"I have never had such close coaching from any other director, and many actors wouldn’t stand for it. Finally, on take 13: "Cut. Print. Good. Peter, come with me." So he took me off set and said to me, "Peter, I understand. You wish to show the world what a fine actor you are." He got that right. "When you work with other directors you give them your performance and they film it. Not with me, Peter. You see I have chosen you for how you look. I have chosen all your clothes. If I move my camera six inches, I would ask you to do that line in a different way." Upon this, he put his arms around me and held me close to him and said, "Peter, believe in me. Trust me. I am not God, but I am Michelangelo Antonioni."
"I get that same queasy, nervous, thrilling feeling every time I go to work. That’s never worn off since I was 12 years-old with my dad’s 8-millimeter movie camera. The thrill hasn’t changed at all. In fact, as I’ve gotten older, it’s actually increased, because now I appreciate the collaboration. When I was a kid, there was no collaboration, it’s you with a camera bossing your friends around. But as an adult, filmmaking is all about appreciating the talents of the people you surround yourself with and knowing you could never have made any of these films by yourself. My job was constantly to keep a movie family going."
"Over the years Contempt has grown increasingly, almost unbearably, moving to me. It’s a shattering portrait of a marriage going wrong, and it cuts very deep, especially during the lengthy and justifiably famous scene between Piccoli and Bardot in their apartment: even if you don’t know that Godard’s own marriage to Anna Karina was coming apart at the time, you can feel it in the action, the movement of the scenes, the interactions that stretch out so painfully but majestically, like a piece of tragic music. Contempt is also a lament for a kind of cinema that was disappearing at the time, embodied by Fritz Lang and the impossible adaptation of The Odyssey that he’s directing. And it is a profound cinematic encounter with eternity, in which both the lost marriage and the cinema seem to dissolve. It’s one of the most frightening great films ever made.”
"I had never met a director in Egypt. I didn’t know anything about cinema. I could only guess. For example, to choose the rhythm between two scenes, I would place my hand on my heart and I would count the number of beats between a change of scenes. I don’t know if it taught me anything but it already demonstrated my interest in the problem."
"I usually just want them to be as authentic and natural as possible, but I’m often times giving them a scene that is nothing like they would have said it. Usually what’s written is a bit odd. It’s not my intention that it be odd. But what interests me as a writer is a sentence that’s got a surprise in the way it’s put together. And so usually I think they’re doing something that doesn’t feel perfectly natural to them, and then it’s combined with the visuals and the movements that I’m drawn to. … When I see the first dailies on any movie, I usually feel that I had no idea how this combination of ingredients was going to mix together, what it was going to produce."
"We separated for a while in the 80s, but we got back together and we wanted to age together – I think people feel the frustration of not being able to do that. I’m ageing alone because I had the pain of losing him and seeing him die. People have experienced that and they know that it can hurt you – but also that life brings you to love life."
"I think that it’s important to understand, intuitively understand, what you are doing. But when you are doing it you must follow instinct. There has to be a certain level of risk, creating images, characters, emotions, it involves something a little brutal. You must be prepared to go in areas where you lose control."