)) dead body laying there with his chest burst open. After all the time and effort I put into it, I just thought that was not the way for Hicks to go out. I've never even seen it. But I don't think there's any doubt that the first two Alien (1979) movies are the great ones. They haven't dated. Hell, Aliens (1986) looks better than the Alien films that came after it.|
|38||I almost never get to play heroes like Corporal Hicks [from Aliens (1986)]. It must be the glint in my eyes. People think something wicked is going on. [August 1986 interview]|
|39||I try not to think of my art as a career, because the only time in my life I feel very good about standing on this earth is when I'm acting. That's why I do it: for those few moments when everything just feels so good. [August 1986 interview]|
|40||I want to be in the best movies I can be in, but if I can't be in the best movies, then I want to be the best I can be in whatever I am in.|
|41||[on Christian Bale's rant on the set of Terminator Salvation (2009)] I thought it was kinda sad. [...] I'll tell you what: he wouldn't talk to me like that.|
|42||I do firmly believe that I've been overlooked, especially in The Terminator (1984). Jim Cameron was saying to me at the time, "I don't know Michael why you are not being offered more movies now." All of us expected it, you know? But now, five or six years later, when everyone has seen the movie five or six times on video people are beginning to realize how good it was and what a good performance it was. But I have to say I don't feel shortchanged and I don't resent anything. I think it's best in the long run. Look at the Brat Pack: those guys got so much so fast that they were never allowed to really struggle and know what good chances they had in much of the work they were doing. So even though I felt that some of my work was overlooked at times I know that it has made me stronger and better and it has made me work harder to get other jobs and be good in them. [1989 interview]|
|43||A sense of insecurity, I think. It really comes down to not really having a full understanding of myself and my sense of self and having a real confidence in myself as a person. I seem to be able to have more confidence in some characters I play, knowing right down the line exactly the way that I feel about things about the character whereas in real life I'm more insecure. I don't really know the answers.|
|44||I know why they think of me as intense. It's because on the set, I'm very concentrated. I don't just walk on and do my thing and walk off. I'm very intense when I'm working. I know exactly what I'm doing before I get in there. [1990 interview]|
|45||I do a lot of research on most of my roles and before I start a role when I read a script I know all of the beats in the script and I know exactly how to do it because I've read about such a character or experienced similar things myself or had the same sort of relationship with people. So, when I go in to act it it's mostly technique. I'm not an actor who just lets things happen in front of the camera.|
|46||[on the chase scenes in The Terminator (1984)] Looking back on it, I realize we were really going at some high speeds those nights. One night, my adrenaline was running so high I actually tore the steering wheel off, and I just looked over at Linda [Hamilton] and said "Here, you drive!".|
|47||[on not spending much time with Arnold Schwarzenegger on The Terminator (1984)] I saw him around, you know. He was doing his thing, I was doing my thing, but I didn't really get to talk to him because Linda and I spend the entire film running away from Arnold.|
|48||I'd rather have a small part in a good film with good people than play the lead in something I don't really care for.|