ALAN ARKIN QUOTES

American actor (1934- )

Alan Arkin quote

I read somewhere that some people believe that the entire universe is a matrix of living thought. And I said, "Man, if that's not a definition of God, I don't know what is."

ALAN ARKIN, Esquire, Mar. 2007

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Truth is always unfolding. It's not an absolute.

ALAN ARKIN, Esquire, Mar. 2007

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I knew I wanted to act from when I was five, and I started studying seriously when I was six and seven. Not with anybody else, but I used to watch the world as if it was a performance and I would realize that certain things that people did moved me, and certain things didn't move me, and I tried to analyze, even at that age, six and seven and eight, why I was moved by certain things they did.

ALAN ARKIN, Futurist Radio Hour, Oct. 10, 1995

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Tags: acting


For many years my acting came from a place of surmounting some enormous obstacle, confronting some stern and faceless judge who would condemn me to a pit of hell if I didn't achieve the "zone," if even for a moment. Not a particularly happy place to work from.

ALAN ARKIN, An Improvised Life

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Creativity means learning where the rules exist, and then breaking them! Saying, "It's better this way." But you have to know the rules in order to break them with any grace.

ALAN ARKIN, New Mexico Magazine, Jun. 2011

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What I've learned about teaching is to refer back to the root of that word, which is educo, which means "to pull from." Education does not mean jamming information into somebody's head. Rather, it's that ancient idea that all knowledge is within us; to teach is to help somebody pull it out of themselves.

ALAN ARKIN, Esquire, Mar. 2007

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I remember particularly, my mother was talking to somebody and I know it was earlier than when I was ten, I don't remember exactly. My mother was talking to a friend of hers who had just been through some kind of tragedy, and I was just sitting, drawing, on the floor while they were going through this. This woman was crying and sobbing and bemoaning her fate, and I found myself saying "I'm not moved" by what she's doing, by her problems. And I said, "Why am I not moved?" Then I said, "It's because she's complaining too much. She's crying too much. If she would do it less, then I would be moved more." And I just put that in the hopper for my work. It was, uh, crazy, I suppose, because it removes you from -- I was removing myself from the experience which is an aberration, but it paid off in a way, because it became part of my technique, whatever that is.

ALAN ARKIN, Futurist Radio Hour, Oct. 10, 1995

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Hollywood is a strange place. The class structure here is more rigid than almost anyplace I've ever experienced. It's made more difficult by the fact that it's constantly changing. You never know what class you belong to unless you're one of the two or three people that have been in the same echelon for a long, long time.

ALAN ARKIN, Esquire, Mar. 2007

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In high school ... the drama teacher was a failed actor with a lantern jaw and long grey hair. He looked like a cliche from a third-rate Shakespearean touring company, which is exactly what he'd been. His primary activity was telling us endless stories of his triumphs in little theaters around the country. Back then, we were properly impressed. The one comment I can remember his making about my work, probably casual on his part, seared into me like a branding iron. "You might end up being a comedian," he said, "but you'll never be an actor." His remark was tossed off, something he probably forgot the minute he said it, but now fifty years later it still lives with me.

ALAN ARKIN, An Improvised Life

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I'm an actor. My life as an actor depends on who sends me what. I'm just taking the best stuff that I can find that's sent my way, regardless of how big or little the paycheck is. I don't want to work for scale anymore. I'm at a point now where, no matter how good something is, I'm not going to kill myself and end up in the hole.

ALAN ARKIN, The Republic, Feb. 16, 2012

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Whatever the pitfalls of the old studio system, and there were many, and they were run by egomaniacs just the same way they are now. But one of the things they did was they had a stable of actors that worked together all the time so you got the feeling when you saw the movies in the thirties and forties you were watching people that knew each other, that had some sense of communication even if it was hello--how are you in the commisary, or to get drunk together, or to go to the parties together, or to be in the mass photographing sessions they had. There was some sense of relationship. Now, I go to the movies and I don't feel like anybody knows each other. I feel like they've met that morning, and that they're going to rush back to their trailer in the middle of the afternoon, and there's no sense of community.

ALAN ARKIN, Futurist Radio Hour, Oct. 10, 1995

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I wasn't getting anywhere in New York. I was 28 and I had no career whatsoever. No prospects of any work coming in. I had been offered a job by Paul Sills in Chicago with a little tiny improvisational company. I thought, "Fat chance, I'm not going to bury myself in Chicago and starve for the rest of my life." But with the prospect of starving for the rest of my life staring me in the face, I took him up on the offer, thinking it was going to be the end of my career. Six months after I got there, it was Second City, and six months after that, we started getting national attention. And instead of it being the end of everything, it was the beginning of everything.

ALAN ARKIN, interview, A.V. Club, Aug. 2, 2006

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Is it possible to have an endless series of successes without falling on our faces? I suppose it is, but I think it would entail doing the same things over and over again without taking chances, without taking risks or exploring our limits, without finding out what we can and can't do.

ALAN ARKIN, An Improvised Life

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I gotta keep busy. I'm not happy unless I'm working on two, three things.

ALAN ARKIN, interview with Roger Ebert, Apr. 9, 1967

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TV has taken reflection out of the human condition. People didn't use to have a ready answer for everything, whether they knew something about it or not. People think they have to have an answer for everything because the guys on TV have an answer for everything. But it's bullsh**t! Reflection is crucial.

ALAN ARKIN, "Alan Arkin: Random Advice from an Older Gentleman", Esquire, Feb. 2013

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Tags: television


That's what we're all doing, all the time, whether we know it or not. Whether we like it or not. Creating something on the spur of the moment with the materials at hand. We might just as well let the rest of it go, join the party, and dance our hearts out.

ALAN ARKIN, An Improvised Life

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Improvisation sometimes seemed more like jazz than acting, like verbal jazz, with the actors playing a theme back and forth, and then introducing another theme, incorporating it, somehow trying to work their way all together to a meaning of some kind, or at least a conclusion.

ALAN ARKIN, interview with Roger Ebert, Apr. 9, 1967

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I don't think it does the audience any good to know what I do to prepare. It keeps it more of a surprise. I don't feel like it has to be a mystery.

ALAN ARKIN, interview, A.V. Club, Aug. 2, 2006

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I played guitar. I've always considered myself an actor, but I wasn't making a living as an actor. So I was in a couple of folk groups that managed to keep me in underwear and burritos.

ALAN ARKIN, interview, A.V. Club, Aug. 2, 2006

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Two-thirds of American movies are extensions of commercials -- they tell you how to feel and they tell you how to think -- rather than letting you figure it out on your own.

ALAN ARKIN, Los Angeles Times, Oct. 6, 2012

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