Quotes, Entertainment And News

40 Best James Lipton Quotes About Acting, Hollywood & Pursuing Your Passions

40 Best James Lipton Quotes About Acting, Hollywood & Pursuing Your Passions

James Lipton was born on September 19th, 1926 and died recently at his home in Manhattan — on March 2nd, 2020 — from bladder cancer at the age of 93. A writer, lyricist, actor and at one point the dean of a drama school in New York City called Actor’s Studio Drama School at Pace University, Lipton produced, wrote and hosted a show on Bravo television called, Inside the Actor’s Studio.

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Lipton is originally from Detroit, Michigan. His mother was a teacher and librarian, and his father, a graphic designer, and columnist. Lipton worked as a paperboy as a child and an actor in the Catholic Theater of Detroit as well as on the radio. He graduated from Central High School in Detroit and went to Wayne State University for a year and then joined the U.S. Air Force.

James Lipton was originally going to pursue a career as a lawyer and picked up acting on the side to help finance his career and education. He eventually picked up dancing and choreography skills and was cast in Broadway roles such as The Autumn Garden, Sherry! and The Man Who Came to Dinner. He was also in a film called The Big Break.

Lipton also succeeded as an author for the book he wrote called An Exaltation of Larks. He eventually published another novel entitled, Mirrors. This book was able to be turned into a television series as well.

Lipton appeared on multiple episodes of Arrested Development playing Warden Stefan Gentles. He was also the voice of the director in Disney’s Bolt.

James Lipton had a desire to initiate a 3-year education program for actors to teach them everything he had learned. His school joined with New York City’s New School University to form the Actors Studio Drama School. This eventually was molded into The Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University.

In Lipton’s personal life, he was married to an actress, Nina Foch, from 1954-1959. He married model Kedakai Turner Lipton in 1970 and was with her ever since. Kedakai was also the illustration designer of Lipton’s book, An Exaltation of Larks, The Ultimate Edition.

Lipton also learned how to become a pilot in his personal time. He was certified in Airplane Single Engine Land planes and had been flying since 1980 — logging over 1,000 hours of flight time in a Cessna 152 and 172.

This man and his impact on Hollywood and the acting scene won't soon be forgotten, so we gathered 40 of the best James Lipton quotes from his books and show, Inside The Actor's Studio.

1. A fact of life.

“Because – Bobby Lewis said this once to us in class, the better you get, the less credit you’ll get. Because the better you are, the more it looks like walking and talking and everybody thinks they can walk and talk.” — James Lipton

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2. Timing is everything.

“And I thought if I don’t pre-interview - first of all, we couldn’t afford it – but the second thing was it would force me to do my own research, which takes two weeks.” — James Lipton

3. Know your worth.

“And I thought, my God, there’s an off chance that they will say something that’s really worth preserving and there is one way to do that and I know what it was because I come from television.” — James Lipton

4. It's all psychological.

“I had something called the back of the chair test. Where I sit, we don’t sit like you and I do. I can see a sliver right behind them, and they come out and they sit like this, like good students and they don’t touch the back of the chair.” — James Lipton

5. A different way of thinking.

“Geniuses always think it’s easier than we make it out to be.” — James Lipton

6. Being completely enveloped in a scene.

“Hackman is able to live in the moment which means there is nothing for him at that split second than what is occurring in the scene.” — James Lipton

7. The power critics have gets to their heads.

“I criticize those critics. The reason being that they’re doing one of the worst things that ever can be done to an actor, which is to say, 'Look, you do what we'd like you to do or else.'” — James Lipton

8. A big accomplishment.

“I did get Tom Hanks to say, 'Life is just a box of chocolates.'” — James Lipton

9. You have to be invested in what you do.

“I think that anybody’s craft is fascinating. A taxi driver talking about taxi driving is going to be very, very interesting.” — James Lipton

10. Part of the job.

“Comedians don’t laugh. They’re too busy analyzing why it’s funny or not.” — James Lipton

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11. It's not about rumors, it's about genuine devotion.

“I thought we would have at most an audience of 5,000 devotees because I made the decision to stick to craft, not to gossip, not to be interested in any of the juicy stuff that they talk about on other shows, but stick to the question of craft.” — James Lipton

12. He knows himself.

“I wanted, when we began this, to have a conversation, the kind that you’re able to have, and the only way I knew how to do it was not to have a pre-interview.” — James Lipton

13. Emotions are likely to occur.

“I was dealing with craft, and that’s the surprising thing, the number of people who have literally broken down on our stage because when you’re talking about the thing that is most important to someone, they’re liable to feel something strongly.” — James Lipton

14. Straight-forward.

“I’ll tell you why I don’t invite the one I don’t like.” — James Lipton

15. Know what you're doing in life.

“I was originally going to be a lawyer, and the only thing I remember from the art of cross-examination is – you can see this one coming up Sixth Avenue – never ask a question the answer to which you do not know.” — James Lipton

16. You'd learn from your life.

“If I were to ask you, for example right now, to go back with me and define those moments in your life that shaped you as a person and you began to reexamine them, something would happen.” — James Lipton

17. Be willing to learn and able to teach.

“It can be summed up in one sentence. Does this person have something to teach my students? No one has ever let us down.” — James Lipton

18. Genius means something different for everyone.

“Oliver was another case of a genius, who couldn’t understand why anybody would have any trouble doing this, because for him it came so easily.” — James Lipton

19. It is interesting to see the difference.

“The difference – the fundamental difference between theater acting and film acting is that film acting is disjunctive.” — James Lipton

20. Life just comes easier to some.

“The definition of genius, really, should be that that person can do what the rest of us have to learn how to do.” — James Lipton

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21. Actors build on each other.

“The foundation for film acting is stage acting.” — James Lipton

22. The true meaning of an actor's studio.

“The studio is meant to always be a place where, first of all, they can be out of the spotlight, and second, where they could work with a peer group on parts that they might not have played otherwise.” — James Lipton

23. No two people are alike.

“They change. They’re different. There are no two alike, that’s the miracle of it. But if they have something to teach the students. You can see them writing during the show.” — James Lipton

24. Actors don't play it safe.

“They will take a role that scares them over a role that doesn’t. That’s another thing I like about actors.” — James Lipton

25. Take risks.

“What I didn’t know that by sticking to craft we would blow open some doors that I never saw opened before.” — James Lipton

26. James Lipton believes the best way to train actors is to expose them to everything.

“We are the only school in America, drama school in America, that trains actors, writers and directors side by side for three years in a master’s degree program. And we want them – to expose them to everything.” — James Lipton

27. Learn from the best to be the best.

“When it began, I wrote this passionate letter to people I knew, studio members, of course, and other people with whom we have worked over the years and I said come and teach our students.” — James Lipton

28. Be confident.

“I’d like to welcome you all to my venue, which is a bit cheeky since it isn’t my venue quite yet.” — James Lipton

29. Hard work has tough hours.

“I threw Spielberg out at 12:15 in the morning. Spielberg and the students. Coppola, out at 12:15. Billy Joel out at 12:15 in the morning.” — James Lipton

30. Do what makes you happy.

“I may be writing well, I may be writing poorly, but I enjoy the act of writing and sometimes when it turns out okay, I feel an elation that is incomparable.” — James Lipton

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31. Plain and simple.

“I’ll tell you why I don’t invite the one I don’t like.” — James Lipton

32. The true fans.

“The first people who responded were Arthur Penn and Sally Filed and Dennis Hopper and Alec Baldwin and Paul Newman.” — James Lipton

33. Like riding a bike.

“I’ll miss it until the day I die, and I’m convinced to this day that I can get on a horse and jump a course of fences satisfactorily. It doesn’t leave you.” — James Lipton

34. Acting doesn't always work out for everyone, but try, and it might.

“I became a professional actor in Detroit, and I was able to earn some money. It was a good job because it permitted me to study. It fit perfectly with school.” — James Lipton

35. Have confidence in your work.

“We still are now nothing more than a course. The show will continue to be a classroom, with the students as our audience, in a great institution.” — James Lipton

36. It's hard not to critique your own work.

“I love writing. I like reading, other people, not myself.” — James Lipton

37. Protect our language.

“Our language, one of our most precious natural resources, deserves at least as much protection as our woodlands, steams and whooping cranes.” — James Lipton

38. Think about what you did throughout your life.

“If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?” — James Lipton

39. The best way for good things to happen.

“I became an actor by accident, not by design.” — James Lipton

40. Happiness is where it's at.

“I must confess that when I’m alone in my study, here in New York, writing; that’s when I’m happy.” — James Lipton

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Hayley Small is a writer who focuses on pop culture, religion and relationship topics.