Excerpt from: The New York Times - 4 July 1999

Title: What They Say About Stanley Kubrick

Christiane Kubrick

When he was a very young man I think he was a chess hustler. He played it very well -- not that I could judge.

...He saw me on television in Munich. He called my agent and hired me. I met him at a studio, and then he went to an enormous masked ball where I was performing. He was the only one without a costume. He was quite baffled. He found a cousin of mine to help find me.

....We moved in together in Munich -- I was still doing plays there and he was finishing his film. I was in the throes of a divorce, and so was he.

His clothes were still bought by his mother and they were very smart. So he was sort of disheveled smart. It soon became clear that he didn't care what he wore. Later, the children tried to dress him up a bit better but it was hopeless.

....["Spartacus"] was difficult. They were all famous actors in it and they treated him, because he was so young, with a certain arrogance. So he was arrogant right back. He loved Tony Curtis because they had lots in common -- they both liked magic tricks.

....He liked working with women and worked with them very successfully. He was surrounded by women at home, nothing but daughters, and he employed quite a lot of women. He had an absolute angel of a mother -- extraordinarily nice woman -- very smart and very sweet. Stanley loved his parents -- he was close to them, his mother more perhaps than his father because she was more up on films and the latest news. So, in the end, he knew a great deal about women in general -- ranging from the sophisticated to girl talk.

.... I suppose he wasn't really happy to be in Hollywood, but he didn't say, "I'm never going back to California again," or anything. But we enjoyed living in England. I fit in a bit better, and it's beautiful.

....When we were young, we had parties every weekend, and I think it was a bit of an excuse to keep talking to the people he was working with, because then he could keep them interested and keep them on certain topics that he wanted them to think about. It wasn't planned -- Oh, I'm going to keep them working." It came naturally -- Come for dinner," instead of, "I want you to think about this." We tried to make a very formal and elegant dinner party, and eventually found that they were more sort of casual and Bohemian -- so I don't think the formal bit went too well.

Stanley had a secret fantasy of being a short-order cook. He was very good. The kitchen was a bit full of blue smoke and too many dirty pans, but he was very good at that. He did a sort of American food that Europeans find so astonishing -- hamburgers, and then, later on, he was king of sandwiches. He would pile up high things. He was a good host and was trying desperately to tidy everything up so people didn't say we're sloppy.

....On films, sometimes you're happy for a week and then you think, Oh, no, it stinks. If you have a bad day, you can punch holes into anything. He had those days. Ultimately, he could make every film 10 times -- he could come up with something new. That's why it took him so long. And a lot of scripts he wrote he never made because he ultimately decided it was a waste of time. It made him very sad -- he wanted to make more films. But he didn't want to launch into a film when he wasn't a hundred percent certain.

....He wasn't shy at all. He was shy only when it came to being official. I think he was probably a hopeless actor. His Griffith Award acceptance speech [in 1997] -- he was miserable and he left it to the last minute. And he did it so badly and he got into a really bad mood. He'd written it very well but he couldn't say it. We finally got it on tape and he said, "I'd better not see it, otherwise I'll never send it off." So he sent it off, and then he saw it and nearly choked with laughter -- rolling on the floor -- he couldn't believe it. He said, "You see, I just can't do it." The minute it wasn't official, he was fine. The minute someone stuck a mike in front of his mouth, he said: "My mind is blank and I say nothing, or the most stupid stuff." That's why he didn't want to give interviews. He said, "Why should I work very hard in the film and then make a fool of myself?"

...He did see an awful lot of films -- always. For years, he screened them at the house -- we have a beautiful theater -- and then we became older and lazier and looked at them on tape, and he was very ashamed. He liked Ingmar Bergman, Woody Allen, a lot of Spanish, Italian, Japanese films. He also loved to hate certain films. He would say, "This is the most awful thing I've ever seen," and keep watching.

....Socially, he was very much an American in Europe and did astonishing things that were very endearing. I think he was quite unaware of certain social games that people play, especially in England, and wasn't interested either -- and I think many people found that very nice. He was quite secure. If he wasn't, he would inform himself very carefully and very pedantically set out to not make a mistake.

....People always think he was this idiotic dictator. He was always asking everyone's opinion on most things. What do you think of this? What do you think of that? Do you think I should have done this different? He spread his palette of ideas for everyone to have a pick at, and would dismiss you brutally if he thought that what you said was really irritating.

....He thought it was boring away from home. He liked all his stuff around him, all his telephones and televisions and fax machines. Also, we have a zoo. We have a lot of animals and he liked those and he liked the children and later the grandchildren. He liked being at home. But not like a hermit -- he had lots of friends -- they just weren't in the film business. He talked to everyone -- he just didn't talk to the press.

...(when Stanley's daughter, Vivian left home to make her life in L.A.) Yes, he was extremely sad when she decided to go there.

....With each film, I wanted to see it less before it was finished. He wanted that also. Neither of us liked when you're in the middle of some work and the other says, "Can I say what I'm thinking?" But he would often sit with me when I was painting -- because painters are sort of like sitting ducks -- and he would say, "I won't say anything." "What?!" "Nothing, nothing -- I said I won't say anything. Can't I say just one thing?" And he would say whatever it was that he liked or didn't like or thought he liked better the day before. I reacted badly, especially if it was something I had a sneaking feeling wasn't going well. You hate somebody to be right, don't you? But now that he doesn't stand there, it's awful.

....(on "Eyes Wide Shut") I thought he was awfully tired, and he never slept much -- ever -- in his whole life. Then I thought he was really overdoing it with this last film. Sleeping less and less. He also was a doctor's son and he wouldn't see a doctor. He gave himself his own medicine if he wasn't feeling well or he would phone friends -- it was the one thing he did that I thought was really stupid.

....Even the most ordinary things, he would give them such extra insight that they became interesting. He talked all the time, and so I now never have this rain of words. I'm very sad now but I was personally very lucky that I always felt very loved and many people can't say that.