James Gray quotes:

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

  • I would love it if my films made a lot of money, and may I say that 'The Yards' is the only one that's lost money.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

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

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

  • 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.

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

  • As ugly an admission as this is, I met my wife at a party, and if I had been to the same party and she were dressed in different clothes, I might never have talked to her. She might have projected something that I found distasteful, even if she otherwise looked exactly the same - a beautiful woman to me.

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

  • The corporate system dictates what gets made, and the movies are so bad because of the economic structure of Hollywood. The big business takeover of Hollywood is at fault rather than American storytellers - it's what keeps textured movies from getting made.

  • 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.

  • Apocalypse Now' poses questions without any attempt to provide definitive answers, and the film's profound ambiguities are integral to its enduring magic.

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

  • 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.

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

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

  • I'm not a website guy, although I'm not a Luddite, either. I have looked at a computer, but I don't go to PopSugar and Goop and all that.

  • I don't think my parents told me enough how the world doesn't really care about me. I think it's important to tell children that the world doesn't really care about you. You have to fight to be heard.

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

  • There are very few movies in English about romantic obsession told with a seriousness of purpose.

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • I think to be a movie critic is troubling from one major respect. If you are forced to watch ten movies a week, it's really only something you can do for a few years. After a while, it's a bit too much.

  • 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.

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

  • Sean Penn has announced his retirement from acting about 72 times.

  • The sad truth for American actors is that they really have no control whatsoever over the material that they get, or can do, particularly actresses. And if you're over 40 and you're an actress, forget it.

  • The audience cares what the movie looks like, not about the sleepless night you had worrying about the thing getting developed.

  • I've been a Yankees fan for a long time. When I was a kid in the mid-'70s, the Yankees were really great. They had Reggie Jackson in '77. I was 8 years old at the time. He hit three home runs to win the World Series in game six against the Dodgers, and I was just hooked.

  • It's much easier to make a movie with kind of stylistic pyrotechnics because you can hide behind that if there's a gap in the story.

  • The films I grew up loving, and the art that I love, is not generally the kind of postmodern ironic winking stuff. What lasts is the stuff in which the artists are totally in league with the subject.

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

  • The system is not really particularly amenable to filmmakers who write and direct their own work. It's much more about the studio already having a property that has a marketable concept and then hiring the director on board.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

  • I live up Laurel Canyon, and if I want to walk with my son, I have to drive to the park, which is so insane to me.

  • I have three young children, and I kind of stopped going to movies in 2006. I go to see some, but I'm a little bit out of touch, and I didn't know who Marion Cotillard was.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • At Ellis Island, I mean, you didn't go there if you arrived in first class. It was only the poorest, the people in the worst shape.

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

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

  • Americans have always been excellent at making romantic comedies - but dramatically, we don't really try to do it.

  • Film is better than digital in every way. It has better contrast ratio, better blacks, and better color reproduction. It's a more organic image, which is more the way your eyes see.

  • To the extent that independent means you're willing to attempt to put your own ideas, personality, and commitment to the material on screen, then of course I hope I'm independent until the day I die.

  • If we continue as we have for the past 20 years in California, in the year 2020, everybody in the State will either be in prison or running one.

  • Life affirming doesn't mean good things happen.

  • You should just write the movie based on people you actually know and then just see who wants to play it. Cast the net.

  • Actors want to work with you but they want you to do their thing. Actors, whom I love with a blind partiality, sometimes they want to be soloists in the symphony, not a part of the orchestra.

  • Actors do want to work with me and I'm very grateful for that, but you never know. I could write parts for them that they don't want to play and then all of the sudden they don't want to work with you that much.