Lester Burnham
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Quotes for
Lester Burnham (Character)
from American Beauty (1999)

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American Beauty (1999)
Lester Burnham: You don't get to tell me what to do ever again.

Carolyn Burnham: Uh, whose car is that out front?
Lester Burnham: Mine. 1970 Pontiac Firebird. The car I've always wanted and now I have it. I rule!

Carolyn Burnham: This is a $4,000 sofa, upholstered in Italian silk. This is not just a couch.
Lester Burnham: [shouts, pounding a couch pillow to each syllable] It's just a couch!

Lester Burnham: Smile! You're at Mr. Smiley's.

[Lester has just caught Caroline cheating with the Real Estate King]
Carolyn Burnham: Uh, Buddy, this is my...
Lester Burnham: Her husband. We've met before, but something tells me you're going to remember me this time.

[Carolyn is introducing Lester to the Real Estate King]
Carolyn Burnham: My husband, Lester.
Buddy Kane: It's a pleasure.
Lester Burnham: Oh, we've met before, actually. This thing last year, Christmas at the Sheraton...
Buddy Kane: [pretends to remember] Oh yeah, yes...
Lester Burnham: It's OK, I wouldn't remember me either.
Carolyn Burnham: [laughs nervously] Honey, don't be weird.
Lester Burnham: OK honey, I won't be weird. I'll be whatever what you want me to be.
[Lester kisses Carolyn wildly, then looks at the Real Estate King]
Lester Burnham: We have a very healthy relationship.
Buddy Kane: I see.
Lester Burnham: Well, don't know about you guys, but I need a drink.

Lester Burnham: I figured you guys might be able to give me some pointers. I need to shape up. Fast.
Jim Olmeyer: Are you just looking to lose weight, or do you want increased strength and flexibility as well?
Lester Burnham: I want to look good naked!

Brad Dupree: [reading Lester's job description] "My job consists of basically masking my contempt for the assholes in charge, and, at least once a day, retiring to the men's room so I can jerk off while I fantasize about a life that doesn't so closely resemble Hell." Well, you have absolutely no interest in saving yourself.
Lester Burnham: Brad, for 14 years I've been a whore for the advertising industry. The only way I could save myself now is if I start firebombing.

Lester Burnham: Look at me, jerking off in the shower... This will be the high point of my day; it's all downhill from here.

Lester Burnham: I feel like I've been in a coma for the past twenty years. And I'm just now waking up.

Brad Dupree: Management wants you gone by the end of the day.
Lester Burnham: Well, just what sort of severance package is management prepared to offer me? Considering the information I have about our Editorial Director buying pussy with company money - which, I think, would interest the I.R.S., since it technically constitutes fraud; and I'm sure that some of our advertisers and rival publications might like to know about it as well. Not to mention
[grins]
Lester Burnham: Craig's wife!
Brad Dupree: [crosses his arms] What do you want?
Lester Burnham: One year's salary, with benefits.
Brad Dupree: That's not going to happen.
Lester Burnham: Well, what do you say I throw in a little sexual harassment charge, to boot?
Brad Dupree: [chuckles in disbelief] Against who?
Lester Burnham: [he chuckles right back] Against YOU. Can you prove that you didn't offer to save my job if I let you blow me?
Brad Dupree: Man, you are one twisted fuck.
Lester Burnham: Nope; I'm just an ordinary guy with nothing to lose.

Ricky Fitts: So, do you party?
Lester Burnham: Excuse me?
Ricky Fitts: Do you get high?

Catering Boss: I'm not paying you to do... whatever it is you're doing out here.
Ricky Fitts: Fine. So don't pay me.
Catering Boss: Excuse me?
Ricky Fitts: I quit. So you don't have to pay me. Now leave me alone.
Catering Boss: ...asshole.
Lester Burnham: [stunned] I think you just became my personal hero!

Brad Dupree: Got a minute?
Lester Burnham: [Phony, overly polite voice] For you, Brad, I've got five!

Lester Burnham: This isn't life, it's just stuff. And it's become more important to you than living. Well, honey, that's just nuts.

Lester Burnham: Remember those posters that said, "Today is the first day of the rest of your life"? Well, that's true of every day but one - the day you die.

Lester Burnham: How's Jane?
Angela Hayes: What do you mean?
Lester Burnham: I mean, how's her life? Is she happy? Is she miserable? I'd really like to know, and she'd die before she'd ever tell me about it.
Angela Hayes: She's... she's really happy. She thinks she's in love.
Lester Burnham: Good for her.
Angela Hayes: How are you?
Lester Burnham: God, it's been a long time since anybody asked me that... I'm great.
Angela Hayes: I've gotta go to the bathroom.
Lester Burnham: I'm great.

[at the dinner table]
Carolyn Burnham: Your father and I were just discussing his day at work. Why don't you tell our daughter about it, honey?
Lester Burnham: Janie, today I quit my job. And then I told my boss to go fuck himself, and then I blackmailed him for almost sixty thousand dollars. Pass the asparagus.
Carolyn Burnham: Your father seems to think this kind of behavior is something to be proud of.
Lester Burnham: And your mother seems to prefer that I go through life like a fucking prisoner while she keeps my dick in a mason jar under the sink.
Carolyn Burnham: How dare you speak to me that way in front of her. And I marvel that you can be so contemptuous of me, on the same day that you LOSE your job.
Lester Burnham: Lose it? I didn't lose it. It's not like, "Whoops! Where'd my job go?" I QUIT. Someone pass the asparagus, please.

Lester Burnham: You don't think it's kinda weird & fascist?
Carolyn Burnham: Possibly, but you don't want to be unemployed.
Lester Burnham: Oh well, all right, let's all sell our souls and work for Satan because it's more convenient that way.

Mr. Smiley's Manager: I don't think you'd fit in here.
Lester Burnham: I have fast food experience.
Mr. Smiley's Manager: Yeah, like twenty years ago!
Lester Burnham: Well, I'm sure there have been amazing technological advances in the industry, but surely you must have some sort of training program. It seems unfair to presume I won't be able to learn.

Carolyn Burnham: Well, I see you're smoking pot now. I think using psychotropic drugs is a very positive example to set for our daughter.
Lester Burnham: You're one to talk, you bloodless, money-grubbing freak.

Carolyn Burnham: What the hell do you think you're doing?
Lester Burnham: Uh oh! Mom's mad! Bench presses. I'm going to whale on my pecs and then do my back.

[last lines]
Lester Burnham: [narrating] I had always heard your entire life flashes in front of your eyes the second before you die. First of all, that one second isn't a second at all, it stretches on forever, like an ocean of time... For me, it was lying on my back at Boy Scout camp, watching falling stars... And yellow leaves, from the maple trees, that lined our street... Or my grandmother's hands, and the way her skin seemed like paper... And the first time I saw my cousin Tony's brand new Firebird... And Janie... And Janie... And... Carolyn. I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me... but it's hard to stay mad, when there's so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst... And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life... You have no idea what I'm talking about, I'm sure. But don't worry... you will someday.

Lester Burnham: [narrating] That's my wife, Carolyn. See the way the handle on her pruning shears matches her gardening clogs? That's not an accident.

Lester Burnham: [narrating] It's a great thing when you realize you still have the ability to surprise yourself.

Carolyn Burnham: What are you doing?
Lester Burnham: Nothing.
Carolyn Burnham: You were masturbating!
Lester Burnham: I was not.
Carolyn Burnham: Yes you were!
Lester Burnham: Oh, all right! So shoot me, I was whacking off! That's right, I was choking the bishop, chafing the carrot, you know, saying "hi" to my monster!

Lester Burnham: When I was your age, I flipped burgers all summer just to be able to buy an eight-track.
Ricky Fitts: That sucks.
Lester Burnham: No, actually it was great. All I did was party and get laid. I had my whole life ahead of me.

Colonel Frank Fitts: Where's your wife?
Lester Burnham: Uh, I dunno. Probably out fucking that dorky, prince-of-real-estate asshole. And you know what? I don't care.
Colonel Frank Fitts: Your wife is with another man and you don't care?
Lester Burnham: Nope. Our marriage is just for show. A commercial for how normal we are when we're anything but.

Lester Burnham: So, Janie, how was school?
Jane Burnham: It was okay.
Lester Burnham: Just okay?
Jane Burnham: No, Dad, it was spectacular.

Carolyn Burnham: Don't you mess with me, mister, or I'll divorce you so fast it'll make your head spin!
Lester Burnham: On what grounds? I'm not a drunk, I don't fuck other women, I've never hit you, I don't mistreat you... I don't even try to touch you since you've made it so abundantly clear how unnecessary you consider me to be! But I did support you when you got your license, and some people might think that entitles me to half of what's yours. So, turn off the light when you come to bed!

Lester Burnham: My name is Lester Burnham. This is my neighborhood; this is my street; this is my life. I am 42 years old; in less than a year I will be dead. Of course I don't know that yet, and in a way, I am dead already.

Lester Burnham: [narrating] Both my wife and daughter think I'm this gigantic loser and they're right, I have lost something. I'm not exactly sure what it is but I know I didn't always feel this... sedated. But you know what? It's never too late to get it back.

Lester Burnham: [narrating] Janie's a pretty typical teenager. Angry, insecure, confused. I wish I could tell her that's all going to pass, but I don't want to lie to her.

Lester Burnham: Man, oh man. Man, oh man, oh man, oh man, oh man.
[last words, while looking at a picture of his family]

Carolyn Burnham: Oh, I see. You think you're the only one who's sexually frustrated here?
Lester Burnham: I'm not? Well, then, come on, baby, I'm ready!

Lester: [giggling] Oh, I'm in trouble!

Lester Burnham: [talking to Carolyn about Jane] Oh, what? You're mother of the year? You treat her like an employee.

Lester Burnham: You better watch yourself, Jane, or you're going to turn into a real BITCH, just like your MOTHER!

[Lester and Carolyn are driving to the basketball game to watch Jane's dance team gig]
Lester Burnham: Well what makes you so sure she wants us to be there? Did she ask us to come?
Carolyn Burnham: Of course not. She doesn't want us to know how important this is to her. But she's been practicing her steps for weeks.
Lester Burnham: Well, I'll bet money she's going to resent it, and I'm missing the James Bond marathon on TNT.
Carolyn Burnham: Lester, this is important. I'm sensing a real distance growing between you and Jane.
Lester Burnham: "Growing?" She hates me.
Carolyn Burnham: She's just willful.
Lester Burnham: She hates you too.

Lester Burnham: Well you know what? I've changed! And the new me whacks off when he feels horny!

Brad Dupree: ...so I'm sure you can understand the need to cut corners around here.
Lester Burnham: Sure. Times are tight, and you need to free up cash. Gotta spend money to make money.
Brad Dupree: Exactly.
Lester Burnham: Like when our editorial director used the company MasterCard to pay for a hooker, and then she used the card number to stay at the St. Regis for, what was it, three months?
Brad Dupree: That's unsubstantiated gossip.
Lester Burnham: That's fifty thousand dollars. That's somebody's salary. Somebody who's probably gonna get fired because Craig has to pay women to fuck him!
Brad Dupree: Jesus. Calm down. Nobody's getting fired yet. That's why we're having everyone write a job description, mapping out in detail how they contribute. That way, management can assess who's valuable and who's...
Lester Burnham: Expendable.
Brad Dupree: It's just business.

Mr. Smiley's Counter Girl: Whoa! You are so busted.
Carolyn Burnham: You know, this really doesn't concern you.
Lester Burnham: Well, actually, Janine is Senior Drive-thru Manager so you are on her turf.

Lester Burnham: I am sick and tired of being treated like I don't exist. You two do whatever you want, whenever you want to do it, and I don't complain.
Carolyn Burnham: Oh, you don't complain? Then please, excuse me, I must be psychotic, then! If you don't complain, what is this? Yeah, let's bring in the laugh-meter and see how loud it gets.
Lester Burnham: [Lester throws the asparagus plate at the wall] Don't interrupt me, honey!
Lester Burnham: [sits back down to eat] Oh, yeah, and one more thing, from now on we're going to have alternate dinner music because frankly - and I don't think I'm alone here...
[looks in Jane's direction]
Lester Burnham: I'm tired of this Lawrence Welk shit!

Lester Burnham: This isn't life! This is just stuff! And it's become more important to you than living!

Lester Burnham: Spec-ta-cular!

Lester Burnham: Will someone please pass the fucking asparagus?

Lester Burnham: It's a great thing when you realize you still have the ability to surprise yourself. Makes you wonder what else you can do that you've forgotten about.

Carolyn Burnham: Lester I refuse to live like this! This is not a marriage!
Lester Burnham: This hasn't been a marriage, for years, but you were happy as long as I kept my mouth shut. Well guess what, I've changed! And the new me whacks off when he feels horny, because you're obviously not gonna help me out in that department!

Lester Burnham: Oh Carolyn, when did you become so... joyless?
Carolyn Burnham: Joyless? I'm not joyless. There happens to be a lot about me that you don't know, Mr. Smarty Man. There's plenty of joy in my life.

Lester Burnham: Good. I'm looking for the least possible amount of responsibility.