A fondness for film

Sherry Lansing comments on some of the many movies with which she has been involved

The Hours (2002)
"I had read the book and loved it, but I never thought of it as a film. Then one day, (producer) Scott Rudin said, 'There's a script I really want you to read.' He had developed it out of his (discretionary) fund. He sent it over, and I just never connected (the book and the script), and I said, 'You have to change the title -- there's this popular book called "The Hours!"'"

Saving Private Ryan (1998)
"The movie was a gift to us. I was driving home one Friday night, and (CAA president) Richard Lovett called and said, 'How do you feel about Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks?' I said, 'I'd be thrilled.' But nothing is that easy. To get Spielberg and Hanks, you have to do at least five years of (work). It was just such a casual call -- and next morning, (Lansing's colleague) Jonathan Dolgen got a call from David Geffen, and it was real! You could have heard me jumping up and down and screaming the loudest scream in the world!"

Titanic (1997)
"I remember one afternoon, (director/ writer/producer) Jim Cameron said, 'I don't have the cut ready, but I'm going to show you a section of the movie.' And so we (Lansing and then-Paramount executive John Goldwyn) drove out to his editing room in Malibu, and he said, 'I'll show you 45 minutes of the movie.' I went at 4 in the afternoon, and I was meeting Billy (husband William Friedkin) for dinner, and I said I'd probably be back by 7. And he started to show us scenes, and it was mesmerizing! We had never seen anything like it. Time stood still. I finally said, 'I'd better call my husband and tell him I'm going to be running late' -- and Jim said, 'Sherry, it's 9 o'clock!' I had no idea."

Braveheart (1995)
"I'll always remember watching it on an editing machine. It was so special. There was a longer version, and we screened it, and then (director/star) Mel (Gibson) took some time out, and we screened it again in Tucson -- and it scored through the roof. But we said, 'Put the extra time back in' because we missed the scenes. And Mel agreed. Sometimes, longer is better."

Forrest Gump (1994)
"I remember seeing the first cut. I cried so hard and was so moved by the love story and the character. But we had a lot riding on it, and afterward, I drove home and got Stanley (then-Paramount executive Stanley Jaffe) on my car phone. I said, 'This is one of the most unique and original and brilliant films I have ever seen, and if it doesn't work, we should all get out of the business.'"

Indecent Proposal (1993)
"One of the first days of shooting was the scene where Robert Redford offered Demi Moore the choice (of $1 million to sleep with him). And I remember thinking that the movie worked or fell through on that scene. I thought, 'OK, Redford will make it very dramatic.' And he came in and said it so casually, like he was purchasing a jacket -- and it was brilliant! He knew to throw it away, and that's what makes it so believable and lethal. I was crouched in the corner watching it, and I went, 'Whoa!' That was one of the best lessons I have ever seen in acting."

The Accused (1988)
"What struck me about it was the culpability of the bystander. I had a mother who survived Nazi Germany, where people pretended they didn't know what was going on. And then I had this horrible experience -- I was driving, and I saw in the park what I thought was a guy starting to hit a woman. I wasn't sure, but I didn't stop. It haunted me. What interested me was the people who stood by."
Rio Lobo (1970)
"I knew that I wanted to be in the movie business, but all I knew about was acting. When I started, I couldn't do it -- and, equally as important, I was uncomfortable acting. I wasn't comfortable being anybody but myself. And when I got cast in this Howard Hawks movie, what Hawks wanted was to re-create Lauren Bacall, so he wanted me to talk with a very low voice and get rid of my Chicago accent. I couldn't stand not being myself."
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