Gene Wilder Quotes

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Gene Wilder

Wilder in 1970
Born Jerome Silberman
(1933-06-11)June 11, 1933
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
Died August 29, 2016(2016-08-29) (aged 83)
Stamford, Connecticut, U.S.
Cause of death Complications of Alzheimer’s disease
Nationality American
Alma mater University of Iowa
Occupation Actor, screenwriter, director, author
Years active 1961–2003 (actor)
1998–2013 (author)
Spouse(s)

Mary Mercier
(m. 1960; div. 1965)

Mary Joan Schutz
(m. 1967; div. 1974)

Gilda Radner
(m. 1984; her death 1989)

Karen Boyer
(m. 1991; his death 2016)

Children 1
Relatives Jordan Walker-Pearlman (nephew)

I worked two days in Texas and two days in Hollywood on 'Bonnie and Clyde,' and that was it. I had no idea how it was going to turn out. And when I saw it, I was so upset, or fascinated, or something, by the sight of myself on the screen that I could hardly pay attention to the rest of the movie.
Gene Wilder
So my idea of neurotic is spending too much time trying to correct a wrong. When I feel that I'm doing that, then I snap out of it.
Gene Wilder
If there's an audience, I think they're going to expect me to be funny. But what if I'm not funny? What if I fail?
Gene Wilder
Whatever simplicity I've achieved in writing, I think I owe most of it to Jean Renoir and Hemingway: simple, declarative sentences. I've read some very good writers, but the sentences were so long that I've forgotten what the point was.
Gene Wilder
I had a daughter and lost her a long while ago. That's too sad a story to go into.
Gene Wilder
I never used to believe in fate. I used to think you make your own life, and then you call it fate.
Gene Wilder
And in 'Frisco Kid' and in 'The Woman in Red' I had to ride badly. Then you have to really ride well in order to ride badly.
Gene Wilder
I don't want to do 'Hamlet.' I don't want to do Robert Redford roles or Mel Gibson roles or Kevin Costner roles, because I'm not going to be good at them.
Gene Wilder
I'm an actor, not a clown.
I'm stopped by mothers who say, 'Mr. Wilder, what advice would you give to my young boy? He's really talented.'
Gene Wilder
I've become pretty philosophical about a lot of things, including death. It doesn't get to me.
Gene Wilder
I'm in complete remission. I'm alive and well.
I write funny. If I can make my wife laugh, I know I'm on the right track. But yes, I don't like to get Maudlin. And I have a tendency towards it.
Gene Wilder
I wanted to do – there was this film called 'Magic' that Anthony Hopkins did. And the director wanted me. The writer wanted me. Joe Levine said no, I don't want any comedians in this.
Gene Wilder
I trust if your life is right, the right things will happen at the right time. If the chords are in harmony inside, I think other things will happen in the same way. That sounded highfalutin' to me once, but I believe it now.
Gene Wilder
I feel very Jewish, and I feel very grateful to be Jewish. But I don't believe in God or anything to do with the Jewish religion.
Gene Wilder
The world is not based on fairness. Human beings can rise to fairness, can administer something that makes it fair or just. But that's not God.
Gene Wilder
My favorite author is Anton Chekhov, not so much for the plays but for his short stories, and I think he was really my tutor.
Gene Wilder
When your mother gives you confidence about anything that you do, you carry that confidence with you.
Gene Wilder
I'd like to do a comedy with Emma Thompson. I admire her as an actress so much. I love her. And I didn't know it until recently that her whole career started in comedy.
Gene Wilder
I'm not so funny. Gilda was funny. I'm funny on camera sometimes. In life, once in a while. Once in a while. But she was funny. She spent more time worrying about being liked than anything else.
Gene Wilder
I live in a small town in Connecticut, and they don't write scripts there, but I get them anyway because my agent is in Los Angeles.
Gene Wilder
I'm going to tell you what my religion is. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Period. Terminato. Finito.
Gene Wilder
My wife and I water color, paint water colors.
If something comes along that's really good, and I think I would be good for it, I'd be happy to do it. But not too many came along. I mean, they came along for the first, I don't know, 15, 18 films, but I didn't do that many. But then I didn't want to do the kind of junk I was seeing.
Gene Wilder
A lot of comic actors derive their main force from childish behavior. Most great comics are doing such silly things; you'd say, 'That's what a child would do.'
Gene Wilder
I know a lot of sad people who aren't comedians.
What I learned from Mel Brooks was audacity – in performance as in life. Maybe you go too far, but try it.
Gene Wilder
Mel Brooks is one of the few authentic geniuses working in comedy in America today.
Gene Wilder
I never thought of it as God. I didn't know what to call it. I don't believe in devils, but demons I do because everyone at one time or another has some kind of a demon, even if you call it by another name, that drives them.
Gene Wilder
My basic mistake in 'The World's Greatest Lover' was that I made the leading character a neurotic kook and sent him to Hollywood. I should have made him a perfectly normal, sane, ordinary person, and sent him to Hollywood. The audience identifies with the lead character.
Gene Wilder
Success is a terrible thing and a wonderful thing. If you can enjoy it, it's wonderful. If it starts eating away at you, and they're waiting for more from me, or what can I do to top this, then you're in trouble. Just do what you love. That's all I want to do.
Gene Wilder
When I'm not working on something, I seem to go through periods of depression. It helps to keep busy.
Gene Wilder
When I was in desperate trouble for maybe eight or nine years, I went to a neuropsychiatrist.
Gene Wilder
There seems to be a pattern. I get one good script every two years.
I don't like giving speeches. It makes me nervous.
I had a unique form: a Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
I'm not from Hollywood, and I'm also not one of the people who wants to do a tell-all, and I hate tell-alls. I didn't want to tell all.
Gene Wilder
If my mother hadn't laughed at the funny things I did, I probably wouldn't be a comic actor. After she had her first heart attack, the doctor said, 'Try to make her laugh.' And that was the first time I tried to make anyone laugh.
Gene Wilder
I never used to believe in fate. I used to think you make your own life, and then you call it fate.
Gene Wilder
I feel alone and safe in public.
I was a milksop as a kid. I had no confidence, no guts. I felt I was going to be someone else someday – someone who didn't have my weaknesses.
Gene Wilder
I said something really stupid once. I told a friend that my mother was so beautiful, but my dad was ugly. My dad heard it and just laughed it off, but I felt guilty. It haunted me for years. I should never have said that.
Gene Wilder
I write funny. If I can make my wife laugh, I know I'm on the right track.
Gene Wilder
I like writing books. I'd rather be at home with my wife. I can write, take a break, come out, have a glass of tea, give my wife a kiss, and go back in and write some more. It's not so bad. I am really lucky.
Gene Wilder
I want to do what I can lend my talents to, but I want it to be as a human being and not as a two-dimensional character.
Gene Wilder
What good is a character who's always winking at the audience to let them in on the secret?
Gene Wilder
When you fall in love, and you're very young, you think that that's the love of your life. And maybe it is, but it usually doesn't turn out that way.
Gene Wilder
I don't mean to sound – I don't want it to come out funny, but I don't like show business. I love – I love acting in films. I love it.
Gene Wilder
I love the art of acting, and I love film, because you always have another chance if you want it. You know, if we – if this isn't going well, you can't say – well, you could say – let's stop. Let's start over again, Gene, because you were too nervous.
Gene Wilder
Sidney Poitier was directing a film called 'Hanky Panky.' And he said, 'Do you want to come with me to New York to see Gilda Radner in 'Lunch Hour' on Broadway? I said, 'I don't need to see her, I love her. I've wanted to write something for her for a long time. So it's OK by me.'
Gene Wilder
I didn't want to be a comedian. I wanted to be an actor – maybe a comic actor, but a real actor – by real, I mean not a comedian. I wanted to be an actor.
Gene Wilder
What do actors really want? To be great actors? Yes, but you can't buy talent, so it's best to leave the word 'great' out of it. I think to be believed, onstage or onscreen, is the one hope that all actors share.
Gene Wilder
Pride is not the worst of sins. In fact, it's one of the most interesting ones.
Gene Wilder
My mother was suffering every day of her life, and what right did I have to be happy if she was suffering? So whenever I got happy about something, I felt the need to cut it off, and the only way to cut it off was to pray. 'Forgive me Lord.' For what, I didn't know.
Gene Wilder
I love acting, especially if it's a fantasy of some kind, where it's not just realistic, it's not naturalism.
Gene Wilder
The thing I love about making movies is the peace of mind that I know I don't have to be perfect the first time. I can be perfect the second time or the third time.
Gene Wilder
I'm funny on camera sometimes. In life, once in a while. Once in a while.
Gene Wilder
Lots of things are hard work, but I think writing, for me, after I started acting at 13 years old. I like writing now much more than I do acting only because, well, partly because the scripts that are offered are junk.
Gene Wilder
We all grew up on movies with scenes where the actor is lying, and you know he's lying, but he wants to make sure you know it's a lie, and so he overacts and all but winks at you, and everybody in the world except for the girl he's talking to knows he's lying.
Gene Wilder
I've read everything printed in English that Freud has written. It helped me a great deal.
Gene Wilder
Actors fall into this trap if they missed being loved for who they really were and not for what they could do – sing, dance, joke about – then they take that as love.
Gene Wilder
I've had a very good life and a very good career. I have no regrets.
I'm not a natural writer like, let's say – I'm not talking about Arthur Miller; that's a whole other thing – but let's say Woody Allen. But the more I've written, the more I've found that there is a deep well in me somewhere that wants to express things that I'm not going to find unless I write them myself.
Gene Wilder
Great art direction is NOT the same thing as great film direction!