Sidney Lumet: The Price of Our Choices

Sidney Lumet, captured by Nick Machalaba, 1968

I don't want to seem insensitive, but I suppose I will when I say--of myself and others--that we have to accept the price of our choices. I fully understand the pressures of the world, and they are simply not the concern of the art or the artist at work. They are in almost constant battle against each other. Yes, you must eat and support your family and tend to the bills that persistently arrive far more frequently and promptly than does the inspiration you need. Still, there are no excuses: You become and remain what you choose to do.

I've made some poor choices--some for money; others out of naked ambition. I shot too far sometimes, but those risks had some reward. I regret most those things I did because I thought they would be easy, and I hoped they would pad my bank account.

All of us are empty each day--we awake empty and ready for renewal. Choose carefully what it is you set out to do. Nothing you do in this life fails to become an integral part of your soul. I believe this.

Try to live a life that won't require you to make too many unwise choices. That's a tall order, but that is the best advice I can offer anyone. The person who chooses, gives, and shares wisely is the victor in all things.

I wish I were that person.

I tried to be that person.

Interview conducted in 1991

© 2103 James Grissom


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