Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011

Sidney Lumet

I always go back to the first time we met. I went to his office, which was really nondescript. I thought we were going out for lunch, but he pulled out a turkey sandwich and a fruit-and-cheese plate from Starbucks. So we sat and ate. I remember thinking, Here I am with Sidney Lumet, eating a fruit-and-cheese plate and talking about Eugene O'Neill. It was a beautifully romantic way to meet somebody so obviously huge and special in such a simple and workmanlike way. But that's how he was. No frills. Just a straight shooter.

My favorite memory of him is watching him work [on Lumet's final film, 2007's Before the Devil Knows You're Dead]. He would put his eye on the lens and tell people where to move the camera, and when he had the right spot, he would shout, "Oh!" and the camera would stop. He knew exactly what he wanted to see, and when he saw it, he didn't question it. He didn't look back through the lens again. That was it. That was the shot.

Hoffman is an Academy Award winning actor