On a 2001 Charlie Rose Show about Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures, Christiane Kubrick was asked to define a certain personality trait or mental attitude that genius-level filmmakers seem to share in common. She said this is unknowable and therein lies the fascination.
HE says “holdupski.” HE defines that mindset as an educated “fuck it” thing…mindful and respectful of artistic history and precedent, but not especially intimidated by same…an attitude that says “okay, these other filmmakers did it this or that way and that’s fine, but I’m here now and this is my film so fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke.”
In a phrase, a genius artist is often possessed of a certain kind of reverent irreverence.
Every major-league director I’ve spoken with in person over the decades (and we’re talking quite a few) shares this trait.
While watching this I was also struck by how radiantly young the 59 year-old Martin Scorsese looked during this taping, certainly compared to now. Guys in their 50s and even their early 60s can look really great if they’ve watched their diets and haven’t done too many drugs in their youth. And it’s believed that Scorsese, remember, was a total cokehead in the mid ’70s so he came out of that dungeon without too many bruises.