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Ron Howard

Oscar for Best Director

Ron Howard: I became intrigued by what the director did primarily because when I was working on the show -- The Andy Griffith Show -- the actors, they were a blast. I had so much fun hanging around with them. They were interesting, they were smart, they were funny. They were playing practical jokes, then on a dime, they could focus and do great work. And even as a kid, I was impressed with these people. But I also really enjoyed spending time with the crew. They'd let me sit up there and work the camera or learn a little something about sound, how the microphone worked, and placement, and lighting, and things like that. And I enjoyed that time. And, after a while, I realized that the director was the one person who, moment to moment, day in and day out, really got to play with everybody. And the job just started to look very, very good to me.
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Jeremy Irons

Award-winning Stage and Screen Actor

I got a job off the back of a newspaper as a - what they call an "Acting ASM," I think it was called then. An acting assistant stage manager in a theater in Canterbury, a rep theater. A small wage but just enough to get by on, and I made props and I walked on and I changed scenery and I realized that I just loved it. Not the acting. I wasn't acting. I liked the theater. I liked the people. I liked the time that we worked. Now looking back I see what I was doing, but at the time I didn't know. You never know at the time. What I was doing was finding a way not to have to be stuck with any of the sort of people I'd been educated with, but finding a way of creating the life of a gypsy really, of being able to move from camp to camp, singing around the fire, getting to know those people and then moving on maybe with some of them -- or maybe not -- to another place.
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Jeremy Irons

Award-winning Stage and Screen Actor

It's allowed me to go on great journeys into other people, which I enjoy. I have a very blinkered mentality. I tend to -- there's good things and bad things about that. I tend to see what I'm after and go for it and everything else doesn't exist, which is very useful when you're creating a character, or when you're acting in front of a camera with 100 people, you know. It's quite difficult for those who live with you, who suddenly don't exist, like your wife or your children or your secretary. You know? But they're used to it now.
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John Irving

National Book Award

John Irving: I was a moody kid. I was an aloof kid, I kind of kept to myself. I think that an early sort of pre-writing indication that I had the calling to be a writer was how much time I liked to spend alone. I wasn't anti-social. I had friends, but I didn't really want to hang out with them after school. What I saw of them at school was enough. I needed to be in a room by myself even before I was writing, just imagining things, just thinking about things. If there was a weekend with too many cousins or other people around, I got a little edgy. I think the need to be by myself, which I've recognized in a couple of my own children, is one that was respected by my grandmother, with whom I lived until my mom remarried, as I told you, when I was six. And I was fortunate to be in a big house, my grandmother's house, and there were lots of places to get off by yourself and imagine those things that I didn't know. And I find -- I'm 63, and my capacity to be by myself and just spend time by myself hasn't diminished any. That's the necessary part of being a writer, you better like being alone.
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John Irving

National Book Award

When I was still in prep school --14, 15 -- I started keeping notebooks, journals. I started writing, almost like landscape drawing or life drawing. I never kept a diary, I never wrote about my day and what happened to me, but I described things. If I had known how to draw, maybe I would have drawn hundreds of pictures of my grandmother's garden, but instead I wrote sort of landscape descriptions of it. I think that was what was so compelling to me about those Dickens and Hardy novels. Just the lushness of detail, the amount of description, the amount of atmosphere that is plumped into those novels. It's like nothing you read today, except from those writers who are essentially 19th century story tellers themselves: the Canadian, Robertson Davies; the German, Günter Grass; Garcia Marquez; Salman Rushdie. Basically old fashioned 19th century plot-driven story tellers. Among my contemporaries, I still like the old fashioned ones. Some exceptions, to be sure. I mean Graham Greene is such a good story teller that I forgive him for being as modern as he is. But I was never a Hemingway person. I never understood that. Moby Dick, there was a story. The longer, the better. I remember kids who were reading Moby Dick in a class and would be just complaining about, "Do we have to know everything about the whaling industry? Do we have to read about the blubber and all the rest of it?" I couldn't get enough of it, you know. I couldn't get enough of it.
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John Irving

National Book Award

John Irving: The foremost advice I'd give them is that they better read everything they can. They better read, read, read, read, read. They better read as many good books as they can. They better put the literature of the world into storage somewhere, because they're going to need it. The truth is, if you get to be a writer -- especially if you get to be a self-supporting one, which means you get to write all day, nothing else gets in your way -- if you get to do that, what happens is you'd rather be writing than reading. I'm not a good reader anymore because I write all the time. Literally, all the time. Well, I'm glad. I feel lucky that I was a good reader as a kid, because I don't know when else I would have done it. I'm not embarrassed that I'm not much of a reader now, because I'm not slacking, you know. I write seven days a week, I can write eight hours a day. Not everybody can do that. I couldn't do that 20 years ago, but I can do it now. Twenty years ago, when I wasn't writing screenplays concurrently with whatever novel I'm writing, I was a better reader. I used to read a lot of things when I was between one novel and not yet started in the next. But now I'm never between things, because when I finish a draft of a novel, I go immediately to one or two or three uncompleted screenplays. I just go back and forth. There's always something on my desk. There's always something I can be writing, and I'd rather be writing than reading.
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