Arthur Penn: Simpletons and Sadists

Arthur Penn on the set of Bonnie & Clyde (1967).

Interview with Arthur Penn
Conducted by James Grissom

Be delighted that you're disappointed with your life. You know who is not disappointed with their lives, their work, themselves? Simpletons and sadists, that's who. I think it's a sign of development, of maturation, if you look at what you're doing and what you've done and you find a lot for which to be grateful and a lot that just makes you want to hang your head. And you keep on. You keep studying and working and asking questions--and being disappointed.

What you cannot do is believe that you are the only person to feel this disappointment. You cannot share your disappointment and moan and sigh and bitch about it. No one needs that, and it's energy wasted. Pour your disappointment into the current work, the day at hand. You screwed up hundreds of days of your life with one sort of behavior or one sort of response, so start another with a new way of doing things, of seeing things.

That's maturation. That's living. That's getting on.

Treasure your disappointment: It's a sign that you've learned something.

© 2014 James Grissom


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