Best Quotes from Mike Nichols

There’s nothing better than discovering, to your own astonishment, what you’re meant to do. It’s like falling in love.

Mike Nichols

The thing is, as a film director, you’re essentially alone: You have to tell a story primarily through pictures, and only you know the film you see in your head.

Mike Nichols

The only safe thing is to take a chance.

Mike Nichols

Any good movie is filled with secrets.

Mike Nichols

I was standing right behind Marilyn, completely invisible, when she sang ‘Happy birthday, Mr. President.’ And indeed, the corny thing happened: Her dress split for my benefit, and there was Marilyn, and yes, indeed, she didn’t wear any underwear.

Mike Nichols

Streetcar’ is no longer about the moment at all. There is no Blanche DuBois anywhere; south, north, east or west. We don’t have Blanche DuBois at the moment. But we have Willy Loman; everywhere we look we see Willy Loman. We are Willy Loman. We’re on Facebook; we need to be known; we’re selling all the time.

Mike Nichols

It’s not a film-maker’s job to explain his technique, but to tell his story the best way he can.

Mike Nichols

The whole point about laughter is it’s like mercury: you can’t catch it, you can’t catch what motivates it – that’s why it’s funny.

Mike Nichols

All the theories that acting is reacting to imaginary circumstances as though they are real, and directing is turning psychology into behavior, those are all stabs at something that can’t be taught. All the great actors can’t talk about what they do, and they don’t want to begin to talk about it. They just do it.

Mike Nichols

Plays, especially great plays, yield their secrets over a long period of time. You can’t read it three times and say, ‘OK, I got it. I know what’s happening.’

Mike Nichols

If you want to be a legend, God help you, it’s so easy. You just do one thing. You can be the master of suspense, say. But if you want to be as invisible as is practical, then it’s fun to do a lot of different things.

Mike Nichols

There’s nothing in the American dream about character. It’s a serious flaw.

Mike Nichols

If you’re fleeing Nazi Germany in 1939 and you’re a Jew, you don’t think so much about relationships. People didn’t have a lot of divorces during the Holocaust, for instance.

Mike Nichols

I love to take actors to a place where they open a vein. That’s the job. The key is that I make it safe for them to open the vein.

Mike Nichols

American society to me and my brother was thrilling because, first of all, the food made noise. We were so excited about Rice Krispies and Coca-Cola. We had only silent food in our country, and we loved listening to our lunch and breakfast.

Mike Nichols

My first memory in the world is my gym teacher ripping my mother’s necklace off her neck and throwing it out the window and her running downstairs to go after it. I have no memory before that. I was 4. My father had a lot of girlfriends and my mother had a lot of boyfriends.

Mike Nichols

Most great plays of the past lose their grip on immediacy; on application to our lives right now.

Mike Nichols

The degree to which you’re peculiar and different is the degree to which you must learn to hear people thinking. Just in self-defense you have to learn, where is their kindness? Where is their danger? Where is their generosity?

Mike Nichols

The thing about being an outsider… is that it teaches you to hear what people are thinking because you’re constantly looking for the people who just don’t give a damn.

Mike Nichols

I’ve learned that many of the worst things lead to the best things, that no great thing is achieved without a couple of bad, bad things on the way to them, and that the bad things that happen to you bring, in some cases, the good things.

Mike Nichols

I had a high school girlfriend whose mother gave us theater tickets, so I saw the second night performance of ‘A Streetcar Named Desire.’ My girl and I could not get up during intermission, we were so stunned. To this day it’s the only thing I’ve seen on stage that’s 100 percent real and 100 percent poetic simultaneously.

Mike Nichols

There are absolutely almost perfect people who experience no guilt; they don’t know what it is. They simply do what they need to do – or want to do – next. They see nothing wrong with it. They feel no guilt. They express no guilt. And it’s not even certain what harm they do.

Mike Nichols

I never understand when people say, ‘Do you do comedy or tragedy?’ I don’t think they’re very much different. They both have to be true, and there isn’t a great play in the world that doesn’t have funny parts to it – as ‘Salesman’ does, as ‘King Lear’ does. The whole idea is to reflect life in some way, which means surely you have to have both.

Mike Nichols

That seems to me the great American danger we’re all in, that we’ll bargain away the experience of being alive for the appearance of it.

Mike Nichols

Never let people see what you want, because they will not let you have it. Never let anybody see what you feel, because it gives them too much power. You’re probably better off not showing weakness whenever you can avoid it, because they’ll go for you.

Mike Nichols

Being with an insanely jealous person is like being in the room with a dead mammoth.

Mike Nichols

I think that to make something alive, instead of on a page, is an honorable task. And it turns me on.

Mike Nichols

You want to make money, remake ‘Cinderella.’ You want to move people, remake the Hippolytus and Phaedra myth.

Mike Nichols

Being with an insanely jealous person is like being in the room with a dead mammoth.

Mike Nichols

Nerves provide me with energy… It’s when I don’t have them, when I feel at ease, that’s when I get worried.

Mike Nichols

The producers want us to sell, sell, sell. That’s my little joke. That’s what we do by day; by night, we’re artists.

Mike Nichols

I asked a shrink: ‘Everything is so great. Why am I still so angry?’ He said, ‘Anger doesn’t go away.’ I always thought it was kind of a good engine.

Mike Nichols

It took me forever, learning improvisation, because I had studied with Lee Strasberg – I dropped out of Chicago and went to his classes in New York for a couple of years, once or twice a week. What I didn’t realize was I was learning directing because he wasn’t all that good about acting, not for me.

Mike Nichols

I believed early and still believe that everybody who can act can do it already, just they don’t know how and don’t want to talk about it.

Mike Nichols

I think the main thing about comedy and humor is that it’s impossible and always was impossible to define.

Mike Nichols

In a weird way, when I was looking back, I didn’t know I was going to be a director until I was.

Mike Nichols

If you lose a parent, it never goes away. As a kid, I dreamed about my father coming back for 15 or 20 years. I still do sometimes.

Mike Nichols

I loved all movies, literally. I certainly loved ‘Shane’ and ‘Roxie Hart.’ Later on, when I was less of a kid, I loved ‘L’Avventura’ and ‘Persona’ and all Fellini movies and like everybody else I loved John Ford. Then and now, I loved Preston Sturges, maybe above anyone.

Mike Nichols

Technically, maybe I learned most of all from George Stevens, and among his movies I learned the most from ‘A Place in the Sun.’ It’s a lesson in moviemaking.

Mike Nichols

Limitations are inspiring: they lead to thinking, so I don’t mind them.

Mike Nichols

Improvisation has to do with exploring something like two brothers in a room together. You find out things about situations by discovering the things that they aren’t saying. It’s a way to explore scenes. Sometimes it’s more useful than others, but it’s always there to see if there’s anything that you might improve.

Mike Nichols

Whether something is a success or not has never had much to do with what you do next.

Mike Nichols

A play, after all, is a mystery. There’s no narration. And as soon as there’s no narration, it’s open to interpretation. It must be interpreted. You don’t have a choice… Each play can become many things.

Mike Nichols

People, by and large, would rather be talking than listening.

Mike Nichols

Very often when a story really holds us, it gets pushed away because it’s too close for comfort.

Mike Nichols

It’s the hardest thing on earth to like yourself, and then when you do, it’s a catastrophe. I mean, the people I know who like themselves – I don’t want to see them!

Mike Nichols

I still think that luck is what a lot of the good things come from. It’s simply the luck of where you are, when.

Mike Nichols

Here’s the most mysterious thing to me. I look back at those first plays I did and the first movies I did, and I only have one question, which is, ‘What was I so confident about? Where did I get that?

Mike Nichols

I’m anything but confident.

Mike Nichols

Directing is mystifying. It’s a long, long, skid on an icy road, and you do the best you can trying to stay on the road… If you’re still here when you come out of the spin, it’s a relief. But you’ve got to have the terror if you’re going to do anything worthwhile.

Mike Nichols

Oh my God, if I know anything, I know I’m gonna die! I never forget that. I know I’ll be forgotten in a minute, and that’s just fine with me.

Mike Nichols

I am drawn to the mystery of marriage. You can never know what the contract is between two people, and that is a very strong subject. I think it may be my subject.

Mike Nichols