Orson Welles Quotes

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Orson Welles

Welles on March 1, 1937 (age 21), photographed by Carl Van Vechten
Born George Orson Welles
(1915-05-06)May 6, 1915
Kenosha, Wisconsin, U.S.
Died October 10, 1985(1985-10-10) (aged 70)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death Heart attack
Resting place Ronda, Spain
Alma mater Todd School for Boys
Occupation

Actor
director
writer
producer

Years active 1931–1985
Spouse(s)

Virginia Nicolson
(married 1934–1940)
Rita Hayworth
(married 1943–1947)
Paola Mori
(married 1955–1985)

Partner(s) Dolores del Río (1938–43)
Oja Kodar (1966–85)
Children

Christopher Welles Feder
Rebecca Welles Manning
Beatrice Welles

Parent(s) Richard Hodgdon Head Welles
Beatrice Lucy Ives Welles
Awards 1941 Academy Award for Best Writing (Original Screenplay) for Citizen Kane
1970 Academy Honorary Award

I've always found it very sanitary to be broke.
Criminals are never very amusing. It's because they're failures. Those who make real money aren't counted as criminals. This is a class distinction, not an ethical problem.
Orson Welles
I'm never certain of a performance – my own or the other actors' – or the script or anything… But to me it seems there's only one place in the world the camera can be, and the decision usually comes immediately.
Orson Welles
I think an artist has always to be out of step with his time.
Now I'm an old Christmas tree, the roots of which have died. They just come along and while the little needles fall off me replace them with medallions.
Orson Welles
See, I believe that it is not true that different races and nations are alike. I'm profoundly convinced that that's a total lie. I think people are different. Sardinians, for example, have stubby little fingers. Bosnians have short necks.
Orson Welles
Create your own visual style… let it be unique for yourself and yet identifiable for others.
Orson Welles
There were centuries when civilization had no theater.
I worry a lot about taking care of my dependents, all those perfectly ordinary middle-class preoccupations.
Orson Welles
I think I made essential a mistake in staying in movies, because I – but it's a mistake I can't regret, because it's like saying, 'I shouldn't have stayed married to that woman, but I did because I love her.'
Orson Welles
Only very intelligent people don't wish they were in politics, and I'm dumb enough to want to be in there.
Orson Welles
On my tombstone, I want written: 'He never did 'Love Boat!'
I'm not a walking extra in a Chekhov play; I'm no Slavic gloom or Irish gloom.
Orson Welles
The enemy of society is middle class and the enemy of life is middle age.
My mother and father were both much more remarkable than any story of mine can make them. They seem to me just mythically wonderful.
Orson Welles
I prefer the old masters, by which I mean John Ford, John Ford, and John Ford.
Orson Welles
I'm one of those fellows so frightened of driving that I go 80 miles an hour – and the more frightened I get, the faster I go.
Orson Welles
If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.
Orson Welles
Did you ever stop to think why cops are always famous for being dumb? Simple. Because they don't have to be anything else.
Orson Welles
When people accept breaking the law as normal, something happens to the whole society.
Orson Welles
The essential is to excite the spectators. If that means playing Hamlet on a flying trapeze or in an aquarium, you do it.
Orson Welles
The best thing commercially, which is the worst artistically, by and large, is the most successful.
Orson Welles
We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we're not alone.
Orson Welles
I don't want to forgive myself. That's why I hate psychoanalysis I think if you're guilty of something you should live with it. Get rid of it – how can you get rid of a real guilt? I think people should live with it, face up to it.
Orson Welles
The only reason for doing a play is to make a statement about it, and by that I don't mean a conceit of the producer.
Orson Welles
People are losing the capacity to listen to words or follow ideas.
When you are down and out something always turns up – and it is usually the noses of your friends.
Orson Welles
The first thing one must remember about film is that it is a young medium. And it is essential for every responsible artist to cultivate the ground that has been left fallow.
Orson Welles
If there hadn't been women we'd still be squatting in a cave eating raw meat, because we made civilization in order to impress our girlfriends.
Orson Welles
Everything bad that has ever happened to me has been caused by agents or lawyers.
Orson Welles
Everybody denies I am a genius - but nobody ever called me one!
I am essentially a hack, a commercial person. If I had a hobby, I would immediately make money on it or abandon it.
Orson Welles
There's no biography so interesting as the one in which the biographer is present.
Orson Welles
One shouldn't ever be conscious of the author as lecturer. When social or moral points are too heavily stressed, I always get uncomfortable.
Orson Welles
Everything about me is a contradiction, and so is everything about everybody else. We are made out of oppositions; we live between two poles. There's a philistine and an aesthete in all of us, and a murderer and a saint. You don't reconcile the poles. You just recognize them.
Orson Welles
I never said I was a genius.
I can think of nothing that an audience won't understand. The only problem is to interest them; once they are interested, they understand anything in the world.
Orson Welles
I started at the top and worked my way down.
My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four. Unless there are three other people.
Orson Welles
Nobody who takes on anything big and tough can afford to be modest.
The laws and the stage, both are a form of exhibitionism.
I have the terrible feeling that, because I am wearing a white beard and am sitting in the back of the theatre, you expect me to tell you the truth about something. These are the cheap seats, not Mount Sinai.
Orson Welles
I do not suppose I shall be remembered for anything. But I don't think about my work in those terms. It is just as vulgar to work for the sake of posterity as to work for the sake of money.
Orson Welles
I'm a provincial. I live very much like a hermit: reading, listening to music, working in the cutting room, writing, commercial work – which doesn't take up that much time.
Orson Welles
Anybody who speaks quietly and shrivels up in company is unbelievably arrogant.
Orson Welles
I want to give the audience a hint of a scene. No more than that. Give them too much and they won't contribute anything themselves. Give them just a suggestion and you get them working with you. That's what gives the theater meaning: when it becomes a social act.
Orson Welles
The two things you cannot do effectively on stage are pray and copulate.
I have no great message to the world.
In common with all Protestant or Jewish cultures, America was developed on the idea that your word is your bond. Otherwise, the frontier could never have been opened, 'cause it was lawless. A man's word had to mean something.
Orson Welles
When television came along, I'd already done more than 10 years of radio work and I thought everyone would want me. I sat around waiting for the phone to ring – and it didn't.
Orson Welles
I passionately hate the idea of being with it; I think an artist has always to be out of step with his time.
Orson Welles
Nobody gets justice. People only get good luck or bad luck.
Ecstasy is not really part of the scene we can do on celluloid.
At twenty-one, so many things appear solid, permanent, untenable.
Man is a rational animal who always loses his temper when called upon to act in accordance with the dictates of reason.
Orson Welles
If you've noticed that I don't use long takes, it's not because I don't like them, but because no one gives me the necessary means to treat myself to them. It's more economical to make one image, then this image and then that image, and try to control them later, in the editing studio.
Orson Welles
I hate Woody Allen physically, I dislike that kind of man.
Look at the real prodigies, and I look like nothing compared to them.
Create your own visual style… let it be unique for yourself and yet identifiable for others.
Orson Welles
I have a great love and respect for religion, great love and respect for atheism. What I hate is agnosticism, people who do not choose.
Orson Welles
Movie directing is a perfect refuge for the mediocre.
I've never understood the cult of Hitchcock. Particularly the late American movies… Egotism and laziness. And they're all lit like television shows.
Orson Welles
A film is never really good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet.
Orson Welles
A good artist should be isolated. If he isn't isolated, something is wrong.
Orson Welles
I don't say we all ought to misbehave, but we ought to look as if we could.
Orson Welles
The classy gangster is a Hollywood invention.
I've spent most of my mature life trying to prove that I'm not irresponsible.
Orson Welles
Film is like a colony and there are very few colonists.
The notion of directing a film is the invention of critics – the whole eloquence of cinema is achieved in the editing room.
Orson Welles
Race hate isn't human nature; race hate is the abandonment of human nature.
Orson Welles
In my real movie-going days, which were the thirties, you didn't stand in line. You strolled down the street and sallied into the theater at any hour of the day or night.
Orson Welles
I have an unfortunate personality.
If everyone worked with wide-angle lenses, I'd shoot all my films in 75mm, because I believe very strongly in the possibilities of the 75mm.
Orson Welles
Every actor in his heart believes everything bad that's printed about him.
Orson Welles
Personally, I don't like a girlfriend to have a husband. If she'll fool her husband, I figure she'll fool me.
Orson Welles
Popularity should be no scale for the election of politicians. If it would depend on popularity, Donald Duck and The Muppets would take seats in senate.
Orson Welles
Each multiplex has screens allocated to each studio. The screens need filling. Studios have to create product to fill their screen, and the amount of good product is limited.
Orson Welles
I hate television. I hate it as much as peanuts. But I can't stop eating peanuts.
Orson Welles
I have always been more interested in experiment, than in accomplishment.
If I ever own a restaurant, I will never allow the waiters to ask if the diners like their dishes. Particularly when they're talking.
Orson Welles
I would rather be on the set than doing anything.
I was spoiled in a very strange way as a child, because everybody told me, from the moment I was able to hear, that I was absolutely marvelous, and I never heard a discouraging word for years, you see. I didn't know what was ahead of me.
Orson Welles
If I don't like somebody's looks, I don't like them.
As a producer, sitting on the other side of the desk, I have never once had an agent go out on a limb for his client and fight for him. I've never heard one say, 'No, just a minute! This is the actor you should use.' They will always say, 'You don't like him? I've got somebody else.' They're totally spineless.
Orson Welles
Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what's for lunch.
Hollywood is the only industry, even taking in soup companies, which does not have laboratories for the purpose of experimentation.
Orson Welles
My kind of director is an actor-director who writes.
Now we sit through Shakespeare in order to recognize the quotations.
Fake is as old as the Eden tree.
The enemy of art is the absence of limitations.
I feel I have to protect myself against things. So I'm pretty careful to lose most of them.
Orson Welles
Living in the lap of luxury isn't bad except that you never know when luxury is going to stand up.
Orson Welles
The ideal American type is perfectly expressed by the Protestant, individualist, anti-conformist, and this is the type that is in the process of disappearing. In reality there are few left.
Orson Welles
Good evening, ladies and gentleman. My name is Orson Welles. I am an actor. I am a writer. I am a producer. I am a director. I am a magician. I appear onstage and on the radio. Why are there so many of me and so few of you?
Orson Welles
I don't like television when it gets near to photographed plays.
I have made an art form of the interview. The French are the best interviewers, despite their addiction to the triad, like all Cartesians.
Orson Welles
Gluttony is not a secret vice.
I know people who have a much better recollection of their childhood than I do. They remember very well when they were a year and a half and two years old. I've only one or two daguerreotypes that come to mind.
Orson Welles
'The Godfather' was the glorification of a bunch of bums who never existed.
Orson Welles
I don't pray because I don't want to bore God.
They teach anything in universities today. You can major in mud pies.