Damien Chazelle of 'La La Land': "I'm in Awe of Actors" | Director Oscar Roundtable

"I just couldn't handle, to me, the particular kind of terror that came from performing on a stage or performing in front of people, or performing period."

"I remember one of the most formative movies that I ever saw for a very specific reason was Glory, and the reason it was so formative was, I didn't know characters could die at the end of a movie," Damien Chazelle told The Hollywood Reporter during the Director Oscar Roundtable. The star of Glory, Denzel Washington, sat alongside Chazelle on the Roundtable, as the La La Land director shared his love of and obsession with film since a young age.

Chazelle grew up as a drummer, studying music (many of his personal experiences were involved in the story of his Oscar- nominated film Whiplash). He stopped performing for many reasons but mostly for his "nervousness." "I'm in awe of actors," said Chazelle, "chiefly for that reason because the sort of exposure level is greater than I ever had on a drum set."

"They're better at handling it than I am," he said of his actors. "They're able to not let the nervousness translate into their work and that's something I was never able to accomplish."

More roundtables featuring actresses, actors, screenwriters, songwriters, documentarians, composers and producers will continue throughout February in print and online. Tune in to new episodes of Close-Up With 'The Hollywood Reporter' starting Jan. 15 on Sundance TV, and look for clips at THR.com/topic/roundtables with full episodes on THR.com after broadcast.

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