Saturday, January 26, 2008


The Governor paused and looked reflectively over at Bond. He said: “You’re not married, but I think it’s the same with all relationships between a man and a woman. They can survive anything so long as some kind of basic humanity exists between the two people. When all kindness has gone, when one person obviously and sincerely doesn’t care if the other is alive or dead, then it’s just no good. That particular insult to the ego—worse, to the instinct of self-preservation—can never be forgiven. I’ve noticed this in hundreds of marriages. I’ve seen flagrant infidelities patched up, I’ve seen crimes and even murder forgiven by the other party, let alone bankruptcy and every other form of social crime. Incurable disease, blindness, disaster—all these can be overcome. But never the death of common humanity in one of the partners. I’ve thought about this and I’ve invented a rather high-sounding title for this basic factor in human relations. I have called it the Law of the Quantum of Solace.”

– Ian Fleming, “Quantum of Solace”

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


I never met you, but I'm sad to hear you go. There are so many people in this world who never really tried to earn the air they breathe, your hard work and dedication to your craft suggests to me that you were not among them. Though you already left your mark in the world while only a year older than me, the real tragedy is how high your star had yet to climb. If you accomplished nothing else your life and death will remind me of how precious time is, and I pray I take that lesson to heart.



Charisma as Natural as Gravity

One night, as I'm standing on LaSalle Street in Chicago, trying to line up a shot for "The Dark Knight," a production assistant skateboards into my line of sight. Silently, I curse the moment that Heath first skated onto our set in full character makeup. I'd fretted about the reaction of Batman fans to a skateboarding Joker, but the actual result was a proliferation of skateboards among the younger crew members. If you'd asked those kids why they had chosen to bring their boards to work, they would have answered honestly that they didn't know. That's real charisma—as invisible and natural as gravity. That's what Heath had.

Heath was bursting with creativity. It was in his every gesture. He once told me that he liked to wait between jobs until he was creatively hungry. Until he needed it again. He brought that attitude to our set every day. There aren't many actors who can make you feel ashamed of how often you complain about doing the best job in the world. Heath was one of them.

One time he and another actor were shooting a complex scene. We had two days to shoot it, and at the end of the first day, they'd really found something and Heath was worried that he might not have it if we stopped. He wanted to carry on and finish. It's tough to ask the crew to work late when we all know there's plenty of time to finish the next day. But everyone seemed to understand that Heath had something special and that we had to capture it before it disappeared. Months later, I learned that as Heath left the set that night, he quietly thanked each crew member for working late. Quietly. Not trying to make a point, just grateful for the chance to create that they'd given him.

Those nights on the streets of Chicago were filled with stunts. These can be boring times for an actor, but Heath was fascinated, eagerly accepting our invitation to ride in the camera car as we chased vehicles through movie traffic—not just for the thrill ride, but to be a part of it. Of everything. He'd brought his laptop along in the car, and we had a high-speed screening of two of his works-in-progress: short films he'd made that were exciting and haunting. Their exuberance made me feel jaded and leaden. I've never felt as old as I did watching Heath explore his talents. That night I made him an offer—knowing he wouldn't take me up on it—that he should feel free to come by the set when he had a night off so he could see what we were up to.

When you get into the edit suite after shooting a movie, you feel a responsibility to an actor who has trusted you, and Heath gave us everything. As we started my cut, I would wonder about each take we chose, each trim we made. I would visualize the screening where we'd have to show him the finished film—sitting three or four rows behind him, watching the movements of his head for clues to what he was thinking about what we'd done with all that he'd given us. Now that screening will never be real. I see him every day in my edit suite. I study his face, his voice. And I miss him terribly.

Back on LaSalle Street, I turn to my assistant director and I tell him to clear the skateboarding kid out of my line of sight when I realize—it's Heath, woolly hat pulled low over his eyes, here on his night off to take me up on my offer. I can't help but smile.

-- Christopher Nolan

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Down Time

I was training a week or so ago, in the garage with the gymnastic rings and I tried to do something that I knew I was ready for. I felt the head of my humerus jam up into my shoulder cavity. I screamed. Nobody heard me. The door to the garage was closed so I could keep the heat from my space heater inside. I was all alone. I was hoping, praying that my arm would slip back into the joint. I tried to move what little I could to spur it along. I screamed again. My eyes burned. I fell to one knee. Somebody help me, I thought. I looked at the garage door before me. I tried to clear my mind of the pain long enough to figure out how I'd lift the garage door and get outside of it before it crashed down upon me. It seemed so impossible, as if I'd taken for granted what a monumental achievement it was all the countless times I had effortlessly opened this garage. I figured quickly that it was much more likely that I'd pass out from the pain in a few moments and someone would come and find me lying there some hours later. I even thought of how I should position myself so that I didn't fall on the ruined arm. Then all of a sudden, the joint slipped back into place. The range of motion of my arm was almost nil, but the pain had subsided considerably. The room stopped spinning. I could breath again. I smiled in spite of myself. A moment ago I was so scared and alone and now...I'm not. Relief can sometimes be just on the horizon. I honestly can't remember feeling that way ever before -- but I know one thing for absolute certain. There is no worse feeling in the world than being hurt and knowing no one is coming. I always thought I would die alone. But now, I don't think I'd mind some company to make the time go by.