You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Milos Forman speaks for the rebels

DGA Awards 2013

In a nearly 50-year directing career, Milos Forman has made only 12 features, but their variety astounds.

There’s biography (“Amadeus,” “The People vs. Larry Flynt”), adaptation (“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”), musical (“Hair”), period drama (“Ragtime”) and social commentary (“The Firemen’s Ball”), with many genres easily overlapping. Though he rarely repeated himself, the DGA’s 34th Lifetime Achievement Award honoree says passion was the abiding spark for any project.

“You feel strongly and fall in love with a story,” he says. “It’s a matter of the heart.”

Iconoclasts, though, whether embodied in the counterculture movement, a mental institution, radical early 20th-century America or the porn industry, were a constant. Says Forman: “Rebels are always good for drama.”

A key member of the Czechoslovakian New Wave, Forman moved to New York in the late ’60s to make films in America — eventually winning two directing Oscars. He says he overcame his meager English on film sets through directorial enthusiasm and “pretending” to understand. But his sense of humor proved a readily translatable language in and of itself.

“It’s as important in a movie as it is in a good politician,” says Forman, who cites Charlie Chaplin as a longstanding influence. “His mixture of very moving human themes and humor, I was smitten by that.”

Known as a masterful actors’ director, Forman has the same advice for dealing with the pros and non-pros who pepper his casts. “Don’t talk to them too much,” he says. “Then you confuse their head.”

Ultimately, Forman says, everybody’s an actor: “Professional, non-professional, that’s a bureaucratic division.” The main difference is how each responds to the camera.

“The professional actor loves to hear the response of the audience, while the non-professional are shy of the audience,” Forman says. “But they are not shy of the camera. It’s just a piece of equipment, while professional actors, they are shy of the camera, because they know that is the eye that will decide their future.”

DGA Awards 2013
Success to succession | Milos Forman speaks for the rebels | At the helm, in the trenches

More Scene

  • Hong Chau American Woman

    'Downsizing' Star Hong Chau on Men and #MeToo: 'I Don't Want to Tell Somebody What to Say'

    In a nearly 50-year directing career, Milos Forman has made only 12 features, but their variety astounds. There’s biography (“Amadeus,” “The People vs. Larry Flynt”), adaptation (“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”), musical (“Hair”), period drama (“Ragtime”) and social commentary (“The Firemen’s Ball”), with many genres easily overlapping. Though he rarely repeated himself, the DGA’s […]

  • Common Would Support Oprah for President

    Common Says An Oprah Presidency Would Bring America Back to 'Compassionate Leaders' That 'Care About Human Beings' (EXCLUSIVE)

    In a nearly 50-year directing career, Milos Forman has made only 12 features, but their variety astounds. There’s biography (“Amadeus,” “The People vs. Larry Flynt”), adaptation (“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”), musical (“Hair”), period drama (“Ragtime”) and social commentary (“The Firemen’s Ball”), with many genres easily overlapping. Though he rarely repeated himself, the DGA’s […]

  • SAG Awards Prep

    Sneak Peek at 2018 SAG Awards Post-Show Gala

    In a nearly 50-year directing career, Milos Forman has made only 12 features, but their variety astounds. There’s biography (“Amadeus,” “The People vs. Larry Flynt”), adaptation (“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”), musical (“Hair”), period drama (“Ragtime”) and social commentary (“The Firemen’s Ball”), with many genres easily overlapping. Though he rarely repeated himself, the DGA’s […]

  • grace and frankie lisa kudrow

    Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin Talk the Realities of Aging at ‘Grace and Frankie’ Season 4 Premiere

    In a nearly 50-year directing career, Milos Forman has made only 12 features, but their variety astounds. There’s biography (“Amadeus,” “The People vs. Larry Flynt”), adaptation (“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”), musical (“Hair”), period drama (“Ragtime”) and social commentary (“The Firemen’s Ball”), with many genres easily overlapping. Though he rarely repeated himself, the DGA’s […]

  • Sundance Parties

    Sundance 2018: The Insider's Party Guide

    In a nearly 50-year directing career, Milos Forman has made only 12 features, but their variety astounds. There’s biography (“Amadeus,” “The People vs. Larry Flynt”), adaptation (“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”), musical (“Hair”), period drama (“Ragtime”) and social commentary (“The Firemen’s Ball”), with many genres easily overlapping. Though he rarely repeated himself, the DGA’s […]

  • '12 Strong' film premiere

    '12 Strong': Chris Hemsworth Hopes Film Can Reduce 'Misconceptions' About Afghanistan

    In a nearly 50-year directing career, Milos Forman has made only 12 features, but their variety astounds. There’s biography (“Amadeus,” “The People vs. Larry Flynt”), adaptation (“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”), musical (“Hair”), period drama (“Ragtime”) and social commentary (“The Firemen’s Ball”), with many genres easily overlapping. Though he rarely repeated himself, the DGA’s […]

  • Guillermo del Toro, Greta Gerwig and

    Timothée Chalamet Says He'd Love to Work With Christopher Nolan or Guillermo del Toro

    In a nearly 50-year directing career, Milos Forman has made only 12 features, but their variety astounds. There’s biography (“Amadeus,” “The People vs. Larry Flynt”), adaptation (“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”), musical (“Hair”), period drama (“Ragtime”) and social commentary (“The Firemen’s Ball”), with many genres easily overlapping. Though he rarely repeated himself, the DGA’s […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content