You don't realize it, but often people are frightened of the director.
I learned that what I'm better at is making stuff lower down the radar. Actually, ideally not on the radar at all.
I don't want to make pompous, serious films; I like films that have a kind of vivacity about them. At this time of the year you think about awards and if you want to win one you think you should make serious films, but my instinct is to make vivacious films.
I want my films to be life-affirming, even a film like Trainspotting (1996), which is very dark in many ways. I want people to leave the cinema feeling that something's been confirmed for them about life.
I think I'm better at making films on my home turf, really. You learn from experience and I've learnt that through The Beach (2000). I love big movies, like Gladiator (2000), but I'm better at smaller films.
That's what's wonderful about actors sometimes, is that's who we watch on the screen... Some of us are interested in directors, but really the vast majority of us are interested in actors. You experience the films through the actors, so they're all locked into your imagination in some kind of layer of fantasy or hatred or wherever they settle into your imagination. They make much better fodder for this kind of thing [interviews] than a director.
[His next project, Sunshine (2007)] We're doing this film Sunshine (2007). In fact, we're casting for it in a few minutes actually. It's about a mission to the sun. It's a sci-fi set in space. They're flying a bomb to the sun and the bomb is like the size of Kansas, this immense bomb that they built in space. They're flying it to reignite a section of the sun which is failing, but it's really about a mission that went earlier, seven years earlier, and failed. So it's sort of mystery of what happened. It's quite big at the end, you get to meet the sun. Quite spectacular hopefully.
When I was making Sunshine (2007), it suddenly struck me: No director has ever gone back into space, with the exception of franchise directors. If you look at the record, you'll find that's true. I now know why.
[on Shallow Grave (1994)] When you make a film for £1m, we were literally selling furniture to pay for film stock by the end. We were flogging off sofas because we'd finished using them and using the money to buy film stock. I think your first film is always your best film. Always. It may not be your most successful or your technically most accomplished, whatever. It is your best film in a way because you never, ever get close to that feeling of not knowing what you're doing again. And that feeling of not knowing what you're doing is an amazing place to be. If you can cope with it and not panic, it's amazing. It's guesswork, inventiveness and freshness that you never get again. To prove it, watch Blood Simple. (1984) again. The Coen brothers are geniuses, but they never made a film as good as Blood Simple. I don't care what you say. So in a funny way, your first film is always your best film, so there you go.
[on The Beach (2000)] Leo [DiCaprio] is an amazing movie star because he's very director-oriented. When he commits to a project he just goes, "We do whatever this guy wants," and that's it. It's amazing how he has supported Scorsese and re-birthed Scorsese, if you like. That is a great definition of a movie star. That's what he's like. He's a fantastic guy. He wants to have a big relationship with the director. He uses his power to bat away the studio. He would say to me, "Do you want to shoot that five-day sequence again? We can do it again if you want?" That's what he uses his power for. He has very European taste. He wants to smuggle European art films into the American market. When I look at it, I remember thinking how much I didn't like these people, and that's really tough when you're directing a film. I liked the actors, we had a great time, but I didn't like the characters. I'm an urban person. I love cities and I made that film about a load of hippies in the countryside, nothing in common with them at all. You're there making the film and you think, "I can't relate to these people at all. What are they doing here? I am so bored." I don't like these people very much and I don't approve of what they're doing so we tried to make the film critical. But of course you've taken $55m. You can't make a sociocritique of these invaders for $55m. If you take $15m you can, but you've taken $55m so there's got to be a romance and it needs to feel like paradise. It needs to sell itself like that.
I think Ken Loach is an extraordinary filmmaker. It is so effortless what he does. The effortlessness with which he can get some stuff is just extraordinary. You may not like his concerns as a filmmaker, that they are political or whatever, and you may actually think that the films should be more exciting, they should have more dramatic climaxes, but he is extraordinary. You think about The Godfather (1972) and that is shot in Ken Loach's fashion, in a way. It's effortless. That's one of the things about Coppola. You never had any fancy angles with Coppola. You don't get any of that Scorsese stuff. Those filmmakers are the real craftsmen, the real masters. They don't need the camera to do anything for them, the whole thing is set up - the camera just records it and you witness it. Whereas I tend to use the camera as part of the experience, the actual point of view is part of the experience. They didn't want to do that. They wanted something much more like looking at a painting. The camera is much more reliable and still. It won't confuse you, you just witness what is within it.
[on 127 Hours (2010)] - This is a film about how precious life is. And it's only precious because of other people. It's not precious in itself, which is what we sometimes think - we think the will to survive is an individualistic thing. ... But it's actually connected to other people. And that's what the life essence is really about - it's always about other people, even in the loneliest places.
Apocalypse Now (1979) fueled my obsession with experiences in the cinema, really, of trying to create. There are risks attached to it. You're trying to stretch things, but you are also fundamentally committed to getting as many people to see it is as possible.
[on Sunshine (2007)] It's very disappointing we didn't get more people in to see it. It's strange, though. I've had people pass me and say, "I saw Sunshine and really liked that." We tried to make it for very little money, but we tried to make a big film. I love that ambition. I think it was probably too close to the films that inspired it. I did say this at the time - with space movies, it's a very narrow corridor you are working in, it's very hard to be inventive in it. Your choices are very, very specific. You have to shuffle it very, very cleverly. So I think people thought it was too like those other films, and it clearly does owe a lot to those other films, but when you see it, there is a side of it that does have its own originality as well. I'm proud of it. It was pretty exhausting doing it, and I wouldn't do another one. Not for a while anyway.