by Stevie Wonder
1966 Down To Earth
Biagio Anthony Gazzarra (Ben Gazzara) | August 28, 1930 - February 3, 2012
Immigrant Italians weren’t geared toward literature, so movies were our novels, and I grew up on the best: Cagney, Bogart, Cary Grant, Gable, Wallace Beery — wonderful actors. Then when I was twelve, I was in a play at the Boys Club, and once I heard the applause, I was sold.
"I never direct Ben because he’s an actor who doesn’t need directing. He is extremely intelligent and has great sensitivity. My only contribution to his acting was choosing his wardrobe (I’m not kidding) and, I think, loving him. I think for a director it’s important to love the people he works with." — John Cassavetes
"He never makes anything obvious and that’s the best thing you can say about an actor." — David Mamet
"There’s something so energized and unapologetically male about Ben — he’s a throwback to an American archetype associated with Hemingway." — Sean Penn
"The one who made the best spaghetti was Ben Gazzara. We used to have a competition. […] It would take him four hours in the kitchen all by himself, steaming the sauce." — Sam Shaw
"Ben has […] a distinctive voice—described once as ‘a sort of cross between a purr and a growl.’" — TV Radio Mirror, April 1958
Everything was perfect and I was so happy I just want to be back to normal
I was seriously having the best year of my life and then I took this medicine and just ruined it all. I got so anxious I had to leave all my friends and now I feel terrible and I can’t even remember what feeling normal is anymore. I am so miserable. This is so different than the teenage angst that I used to feel was depression. This two or three weeks has been an eternity.
Da Sweet Blood Of Jesus was an invigorating, liberating experience, that broke off the shackles of Oldboy. Unless you’re doing Spider-Man 10, you put your art out there having no idea how it will end up. It all can be satisfying. I tell my students this all the time. To me, filmmaking is a big umbrella, under which there can be a three hour film like Malcolm X, or two four-hour documentaries like When The Levees Broke, or a 30 second commercial with Michael Jordan, or a Michael Jackson video we did in Brazil. I’ve enjoyed it all, the big budget movies like Inside Man. People said, you, doing a heist movie? I like heist films, and Sidney Lumet’s Dog Day Afternoon is one of my all-time favorite films. It’s unfortunate that because of films like Do The Right Thing and Jungle Fever and Malcolm X, some people try to put a straitjacket on me, that I can only do films that deal with race. But if people wish to spend the time, they will see the diversity in the work I’ve done.
A “special trailer” for Hong Sang-soo’s “Hill of freedom”